I remember talking to one of my teachers once about the traits of a master leader. And though we discussed many topics, traits and themes – attitudinal qualities like “caring,” “trust,” “being a role model;” and skills like “management,” “study,” etc. – ‘the’ trait that lay at the center, or formed the foundation for all of these others was: Decisiveness – the simple ability to make a decision.
Though all of the other traits were and are important in the overall character of a leader, at the heart of it all lay the willingness and, yes, “decision,” to be or do those other things.
For example, we cannot and generally will not “care” about something until we ‘decide’ to care about it. Carrying this to it’s fullest, we will not be a “caring” person until we decide to be. This is true for everything.
It’s funny, you know. I’ve been an avid student of human nature for a long time now. I’ve studied how we human beings latch onto ideas, beliefs, and concepts, and run with them. The one thing that most people do not do, however, is to check the integrity of their ideas with one another. Do you know what I mean? Most of us never stop to see whether or not our “beliefs” and habitual patterns “jive” with each other.
More often than not, under close examination, things tend to break down. One belief is not congruent – it contradicts – another belief about the same “type” of thing but from a different perspective.
Here’s an example. Staff and I are constantly joking about how many people come to WCI because they are interested in taking up martial arts. How do we know this? Not necessarily because they’ve told us (lots of people tell us they’re interested – especially after you mention that you’re studying the martial arts, right?! We know because they have actually picked up the phone or stopped into the academy for information.
But, once here, we notice that their demeanor – their actions and responses, mirror those that come up for many when their approached by a salesperson at a store.
Isn’t that funny? These folks are interested in taking up martial arts but…
… They’re afraid we’re going to “sell” them martial arts lessons!
This happens all the time. To each and every one of us. It may not be about sales, or martial arts, but it happens nonetheless.
What does this have to do with martial arts, a black belt, mastery, or warriorship? Thanks for asking. Otherwise, this article is going nowhere!
The ability to make a decision is at the heart of all of this confusion. It is also at the heart of success and mastery. It is the very thing theta defines a leader.
You see, life – every single moment – is made up of choices. And, as the author Richard Bach cited in his book ‘Illusions,’ “we design our lives through the power of our choices.” And, it is our decisions, or lack of, that define us in the eyes of others. In fact, it could be said, and has been by the great H. A. Hopf, that we teach others how to act in regards to decisiveness. We teach our children, our students, even those who are thinking about associating with us, who we are and how we engage life and that, if they are to be “like” us, they should make decisions like we do.
There are really three types of decisions to make in any given situation, whether it’s goal-setting, planning, or problem-solving. They are:
1) Do It! You decide in favor of an action.
2) Don’t Do It! You decide against the action.
3) Don’t Decide! You avoid making a choice or decision altogether.
Yes, choosing to “not” make a decision IS a decision – a choice! Because what you’re really saying is either:
1) I don’t care one way or the other which way this goes or what we do. In this case, there would not be complaining afterwards of the decision(s) made by others (if you were being honest).
2) I’m afraid to commit to something because I’m afraid of failure, success, or a hundred other things. So what if your decision proves to be wrong or simply a bad choice; make another one! After all, THAT’S what leaders do!
3) I don’t want to have to think about this right now so I’ll postpone the decision.
This last one is what most people do with regards to their goals – including going to Japan. Why else would they put off going for three years? Money? I think not. And, why not? Because everyone that has told me they were going to Japan, for example, last year, has no more money saved for the trip than they did when they first supposedly set the goal.
I remember when my teachers first started forcing me to stand up and make decisions. It was uncomfortable in many cases, and terrifying in others. But, developing this powerful ability has literally changed my life. And, it will yours as well.
Imagine: actually attaching people to you that are more helpful to you and your on life BECAUSE you are decisive. Why? Because decisive people are Confident, Trusting and Trustworthy, the take risks (another important key to success and mastery), and they make people feel comfortable and Safe.
Your ability to make confident decisions, even in the face of little support or help from others, will set you apart from everyone else who has “decided” on a mediocre, passive, and everyday existence. You will be in great company though because you will have elevated yourself to the level of the Abraham Lincolns, the Walt Disneys, the Madame Currys, and so many others that made their own path in life – decisively, confidently…
…one choice at a time!