Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. Proverbs 15:22
Everyone has to make a hard decision from time to time. Sometimes the weight of a decision kept me awake at night. I am not alone. I suspect you have been in the same position.
The next generation is no different. They are at the stage of life where they will be making lots of decisions, some small, but some that might be life changing.
Alternatively, they are frozen by a fear of failure. They don’t want to make a mistake, and given the number of choices that face them, they often make no decision, which is a decision in itself.
They are often persuaded by social media, which is like the blind leading the blind. Social media provides opinions based on the same emotional matrix of their generation. That is a recipe for disaster.
Due to extended adolescence where they don’t become adults until their late 20’s or later, they have deferred making hard decisions about relationships or careers.
Granted, not all decisions matter to the extent that you need to do critical thinking. But major decisions – life changing decisions – are ones that can get swept up into an emotional decision tree.
In my career, as a mentee developed experience, I stopped answering their questions which would make a decision for them. Instead, I would ask for their solution. I believed that if they did not have a solution (good or bad), they hadn’t thought through the issue enough.
This same approach is helpful for helping the next generation develop in their ability to think critically. I am cautious about providing my answer to solve their problem. Instead, I help them analyze their options. It’s their decision, after all, and I don’t have to live with the consequences.
Even small decisions can have a big impact, sometimes more than large ones. As Shawn Lovejoy notes, “We are one or two bad decisions away from destroying our life, and one or two good decisions away from turning our life around.”
On my recent Dude Ranch experience, I often asked the staff who were either millennials or Gen Z if they based their decisions on emotion, and they consistently said “Yes”.
Whether you like it or not, decisions will define you. The decisions you make today will end up being the stories of your life down the road.
So how do you make better decisions? I think it would be too easy to just say do some critical thinking for someone that has not advanced far in their ability to think critically.
A better way, as suggested by Shawn Lovejoy, is to adopt three habits which may aid anyone (not just leaders) to making better decisions.
The first habit is to seek out relationships with people who make good decisions. Turn to someone who has been successful in the area you are interested in. If it is about marriage, seek out someone who has had a successful one. The bottom line: find a mentor that can help you.
Don’t be shy: ask them questions like “What did you do when you were in my shoes?” They may not have the magic answer for you, but I am willing to bet they will advance your understanding of your decision, possibly from a vantage point you hadn’t considered.
The second habit is to be a personal advisor to yourself. This might be hard because you have to remove emotion from the equation. You need to ask yourself “What would I advise someone else in this position?” Alternatively, ask yourself “What would a great leader do in my circumstances?”
The last habit is to seek advice from the right people. You instinctively know who they are, and they probably aren’t your friends on social media who give such advice as “Go with your heart”.
Lovejoy says that he often asks the advice of 4 or 5 different people when making a large decision. He said he cannot even count the number of times that “this has saved my tail.”
Mentors are part of this equation. This is where you can reach out to someone who is ahead of you on the curve of where you want to go. In Japan, they call it Sensei, and the actual meaning of that word is “one who has gone before another.”
Mentors have been there and back. They probably have a T-shirt, too. For the next generation faced with a decision, the challenge is to take advantage of a mentor as a resource.
A mentors role is to help the mentee make the best decision possible given the known facts and circumstances. They can provide insights into issues they have encountered that the mentee may not have thought about or considered.
MENTOR TAKEAWAY: A mentor can be a valuable resource for a mentee to bounce problems off so they can be clear eyed when making a decision.
FURTHER STUDY: Shawn Lovejoy – 3 Habits that Make you a Better Decision Maker
WORSHIP: Listen to You Revive Me.
MentorLink:For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.
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Photo is courtesy of Dan Rush and used by permission.