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Adding Discernment to Your Decision-Making

You Need Discernment

When I watched this video my mind recalled many bad decisions I’ve made on teams. Too often, I’ve relied on the decisions of a group and skipped the all-important process of discernment. Then, before I knew it, my teams were working hard on something that’s not a good idea.

When that happens, it’s a waste and you know it… but you’ve suspended those emotions in an endless cycle of trying to turn a bad idea into a good one.

Timeless Principle: A bad idea, no matter how well executed, is still a bad idea.

You’ve been there, too. Someone on your team has an idea. They are impassioned and energized by the idea. They’ve done their homework. And they are persuasive. Consequently, in that moment, you set aside any notion that it’s a bad idea for fear that telling them such will make you stick out.

The result is that the bad idea really was bad. In the end, that person is far more demoralized from the failure than they would have been had you simply spoken up and told them it was a bad idea.

Embarrassed by this inner dialogue, you just move on. Hey, at least you didn’t rock the boat? And that bad decision is really on them. Right?

The answer has been there all along. You need discernment to avoid making bad decisions.

Discern Like an Old Person

If I’m truly honest I have to admit that this used to be my problem but now only rarely is. I’ve found myself on lots of teams that worked just like the one in the video. We made colossally bad decisions and wasted lots of time/money/effort on truly bad ideas.

This changed when one day I had a Risky Business kind of thought. I awoke to the reality that God didn’t put me on this earth to go along with the crowd. It’s not in my DNA or character. And no one pays me to be on a team that makes bad decisions. Therefore, I have to speak up and call out bad ideas. And when someone is trying to rush a decision, I’ve learned to slow the whole thing down to help navigate us into a discernment process.

Call Me Contrarian

Typically, when working with me on projects which involve decisions, I get two types of feedback. They either appreciate my level of honesty or they don’t. (In truth, I’ve learned many so-called leaders don’t want my your honesty/opinion/input. They just want you to shut up and do what they want you to do. And I don’t work well with those types of people.)

Past failures have taught me that when I see a dumb idea I need to tell you it’s a dumb idea. I’d rather risk not working with you at all, or offending you, or having an awkward conversation than work on an idea that will fail.

On the flip side, when you’ve got a great idea I’m going to jump with two feet to help you get it done. I’ll clear every hurdle. Whatever it takes I’ll make sure we do it.

My experience in the past 10 years has told me that speaking up and pushing decisions towards discernment ultimately makes me a much better teammate than keeping to myself.

What do you mean by discernment?

  • Slow the process down enough to listen. (To yourself, to others opinions, to God, and to all sides.)
  • Weigh the decision against your over all goals. (Is this leading you towards where you need to go?)
  • Research enough to factor the full cost. (Financially, emotionally, etc.)
  • Respond in a timely manner. (Don’t blame discernment on your indecisiveness. Instead, use discernment to make on-time decisions.)
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