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20 year old leadership in a Colorado landslide

20 year old leadership in a Colorado landslide

June 13, 2016

I was totally stuck. This time being smart or resourceful was not going to get me out of the jam. I was young, dumb and in my early 20's and had (almost) no fear. I was leading a group of around 25 teenagers on a 2 week hiking and rafting trip in the Colorado mountains.

I planned out the trip far in advance. Now, this was back before cell phones, let alone GPS navigation with traffic hacks. We had maps, an occasional payphone, and our good old eyes and feet. (If you're over 30, you know what I'm talking about...)

If you ever face hard decisions, keep reading. This blog is written for you.

To this day, this trip taught me one of the most powerful leadership lessons I've ever learned.

We had been hiking for a few days and all was going as planned. Our next stop was a 4 day hike across a mountain pass in the White River Forest. I knew the path and we were merrily on our way.

But when we got there our mouths dropped.

There was a HUGE landslide and the path was completely washed out. There was no way to get to the other side of the mountain. We were totally stuck in the middle of a mountain range in Colorado!To go around was impossible. (Glup.)

I was scared, not confident, and terrified of getting lost. Plus, we only had a limited amount of supplies and we were at least 2 days away from civilization. But at this point I realized that if I as the leader panicked, all of the kids would follow suit. 

So here's what I did: I "recalculated." We forged a new path (literally), made a bunch of small decisions along the way, got lost a few times and eventually made it safely to the other side.

By being forced to make many small decisions, I learned this counter-intuitive lesson that most leaders don't know:

"He who makes the most decisions wins."

Practice makes perfect, even with decision making. This simple idea will help you get over analysis paralysis.

See, many people are afraid to make decisions. What if I'm wrong? I don't have enough information. I've made poor decisions in the past, so why will this one be any different?

They feel that they need to take their time, think things through, get a million opinions, and weigh all of the options. They hate being rushed and get frustrated when they are pushed before their ready. They are plagued with analysis paralysis.

And this isn't coming from nowhere. Conventional wisdom actually tells us that good decision making is all about gathering information ahead of time.

And there's truth to that. Blind decision making is never a good thing. Effective leaders aren't rash and short-sighted. You have to be responsible and do your due diligence.

CLICK HERE to find out the toughest decision that entrepreneurs have to face.

But too much time in analysis mode prevents leaders from making the actual decision. Leaders have to be willing to draw a line in the sand, make a brave decision, have faith and move on. Remember, "he who makes the most decisions wins."

And here's the real kicker. YOU WILL MAKE BAD DECISIONS AND THAT'S OK.

Why? Because it's all about iteration. The more times you do something the better you become at it. By making more decisions, even making more bad decisions, you learn, adapt and increase the chance and frequency of making good decisions.

This is the reason why software companies release their software in 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 versions. Frequent releases allow them the time and feedback to make small changes and improve their products over time.

When I was heavily involved in the direct mail world with my company Lumpy Mail, iteration was the name of the game. Before rolling out a massive campaign to thousands of people, we would test our campaign out on a small number. Then, once we had statistical validation and saw it work, we would roll it out en mass.

Make more decision and more mistakes. By trying, failing and learning you will improve your decision-making skills and ultimately end up making more good decisions.

Stuck in a rut? Want to be more decisive but don't know how?

 to our 8 real-world quick tips to help you make more and better decisions.

Here's a sneak peek.

Tip # 1. Ooch*

Never heard of it? In Chip and Dan Heath's book, Decisiveooch is defined as breaking down your big decisions into smaller, more manageable ones. 

For example, I often see leaders stuck when it comes to hiring the necessary staff to support their growth. Hiring a new employee can be a scary commitment with a lot of risk associated with it. So I advise them to hire an employee on a "trial basis." Instead of committing $80,000 for the year, try the employee out for 3 months for $20,000. It lowers the risk and enables you to test, decide again, and move forward.

Let's say you want to become a brain surgeon. That's a pretty big decision that will involve years of your life devoted to accomplishing that goal. How can you start ooching? Hang out with a brain surgeon. Make a small decision first. Test it out, decide if you like it. Break down the decision into smaller, more manageable steps.

Want the rest of the 7 quick tips to making more and better decisions?

Taking you from where you are to where you want to be,

Jon Goldman