Strategy is about making choices. Planning is about putting the ducks in a row. Between strategy and planning we find a lot of emotions. Usually about choices we made, need to make or are hesitant to make. Even when we’re clear on our strategy and the plan, executing our plan is sometimes hard.
We often delay making choices because delay is more comfortable in the short term. We agonize over choices when they involve difficult decisions and conversations. We sometimes delay conversations when we need to say things that aren’t easy for others to hear. As a result, we delay our decision-making, something that only hurts us more.
Take a common example we confront when working with our clients. It’s not uncommon for someone we’re working with to delay the termination of a long-time employee or even the ending of a partnership that’s just not working. Instead, they go along to get along and pass the tough talk down to their future selves.
Our day-to-day decisions make or break our futures. There are two pieces of advice we find useful in helping people push through difficult decisions. The first is to be merciless in the decision, and merciful in the execution. It’s better to make a poor decision than to make no decision at all. Just make the decision—today. Too many of us wait until we’re absolutely frustrated with the situation. By then, our emotions have taken over and we’re in an angry state when the difficult conversation finally happens. Take the time for tough conversation. Things are often much better on the other side of such conversations.
Our second piece of advice is to ask yourself what is already true that you are unwilling to accept. One client recently responded to this with, “I can’t answer that out loud, because then I’ll have to do something about it, and I’m not ready.” There you have it. She wasn’t ready.
Most of us, on some level, are fully aware of the difficult choices we need to make. We know exactly which awkward conversations we need to have. Yet, we delay because that’s just easiest. We pass them on to our future self just so we don’t have to deal with them today.
Consider those two prompts:
• How can you be merciless in the decision, and merciful in the execution?
• What’s already true and you are unwilling to accept?
What would need to be different for you to take both questions seriously? At its core, strategy is about making choices. We execute our strategy in the day-to-day conversations we have. When we fail to turn those tough conversations into better conversations we delay the inevitable. What will you be doing differently in response to these two questions?
If you’re looking to achieve growth in any area of your life, whether it’s personal or professional, setting clear objectives is a crucial first step. That’s why we’ve written a blog post titled “Setting Objectives Is Essential to Driving Growth,” where we explore the importance of goal-setting and provide actionable tips for effective objective-setting.