Analysis paralysis is the poison that entrepreneurs continually feed themselves. We repeatedly go back and forth with our inquiries while trying to make perfect decisions. We listen to new specialists and new points of view. We hold meetings and watch presentations. We hear arguments from all sides. We form sub-committees. We spend countless hours on Google. Then, we determine that we do not have enough information for us to feel comfortable making a decision. So, we start all over with our planning.
Guess what? There are millions of people on this planet who are willing to get up every morning, put on their clothes and drag themselves to work so that someone else can tell them what to do. But it takes a true leader to be the one to make a decision. They are the ones who give direction, and who, ultimately, are willing to carry the burden of responsibility of success or failure on their shoulders.
In General Norman Schwarzkopf’s autobiography, It Doesn’t Take a Hero, he shares 14 rules for leadership. Rule 13 says, “When placed in command, take charge.” Making a decision is the only way to move forward. Yes, even incorrect decisions. A person who makes a thousand wrong decisions is better off than a person who makes no decisions at all. Why? Because a person who has made a thousand wrong decisions has ruled out a thousand things that do not work for them. They are much better prepared to move forward towards success than the person who is in day four of watching PowerPoint presentations on Plan A vs. Plan B.
No one is suggesting that you skip due diligence. However, you can look to government for a perfect example of sitting on the fence. Years of planning, debating, holding meetings, forming committees, forming sub-committees, putting together proposals and tabling the proposals, years later officials finally come up with a plan to put into action. Yet, once the plan is in place they have to continually make adjustments along the way anyway.
As human beings, we want to avoid mistakes and failure. Our brains have learned to associate pain with making the wrong decision. Therefore, we become fearful of making any decision unless we are absolutely certain. The control side of us is convinced that if we have all of the puzzle pieces (of data and facts) we can put together a perfect plan and avoid pain. If we do a little more research, a little more investigating, a little more analyzing, then we can avoid pain. But this is an illusion our minds have created.
The irony is that the tension and stress we endure while not making a decision is the exact same tension and stress we are trying to avoid with making the wrong decision.
There will never be a perfect plan. Successful entrepreneurs have become comfortable with uncertainty. They do not let indecisiveness drain them of energy and time. These entrepreneurs understand that making a decision, even a wrong one, is forward momentum. They have come to terms with the knowledge that making mistakes is a much better teacher than any committee presentation.
Ultimately, the only detrimental decision you can make for yourself and your business is to not make a decision at all.
How many of you have experienced analysis paralysis and put off a decision for weeks or months when it could have been made within days?
Related: How to Know When to Trust Your Gut