Death by Indecisiveness

I’m not sure if there is anything more useless than a leader who cannot or more likely, will not, make a decision. 

 

I know that sounds harsh but I’ve really held that belief since I was a seventeen year old High School senior. As a Senior Officer in my Military High School I had the responsibility of overseeing the small bore rifle range for a Freshman military class. 

 

One day a student’s rifle misfired and the student turned toward me looking for instructions on what to do. (We had only explained the proper procedure 1000 times) As he turned toward me the barrel of his rifle also tuned toward me and I hesitated to give direction for a split second. That was long enough for the round in the chamber to go off striking me in the foot. 

 

I was fortunate on many levels. I was wearing boots which helped and the round was only a .22 caliber, plus the 14 year old Freshman had kept the barrel of his weapon pointed toward the ground. It was a relatively minor injury and at the time I was more upset about my boot than my foot. 

 

But I was also unfortunate. I was unfortunate (in hindsite also foutunate) in that the active duty military person on the range that day was Sergeant Major Stock. To say that he was mad would be the understatement of my entire four years of High School. 

 

Funny thing was, he wasn’t mad at the kid who shot me; he was furious with me. He was furious because he said my indecision, as brief as it was, could have gotten me killed. 

 

I stood there with blood oozing out of my boot while he screamed at me about the importance of making decisions. I distinctly remember him “explaining” that even a wrong decision was better than no decision. He said that in fact a “no decision” was a decision, it was a decision to not decide and that was a sure way to lose all control over a situation. 

 

He said that even when you make a wrong decision you retain control over changing it, improving it, or fixing it. He said doing something, deciding something, was always better than doing nothing or deciding nothing. ALWAYS! I think he actually said always like a dozen times, each time a little louder than the previous. 

 

Needless to say the whole thing made quite an impression on me and I’ve never forgotten the lesson I learned that day. It’s probably why I have so little patience for people who claim to be leaders and then show little ability or desire to make even small decisions.

 

Perhaps they believe they are playing it “safe” by not making a decision but in fact, they couldn’t be more wrong.

 

The inability to make a decision is as serious a flaw as a leader can have. It has killed as many careers as dishonesty, stupidity and lack of good judgment combined. 

 

I’m not suggesting that anyone make decisions on a whim. I’d highly recommend that a leader get as many facts regarding a particular situation as possible before making a decision. You may not have all the facts you would like to have but once you get all the facts that you’re going to get in a reasonable amount of time then you need to make a decision. DECIDE! It’s what leaders do. 

 

There are a lot of reasons that people in leadership positions hesitate when making decisions, the fear of making a bad decision, the fear of making someone mad or disappointing them and the fear that you just don’t know the right choice to make. I get all of that but none of those are valid reasons for delaying what needs to be done, they are merely excuses for avoiding a major responsibility of leading.

 

If you really don’t have the confidence or ability to make a decision then find a coach or mentor who can help you develop that critical skill. I know as a leader you will be required to make decisions that impact the lives of those you lead. I know that is not easy. Leading, truly leading, is not easy. 


But if you’re going to have the audacity to label yourself a leader then you have to make decisions. You simply must! Always, always, always……

The Mixed Messages of If

I could be the wealthiest person on the planet “if only” I had been the one to invent computers. Of course I would have needed to know what a computer was but let’s not get bogged down in facts. 

 

I could have invented Facebook “if only” I had that darn computer.

 

“If only” I could have gotten a break here or there everything could have been different. 

 

When I hear people using “if” in that context, followed immediately with “only,” I frankly feel kinda bad for them. I feel bad for them because they apparently didn’t have anyone to tell them that “if” in that form is a self-created obstacle that the most successful people don’t allow to enter their vocabulary.

 

This is a hard reality but the fact is less successful people use the “if only” phrase way too often, I suspect they think it even more than they say it. “If only” absolutely crushes possibilities and binds us with limitations. The mindset of “if only” provides a ready excuse and I don’t know about you but when I have a ready made excuse I tend to use it.

 

The most successful people use if from time to time as well but they don’t have only behind it they have “what” in front of it. As in “What If.” 

 

“What if” opens up a world of possibilities. I can’t imagine a good idea that wouldn’t have began with at least the thought of “what if” even if it wasn’t spoken out loud. When you develop the “what if” mindset you give yourself the opportunity to accomplish anything.

 

“What if” you weren’t afraid to fail? What would you be doing differently this very day?

 

“What if” is the start of change, it changes the status quo and is the beginning of the destruction of every limitation there ever was. “What if” you just decided to risk showing the world exactly who you are? “What if” the real you was the best person ever? 

 

“What if” explodes a world of opportunity from the “if only” shell that hides it all away. 


The next time you hear someone say “if only” do them a huge favor and ask them “what if” in return. You just might change their life! 

What You Actually Own

So, let’s begin with my personal definition of “own.” For me “own” means it’s mine and it can’t be taken from me. I don’t owe a dime on my house but there are a bunch of ways I could lose it. I have in my possession lots of cool stuff that could be stolen, lost, destroyed or otherwise taken from me. Even if you say l “own” that stuff it’s at best temporary.

