The Indecision Storm
My head snaps like a flag in the wind as indecisions storm in my mind.
- “Should I do this? Or not?”
- “Is this the right thing to say or is that?”
- “What should I do with my life/have for dinner?”
Indecision can sit heavy, like a coming thunderstorm, on our hearts and minds.
As I contemplated Indecision this past week, I got to thinking that it does not exist — Indecision is fear in heavy cloud cover.
There is an interesting coaching question I use, and have had used on me. When posed with a difficult question from the coach such as:
“Why do you think….?”
I replied, “I don’t know.”
Silence. And then, “If you did know, what would the answer be?”
And I always knew.
- I did not want to know it.
- I did not want to say it out loud.
- I did not want to speak my truth.
I did not want to have words I was hiding from exposed to the bright light of day for all to see. More important, I did not want the words I was hiding from to be illuminated by the bright light of day for me to see.
It was easier to hide them under the cloak of Indecision.
Sometimes, we hold having too many choices responsible for our indecision. “So many men, so little time” as the song goes. “So many job applicants, which one should I hire?” “So many marketing options, which one should I choose?”
- Indecision has allowed me to avoid having difficult conversations with a poorly performing employee.
- Indecision has allowed me to keep someone in a role they weren’t suited for.
- Indecision has allowed me to postpone the inevitable.
One of my agents was not performing. We had trained him, offered him support and mentoring. From the outside looking in, it appeared he was behaving like a rebel without a cause.
No more wasting my time or my trainer’s time. The rest of the team needed to see that I was holding him to the same standard I expected from them.
I didn’t have Indecision — I had fear, fear that I would lose an income generator. I imagined him abruptly pushing away from the table as the defensiveness rose, “I’ve done everything you said to do,” while knowing that was a lie.
I lifted the cloak of Indecision. I stared fear in the eye and said what I needed to say.
“You have 30 days to get on track. Or you can no longer work here.”
I count silently after delivering big messages like this. It keeps me from rescuing, from filling the vacuum of silence that follows those moments of truth.
The room was still, like the quiet before a big storm.
He leaned in from across the table, his intense blue eyes tear-glinted with determination. Or was it fear?
“Tell me what I have to do,” he said. “Again. And I’ll do it.”
And he did.
As leaders, we bear witness to indecisiveness both in our personal role and our role as mentors of our people.
If we can recognize indecision as fear and have strategies to minimize it, we can help our people grow.
Indecision may show up as the fear of making the wrong decision. Our job is to coach people to clearly define the problem so they can create potential solutions. We must let them choose and if they choose incorrectly, support them in clarifying:
- What they did right;
- What they should do differently next time;
- What they learned from the experience.
Let making mistakes be a process of learning, not an opportunity for blame and fear.
People can be afraid of failure and even more afraid of success. I used to tell my people they were going to learn and grow exponentially when we worked together. And because of this growth, there was going to be fallout — including outgrowing beliefs, behaviours, and even people.
A Holiday Inn slogan from years ago sums it up: “The best surprise is no surprise.” Knowing what failure and success can look like removes some of the fear, the cloak of Indecision.
All of us, particularly in our role as leaders, can be concerned about what other people think. We don’t want to hurt someone, but yet, we need to have difficult conversations.
Often, before I have a difficult conversation, I have a chat with myself.
I remind myself that although this difficult message needed to be delivered, it can be delivered with respect and compassion. I take a moment to shift from blame and frustration to a gentler disposition.
As the storm of Indecision raged in my mind the past few days, I paused. In my mind, I can control the weather. As I looked at it, the circumstance, I asked myself what I feared, what was holding me back from making a decision.
I saw the fear. And as I looked, it dissipated. The truth was in plain sight. It was time for me to act on the truth and quit hiding from the storms.