LEADERSHIP means making decisions.
There are a lot of theories on decision-making and many suggested methods for making better ones. We’ll look at some of them in future posts. Before we consider the how-to though, we should consider the why.
Decision-making is not just for titled leaders of course; we all face a multitude of choices in life. Many people, unfortunately, abdicate the responsibility of making them, allowing others to do their choosing for them. Making decisions is not easy sometimes; it takes effort and consideration. But, it’s a vital part of taking the lead, in work, at play, and in your life.
Consciousness, as author and philosopher Ayn Rand pointed out, is the faculty of awareness. To be conscious is to be aware, and in the fully human sense, to be aware is to also be aware of your self. As soon as you are self-aware, you have to choose.
Imagine this. You open your eyes for the very first time. You’re sitting somewhere. You look around and see your environment. You look down and see your own body. You work out pretty quickly how your hands and arms and legs work. Now, what do you do?
The very first thing is… you choose. You cannot not choose. Before you can take any action, even as simple as standing up, you must choose that action. If you decide to stay where you are and take no action, that too is a choice. Nothing beyond the physiological processes of your body is automatic. As paradoxical as it sounds, as a human the only thing about which you have no choice is that you must make choices. If you can say “I” you must choose.
I = choice.
This is Free Will.
Why does this matter? Because so many people don’t choose. They do not exercise their free will. They accept, they drift, they evade, they rationalize. I call them unthinking followers.
They accept unquestioningly the ideas and dictates of others, whether smart or silly, instead of choosing to look at reality for themselves, to find the evidence that confirms those ideas, or discounts them.
They drift through life, maybe with loosely held “dreams”, instead of setting goals and creating a plan to make those dreams reality.
They evade the need to face challenges and make hard choices, including about who they are and who they’d like to be, instead of taking responsibility for where they are in life, no matter what mistakes they’ve made or misfortune they’ve suffered, and then taking one step after another on a new, better path.
They rationalize everything. Making excuses about what is rather than taking action to create what should be.
The first choice every human needs to make is to focus on reality; which, by the way, all children do instinctively. Sadly, many unlearn it by the example of others. As they grow they become more and more dependent on what others say and do, and worse, they worry about what they think others think(!).
Stay focused on reality. Use every ounce of your ability to work out the truth, to comprehend reality… in everything. Being focused means choosing to activate your mind, and keeping it activated.
Choosing to think unlocks the gate to endless possibility. Behind that gate lie success and happiness. And good thinking is the foundation of leadership.
PS: Think about this: You are your will.