 

No matter how much “stuff” you may claim to own you’re not going to leave this world with very much and there is nothing you can do to change that. 

 

But there are two things in this world I absolutely own and so do you.

 

The first is my self-respect. 

 

Eleanor Roosevelt, the diplomat and former First Lady said,  “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” 

 

What an incredibly insightful statement. I first heard that in High School and boy did it come in handy. I went to a Military High School and the military staff worked overtime to try and make us feel inferior. That was back in the day when the concept of “you have to tear them down before you can build them up” was very much in vogue. They had the tearing down part totally mastered. 

 

But very few people really know me well enough for their opinion of me to matter. I’d bet that’s very much the case with you as well. So don’t let people who have not lived your life “help” you to determine your self-worth. They have no idea what you have overcome or are living with right now. Their opinion is just that, an opinion. It’s an opinion formed without many of the facts required to be accurate so put no more value in it than it deserves.

 

Always put a ton more value on the SELF part of self-respect and then be honest with yourself.  Never cut yourself more “slack” than you would someone else. You darn well know the difference between right and wrong and if it’s wrong for someone else it’s highly likely that it’s wrong for you too. 

 

The second thing that I absolutely, positively own, as do you, is the right to choose my own attitude. No one, regardless of their position, title, or importance in my life can take that from me…or you.

 

There are no circumstances, no problems, and no situations in life that can steal that right from you. 

 

In his amazing book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Viktor Frankl describes the ability to choose one’s own attitude as the last of the human freedoms and the only one that can never be taken from us. 

 

By the way, Viktor Frankl survived the Holocaust and in those horrible days he held on to the ability to choose his attitude so be careful when saying that your own circumstances make it impossible. You truly can choose your attitude no matter what!

 

Living an honest life while trying to make a difference in this world will make it easier to keep your self-respect when some around you would like to destroy it. Maintaining a healthy self-respect will make it far easier to choose a positive attitude. The two go hand-in-hand.


Healthy self-respect and a positive attitude are choices, they are choices you own and always will. Never forget that, not even for a second!


Price and Value Are Not the Same

My Grandfather used to say “Price without quality is waste.” What he meant by that of course was that getting a good price on a bad or wrong product was not a good deal.

 

He ran a small grocery store for nearly 50 years. He started when all grocery stores were small and it was his philosophy on price vs value that allowed him to survive when the “corner stores” were being devoured by the Supermarkets. 

 

He knew that “price” was simply what people paid and that “value” was what they received in return. When people were convinced that there was additional value to be had they would willingly pay an additional price. 

 

Good organizations and great salespeople know that same thing. They do not sell on price, they instead sell the value that their product or service offers their customer. 

 

To be sure there are some people who buy almost solely on price. Most often these buyers won’t be tempted by value because they are relatively short-term thinkers. A common refrain is “I can buy two of these for what I’d pay for one of those.” That could be true but what they fail to see is that the “one” will perhaps last 4 times longer than the “two.” 

 

But here’s another reason so many people seem to buy on price: poor salespeople cause them to make that mistake. 

 

Poor salespeople do not have the ability to communicate the value their product provides the customer. When a poor salesperson, or more likely, a poorly prepared salesperson hears their price is too high they immediately begin thinking they need to discount their price to earn the business. What they don’t understand is that they aren’t “earning” anything by accepting less for their product or service, they are merely buying a sale. 

 

When a salesperson buys a sale it’s likely everybody loses. The salesperson and their company obviously loses; they have built value into the product and they are not receiving the money they need to sustain that value. 

 

But here’s a surprise; the customer likely loses too. They lose because the product or service that they want will eventually go away. If it doesn’t go away the service that came with it will decline and they will really need the service because the value and quality in that product will almost certainly decrease over time. 

 

When I was just a kid I’d be at the Farmer’s Market at 4:00am on Saturday morning with my Grandfather to hand select only the finest, freshest fruits and vegetables that our customers would buy later that day. 

 

I suppose that most people don’t remember those days but when I walk into the produce area of my local supermarket today all I see is the stuff we wouldn’t touch back then. Today if you want truly high quality fruits and vegetables you either go to a speciality market or you go directly to the Farmer’s Market yourself…and you pay more, especially at the specialty markets,…because you see value in the quality. 

 

It turns out, price without quality IS waste, maybe not a complete waste but you’re certainly not getting what you pay for.

 

If you’re a salesperson today then learn the difference between price and value. Understand that you’re doing your customer a disservice by not explaining the value your product or service provides to them.

 

They may feel lucky getting a good price today but the sting of poor quality far outlasts that lucky feeling. 


Your customers, and most every bit of research supports this, your customers would rather pay a fair price for true quality than receive a low price on an inferior product. When you understand that absolute fact then you understand what you need to know to actually earn a customer’s business.

Don’t Quit

Do you want to succeed? Then don’t quit! There you have the most well known “secret” to success….you can’t be beat if you refuse to quit.

