The photo above is a statue of General George S. Patton, Jr. taken in front of the General Patton Memorial Museum in Chiriaco Summit, California.1 In my opinion, General Patton was one of the greatest generals to ever serve our nation. His nickname was “Blood and Guts,” and Patton knew how to make decisions.
Most people will not face the same life and death decision-making Patton did during World War II. Yet we can learn from his experiences. Patton said, “Making a decision too early will result in making too many changes. Making a decision too late always results in emergency decision making – pressure decisions.”2 Too early or too late, either one may create problems. However, that does not mean you can’t recover from the decision, but there may be unintended consequences.
How Do You Know if Your Timing is Right?
I have a magnet by my desk with a quote that reads, “Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.” I don’t want to oversimplify decision-making, but a lot of it boils down to judgment. What do you base your judgment on?
- Life experiences
- Training and education
- Weighing the options before you and counting the costs
- Seeking wise counsel
- Relying on your core values
Don’t Be Paralyzed by Decision-Making
If your house is on fire you need to make the decision to leave immediately and not delay. If you are buying a car, then you need to take more time to decide if it is the right one for you and if you can afford the vehicle.
Some people are fearful and paralyzed by decision-making. Don’t be that person! In the past I served as the chairman of the deacons in our church, and three of the members were engineers. When it was time to decide, you would have thought we were trying to place a communications satellite into geosynchronous orbit around the earth. The process drove me nuts!
I Can Help
I have been studying decision-making and situational awareness since 2007 and authored two research papers on the subject when I was a student in the Executive Fire Officer Program at the National Fire Academy. As a former battalion chief and incident commander, I know a thing or two about making decisions and I can help you and your team.
Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit my website at www.impactusleadership.com to find out how I can assist you in becoming a better decision-maker. Next week there will be more on this topic.
2Porter B. Williamson, General Patton’s Principles for Life and Leadership, (Tucson, AZ: Management and Systems Consultants, Inc., 1988), 175