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Change invigorates but decisions are hard.


I’m on the other side of a leadership transition and I’m actually finding it’s hugely invigorating. My attitude is more positive and my physical energy has increased (and of course there’s a connection between these things but that’s not what this blog is about!)

The poignancy of noticing this new ‘invigorated me’ is personally useful because the steps towards this change, particularly the piece about actually taking some tough decisions was really very hard. We know taking some decisions can be harder than others as one of the things we get good at with our clients is helping them with the time and space to think through their decisions for change. So what is it that makes decision making so hard sometimes?

We invite you to look at this by exploring the brain. It doesn’t really matter if it’s fast or slow change, the brain isn’t going to like it much. We’re programmed for ordinary. We’re wired for the status quo, anything else takes much to much cognitive and emotional energy.

It doesn’t take a neuro -scientist to tell us (although it’s useful affirmation) that some things are just difficult to take decisions upon….. NB. To have a couple of examples from your leadership and life may be useful to hold on to as you read the rest of this and try and make sense of what’s going on.

Let’s consider some of the biases, limits to our thinking and motivational leads which generate complexity in decision making….
1.    A bias towards the present: We would all much rather sacrifice grand rewards in the future for some payback today (and by the way that’s how our brain simplifies things – reward v threat). Think about when you have over valued the present and not risked something better in the future. Without noticing this bias we are at risk of making choices which contradict the desires of our future self.

2.    Mental shortcuts:  Habits – do I need to say any more? We simplify the whole decision making process (often not consciously) by being over reliant on the safety of the current patterns and habits in our lives.

3.    Analysis paralysis:  There is a constraint on the amount of information we can process at any one time. Put this in the context of the pace at which we try to take decisions and amount of things we are expected to juggle as leaders and the whole decision making process becomes emotionally flooded, often leading to …”just not being able to think straight”.

4.    Overplay of extrinsic motivators: All around us in business people are playing to our extrinsic motivators; Just a few examples might be…. pay, promotion, increased resources, discounts off great deals and other material incentives. If listened to too intently these they can drown out intrinsic motivators (our internal system of values, beliefs, desires) which provide greater long term and enduring benefits.

When we understand some of our human barriers to decision making we can start to operate with much greater awareness. We invite you to pay attention to these barriers in a way that they are welcomed as simply part of our protective system for change and not beacons which block our view to the future.

Get in contact and share any stories which resonate or comment on our barriers above.

At Elevate we’re a business of people who we can help businesses and individuals take the right and often difficult decisions. Contact us for any enquiries or simply to get curious about what we do.

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