Have you ever been driving on a highway and missed your exit? There’s a moment of panic and indecision as you see the sign and wonder if that’s where you should get off. Maybe another car is blocking you and you can’t move over fast enough. Maybe your GPS is telling you to go a different direction but you’re almost positive you should be turning off where you are.
Leadership decisions happen at speed.
When you sit back and think about what you’d like to do in an ideal situation or when you go back and debrief or Monday morning quarterback a decision, it’s easy to forget that the decision itself was made at 65 mph, perhaps without all the insight and information you have now.
Stopping on the highway is a great way to cause an accident.
You might like to sit back and take your time with a decision, but in most cases you don’t have that luxury. Some decisions you can prepare for in advance, but others come at you without warning. The employee who charges a pile of personal stuff on a company credit card. The client who calls you up to tell you your team screwed up and wants to know what you’re going to do to save the account. The project that suddenly grinds to a halt because of an unexpected and seemingly insurmountable obstacle. You’d like to stop and analyze the situation from every angle but often you just don’t have time.
There are always more ways to get there.
The good news is that, just like on the highway, there are other paths to success. If you miss your exit you’re not stuck on the highway for life, you can get off at the next one. Sure the trip might take a little longer but you also might find a new route that’s useful later. Or a restaurant you hadn’t known was there. And next time you come down that highway you’ll be more confident because you’ll know for sure which exit to take.
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