Lots of people have told me that I've led a colorful life. I'll be 31 this year and have seen and experienced a lot courtesy my drive to not walk down the beaten path and my tendency to go with my heart and what I feel is the right decision as opposed to what is the easiest path. It however has never been the easy path. I have had multiple occasions when I've had to make tough decisions - whether it was to layoff staff, to fire people who were friends, to leave companies I founded and other decisions in my personal life. Today as I talk with friends I advise, I sometimes get a sense of deja vu as I see some of the decisions they are grappling with. I thought I would write a bit about some of the things I always try and keep in mind when I'm faced with tough decisions:-
1. I have obviously considered the facts and am unable to decide. What is my heart telling me when I reflect deep down inside?
2. Is the presence of loved ones and entrenched relationships coloring my decision making? Is my making the decision difficult because I know that going down the right path will hurt someone? Is that someone else rational and logical and would they have seen the merit of my decision if they were in my shoes? If so, can I work out a midway path that relieves some of their immediate discomfort as long as they let me proceed? Are they being unreasonably closed to a fair deal? If so, should I not do the right thing?
3. I am my own person and I will make every decision independent of the baggage of industry norms, cultural norms, and societal pressures. I will give people a fair chance to make it in spite of their circumstances and will stick my neck out for the meritorious side even if that means I may have to sustain short term pain.
4. Decisions always have consequences. It is foolish to expect that life is the same no matter what path you choose. Am I prepared to sustain financial, societal, reputational damage in order to make what I feel is the right decision? Are the people I am going to make this decision for prepared to stick by me even if the worst case scenario comes true?
5. Lastly, am I being consistent with all the commitments I have made if I make this decision? Have I ever directly or indirectly signaled that I will be going down a different path and caused people to be emotionally, financially and socially invested in this decision? Can I resignal?
While thinking through the above points helps me in arriving at my decision, I also feel having an experienced friend or guide to talk things with / share a drink with or else just vent to helps me tremendously. We usually know what we need to do. We just need to hear our thoughts aloud. And we need someone to tell us what we already know - It's time to be brave and courageous.
Lastly, this is a tip to esp. people who are facing tough decisions: Believe in God. In moments when things really get tough, it is comforting to believe that someone out there is listening to you and protecting you.
I leave you with something from Shakespeare
This above all, to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Act I,. Scene 3, Hamlet
All the best!!