One of the great concerns of young adults is making a mistake – regardless of what the issue is. It is a perfectly natural feeling and even carries on into adult life. Many people live with this fear and tend not to do something because of just how strong that fear really is. The biggest mistake is to take that approach – doing nothing. That in and of itself is a mistake! So, if you have those thoughts don’t be surprised, it happens all the time. However, there are certain things you can do to minimize your fears and that leads directly into the issue of leadership and decision making.
Good, strong leaders are not afraid to make a mistake. As a young adult it is very important to develop a sense for this process so you are able to make tough decisions in whatever field of endeavor you enter. What if you are in the world of finance and need to decide on how to invest 10 million dollars of a client’s account? Or, if you are the commanding officer of a Navy missile frigate and need to decide about firing on another ship? Or, think of the decision made by Captain Chester “Sully” Sullenberger when he decided to land his plane in the Hudson River. Those decisions are certainly more challenging than where to go for a late night burger.
As you grow into an adult and are faced with decisions that become more and more significant you will be more adept in the process. That comes with maturity and the element of learning your [future] job. However, the decision making process outlined below will help you formulate your thinking – and, knowing that as a young adult will give you added confidence as you grow.
1. Learn and understand as much about the subject of the decision as is reasonably possible in the time available. The more you know about a subject/situation the easier the decision becomes.
2. Be certain to bring others you trust into the decision making process [if the situation allows for this opportunity]. This accomplishes many things including different viewpoints, options, and ideas. Think diversity! Include both male and female friends and others who may offer an alternative thought or idea.
3. Consider the consequences of making the decision – what are the positive and potentially negative results – a reward/risk ratio. If possible, write down the pros and cons. How are others impacted?
4. If the decision is about something personal [buying a house, vehicle] then write down your needs/wants and assign a value or weight to them. This will help avoid an emotional decision.
5. Make the decision; be decisive. However, as you begin to pursue the execution of your decision, be vigilant and watch your progress. You should always keep an open mind if new information suggests an alternative approach.
6. Do not fear your decision. Most of the time you will be right. If, however, despite your very best efforts something does not work out the way you had anticipated then the most important part is to “pick yourself up” and move on.
A good leader is someone who has the ability to not only be decisive but to paraphrase the great coach, Vince Lombardi, its’ not whether or not you fall down, its’ only important if you pick yourself up.
7. Finally, making a “mistake” is really a part of the learning process. Understand what happened and be certain you do not repeat the same actions that led to the decision. It is a wonderful learning experience!
Additional thoughts you might find helpful: As a young adult your earliest important decisions will most likely involve deciding on what field of endeavor to pursue, where to go to college, playing sports, buying a car, and so forth. These are important, no question, but they are not irreversible. While it would be ideal to choose the right college, for instance, if you decide after a semester you have not made the best choice, then work to correct the situation. Have the courage to make the necessary change and move on.
Also, consider some of the “early fears” young adults deal with; for instance, how many times does someone not ask a girl/guy for a date because of the fear of rejection? Happens every day! Or, how many people are afraid to stand in front of their classmates to make a presentation, or even participate in a class discussion for fear of saying something “wrong.” These are relatively, non-consequential issues but many people have difficulty dealing with such issues. If you are in that category then understand you are certainly not alone! Spending time on this website and learning the issues of personal leadership will go a long way towards overcoming those fears! As you build confidence in yourself decision making becomes much easier! Go for it.