As I look back on the much larger part of my career, I’ve noticed a few important things related to decision making. First, while it’s not surprising that some decisions were more important than others, many of the important game changing decisions in my career didn’t seem all that important at the time. Second, I’ve realized that there weren’t that many game changing decisions – maybe only ten over a 35 year career – and I’ll honestly admit that I didn’t make the right decisions on all ten.
As an example of one of my ten, I was fresh out of college and sitting in my car waiting for a friend at her parent’s house when I noticed her dad in the front yard struggling to get his lawn mower started. Rather than sitting in the car, I decided to get out and help him fix it – which he greatly appreciated. I didn’t know it at the time, but he turned out to be a senior executive for a local firm that needed people in my field. About a year later, he offered to set up an interview for me and I ended up working nearly 30 wonderful years with them. Getting out of the car to help didn’t seem like an important decision at the time, but it was clearly a game changer and a very good decision.
The third thing I’ve noticed is that that there are some general themes among my ten. The good decisions were often times when I stepped up to do the right thing even though I wasn’t expecting anything in return, they were times when I did a great job preparing for something that I thought could be important and they were times when I acted confidently and even with some courage. Maybe it’s not surprising then that the bad decisions among the ten were times when I didn’t do any of that stuff.
I’d encourage the readers of this blog is to take a few moments to think about the ten game changing decisions in your own career, to identify your own general themes around what worked and what didn’t and then try to consciously use those as you face what could be your next game changing decision. Who knows, maybe one of your ten will be your decision to read this blog all the way through and then to do something with this idea.