 

It seems so obvious but it’s amazing how many people actually do quit and they quit within site of their ultimate of success. Perhaps they were doing such a good job of “keeping their head down” that they just couldn’t see it but it was there none the less. They only needed to keep moving forward and they would have found their success. But they quit instead.

 

You can’t be beat if you never quit. No matter how “down” you are you still have a chance if you don’t give up. 

 

Look the world over and you won’t find a successful person who quit. They may have slowed down, they may have even stopped for a time, they may have backed up, they may have had an interim failure or two or three but they tried again. Every single one of them.

 

A common trait of successful people is that when tempted to quit they remember why they started. They “re-dream” their dream and often times that alone is enough to motivate them to continue. Other times they call on their support network; family, friends, or mentors to provide them with the courage and encouragement they need to press on. 

 

Two things seem certain when it comes to your success: only you can make the decision to quit and only you can make the decision not to.  


Never expect success to come easy but know without a doubt that when you quit, it doesn’t come at all. 

The Importance of Leadership

If you’re an Authentic Leader then you know that leadership is about people. You understand that things are managed and people are led. 

 

Not all managers are also tasked with leading people but nearly all, or more likely absolutely all, leaders are also tasked with some management responsibility. 

 

And that’s a problem. 

 

It’s a problem because the management “stuff” almost always comes with deadlines. Quarter end, year-end inventory, budget preparation for the upcoming year, planning, bill paying, payroll, you name it, when it comes to managing it HAS to be done and it has to be done on time.

 

But leading seldom has deadlines. You’ll always have people and it is easy to let people wait. You can always recognize somebody later. “Someday” is the perfect time to coach or mentor a rising star in your organization. There’s always tomorrow in the world of leadership but I challenge you to find later, someday or tomorrow on your calendar. 

 

Virtually every leader I’ve ever asked has told me that their people are their greatest asset but follow them around for a week and you would be certain that statement was false. You’d be certain it was false because all the management stuff seems to be a priority while the leadership responsibilities and activities all seem to be optional.

 

The fact is the management stuff is urgent while the leadership behavior is merely important and in the fast-paced, competitive environment where most of us work urgent almost always trumps important.

 

But here’s the thing, the best, most effective leaders don’t let the urgent win. They literally schedule leadership activities in their calendar. They set aside time to interact with their people. They block out time on their calendars to get out from behind their desks and go into the workplace where their people are. They make it a point to provide frequent and meaningful recognition.

 

Authentic Leaders know that you can’t lead people without being involved and interacting with them. They understand that you can’t lead people you don’t care about and you can’t show you care about them until you know them.  


Be an Authentic Leader. Never let the urgent “things” overtake the absolute importance of truly leading the people who are ultimately responsible for your success and the success of your organization. 

Where Management and Leadership Skills Meet

I have written several times on the vast difference between managing and leading. Managing is about “stuff’, budgets, inventory, buildings, executing plans, etc. Leading is about people and only about people. 

 

Simply put, if you’re doing it for your business it’s managing. If you’re doing it for your people then it’s leadership. 

 

When what you’re doing is good for the organization AND a person or persons it’s what I call Manleaship.

 

The skill sets and more importantly the mindset of managers and leaders are almost completely different. It is very common in business that a person is either a manager or leader but not both. 

 

A business or organization that has people with good management skills and other people with good leadership skills can do okay, but only okay. A business or organization that has a person, or hopefully people, who have good management skills combined with good leadership skills can do better than okay…much much better. 

 

Managers likely know and understand the skills and abilities of their people. Managers, and I DO NOT mean this in a negative sense, tend to look at their people as assets or resources which in some sense they are. But leaders, especially Authentic Leaders and especially, especially, Authentic Servant Leaders look at their people as people, living breathing people with wants and needs, and challenges with a life outside of the workplace.

 

Managers and leaders have a different, sometimes very different, view of the same picture.

 

If a business or organization is going to do more than just okay then they need to make sure each person within their organization is in a position or performing a role that allows them the greatest chance for success. Some leaders and managers seem to forget that they and their organization cannot be successful if the people who make up the organization are unsuccessful. 

 

Never forget, as a leader or a manager you will never be more successful than your people.

 

So imagine how hard it is to help people succeed, to place them in roles with the greatest chance for success, when you only see one view of their picture. Throughout my career I’ve seen friends, family, and colleagues promoted or placed into positions where they had no chance to be successful. 

 

They may have had all the skills needed to excel but they did not have the temperament. Their physical and mental skills may have been excellent but their people skills simply didn’t measure up. Perhaps they had outstanding human relation skills but lacked some vital skill in another area. 

 

A pure manager or a pure leader could easily miss those critical facts. 

 

A person with both skill sets, or Manleaship skills likely would not. 

 

The combination of management and leadership skills may not be needed all that often but when it’s needed it’s really needed. So if you’re at or near the top of an organization that hasn’t been blessed with people who possess Manleaship skills then you need your managers and leaders to be talking with each other everyday. 


Who knows, that endless conversation may just result in them sharing their skill sets and you could end up with lots of people with Manleaship skills. Then you’ll be doing way better than just okay!