Don’t Let Your Decision-Making Get In The Way Of Success

“I don’t want my decision-making to ever cost me in an event like this.” Those words were spoken by professional golfer Jordan Spieth after his Masters golf tourney victory, in April this year. Precious insight from a young man of 21.

That strategy is obviously still working for Spieth, currently, the world’s hottest golfer; witness this shot, and his victory, at the PGA (Pro Golfers Association) Tour event this past weekend:

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It’s interesting watching Spieth. He combines incredible skill and youthful zest, along with a collaborative mindset, most visibly with his caddy.

Observing great golfers can be very instructive (see my past writeups on Rory McIlroy and Bubba Watson).

Reasons your decision-making may be suspect

For Spieth, success is a golf ball in the hole. For others it may be a business sale, a positive family relationship…

When Spieth says he doesn’t want his decision-making to get in the way, I believe he is operating from these (among other) perspectives:

Relationships impact decision-making. Difficult decsions often requires conversations with yourself, and others. When we don’t trust our vision for the effort ahead, or feel how we will accomplish it, our self-trust suffers, and our decision-making and commitment become suspect. Similarly, when our relationship is only so-so, that reduces the quality of necessary conversation, information exchange, dialogue, etc., that precedes the decision. For the golfer, trying to figure out the project flight of a golf ball can at times seem like a moon launch. It requires a team. No team, no launch – at least no launch that reaches its’ target.

Effective decision-making is a craft. If we don’t understand the decision-making process, or never really learned the mechanics of effective decision-making, it’s easy to miss signals, ask the wrong question, not involve others, bring the wrong variables to the table… When we know our craft well, trust our talent, and consistently apply ourselves to what’s in front of us, the decision-making process becomes more automatic. We’ve done our due diligence (process). All systems are go. Press the button. Make the shot.

Three ways to make better decisions

Know yourself. Do your intentions and behaviours align? Can you see what you want to do, be? Are your behaviours/actions consistent with that view? A mismatch between one’s intentions and actions is the surest way to not meet expectations, a sure way to fail. If you want to hit a golf ball 200 yards over water, avoid the sand trap, and roll up to the pin, and your actions, your swing, don’t match that vision, it won’t happen. Better to act appropriately, to your capacities. Self-awareness will help you make the right decision. A recent Harvard Biz article offers up 5 Ways to Become More Self-Aware.

Talk it out. Sometimes, to trust that what you are about to do is the right thing, you need to talk it out with a confidante; a trusted business partner, your spouse, or in the case of the golfer, his or her caddy. I loved this dissection of the last golf major tournament (US Open in June), by sports writer, Shane Ryan; e.g., his observations on the failure of one golfer and the success of the other (Spieth, once again).

… Spieth, who kept up a neurotic monologue with Michael Greller (his caddy) all day, constantly seeking and receiving reassurance about the wind, the terrain, the distance, the break, and god knows what else. He uses Greller as his own personal security blanket, and Greller knows exactly how to play the role.

Working out loud. With the powerful audio mics employed by the TV networks these days, TV golf viewing is becoming a public learning opportunity.

Play the odds.  Should you trust your gut or go with complex analysis? Relying on your intuition may be your best decision in times of uncertainty. Simple rules of thumb, evolved through experience, and zoning out what’s not important, may be the way to go.

This weekend

Ten years ago, while on a family European vacation, I took a side trip to St. Andrews, the Scottish birthplace of golf, to catch that year’s British Open, as a spectator. The winner that year was Tiger Woods. Today’s #1 is arguably Jordan Spieth.

This weekend The Open is back at St. Andrews. If you are watching it online/TV, even for a few minutes, pay attention to the golfer/caddy dynamic. It may reveal a thing or two about decision-making, and success.

How do you keep your decision-making on the success path?

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