Decision-making is a funny thing. Part information, part psychology, often the results have little to do with critical thought and a lot to do with emotion. Often one emotion in particular rules over our reason: ego.
It’s the cause of every classic failure. The drive to carry on despite the many warning signs, the logic that says, “We’ve already spent 5 times our budget, we can’t stop spending now”, the blind overcommitment that pushes us beyond reason (and then some).
Behind it is the most basic human emotion: the protection of self that doesn’t want to admit we started out in the wrong direction. Ego tells us to ignore the warning signs, keep pushing and it will all work out in the end. Funny how those types of decisions rarely do.
How to Avoid Ego-Driven Decision-Making
Decide Slowly – Give yourself time to fully evaluate new directions. Look at it from every angle, ask questions and play out the “What if” scenarios. If possible, set up a test project to try out the new direction on a small scale before committing.
Set Time Limits – Place time limits on how long you will give a new initiative before calling it quits. Deciding how long to give a new direction before you launch eliminates the spiral of bad logic that tells you to “Give it just one more month.”
Pay Attention to Metrics – Constantly monitor and measure key success metrics, especially for new programs. Give them every chance to succeed by adjusting tactics and analyzing outcomes, but be prepared to pull the plug if it doesn’t pay off quickly.
Turn Off Emotion – Establish a core value system for weighing key decisions. For example, you may include personal enjoyment, skill development, and spiritual alignment as key values in determining new directions. That way if a new opportunity doesn’t fit, it doesn’t fit.
Watch for Signs of Ego – Pay attention to your own warning signs. Are you anticipating how other people will view your change of course and role-playing a justification speech? That’s a sure sign your inner voice is telling you something you don’t want to hear.
What other emotions are influencing your business decisions? Guilt? Obligation? Fear? The secret to not being swayed by them is recognizing them and stepping back in order to make your decision.