Have you ever considered what a miracle it is that “you” wake up each day? This is not related to the spiritual or religious implications, but more just the shear number of independent decisions that go into making you still be you. Each reader is of course, welcome to add your own interpretations of how these miracles might occur. But by just shear numbers, the fact that “you” wake up each day is pretty fascinating. We now know that at any one time, we are made of some 10,0000,000 unique and individual cells, each making its own little decisions. And the cells or course, are made of molecules and atoms and electrons and quarks and on and on. It’s turtles all the down.
Each of these cells has an essentially independent life, or at least one can say that within that large population of cells that make up you or me at any one time, there are cells that at least surficially seem to behave in ways that are contrary to the overall well being of “you”. And yet, in general, the average population of cells appears to have a continuity, appears to be me or to be you, day after day.
So, I personally think it’s pretty cool when I wake up each morning. If the cooperation ever ended, if the mitochondria for example, went on strike, no more me! Without debating the spiritual connotations, there is some “force” that keeps my physically observable whirlpool of “me” coherent… until it’s not.
While that may be a little too fine grained relative to running a business – thank goodness we don’t have to get all ten billion cells in lockstep before we can even put on our socks in the morning! – the principle remains the same. “You” cannot really know the outcome of your decisions or how one decision will affect the rest of the organizational organism. In a real sense, you and I are “just” cells in a larger organism. Each of us has free will. Each cell can do what it wants. I’m not as clear about how the organism knows. But I take comfort in the fact that the organism for us (business, family, Earth) is yet “just” another cell in a larger organism. And so on. It’s turtles all the way up!
Still, there has to be some port in the storm. Not every decision fails or goes awry. Essentially, all the words I will write here head toward one basic conclusion – the average is very powerful. In most cases, the decision we’d made before will have about the same outcome this time. Most every time I drive to the grocery store, I make it, buy groceries and come back home. But every once in a great while, something won’t quite go as expected. Once, I parked in a big mall parking lot and got out to discover I’d parked on top of a $50 bill! Now, that was definitely unexpected. (And yes, no one was around, no way to identify the owner. So I backed up and snagged that bad boy!)
The picture up top indicates that what makes a decision less or more difficult is the certainty or uncertainty of its outcome. Finality and certainty make decisions seem solid and useful. An “easy” decision is driving to the grocery store. With some luck, that decision almost always leads to a predicted outcome for a predicted cost. A “hard” decision is taking a job in a new city. The outcomes are both unpredictable and could be catastrophic.
Easy decisions are easy. Hard decisions can go down two paths, resolved (either positively or negatively) in the short term or not very well resolved at all. You make it to your new city, where you either hate everything or love the entire experience. And those are sort of ok. If you really… really hate it, your decision is to start actions to leave.
It’s the ones in the Gray Havens, to use a Hobbit term, that are problematic. You get to your new city and you love the people, the town, everything. Except your job is just sort of blah so far. You see potential down the road for sure. But for now, it’s a little bit like working in the salt mines. These decision points can be recognized because your trusted confidants either have no advice or widely varying advice. These decision points are almost 50/50.
Hard decisions ALWAYS yield fruitful paths when viewed from a distant scale. We do not or are not always capable of seeing those paths, but they are opened in front of us. Do not be deflected by the fact that a new path is easy or certain, but rather that, whether with confidence or just blind faith, moving forward will get you some place new. To paraphrase Buckaroo Bonzi, “Wherever I’m going – that’s where I’ll be.”
And one other little tidbit to get us started. You can learn how to embrace change. Making a list of decisions from easy to hard and picking off some easy ones, noting that the decision ultimately did not move your Life trajectory in an uncontrolled way is a good start. It’s not fair to equate the world of business and Life to being in combat, but militaries learned from experience, less troops are lost by running into the fire. A great big, huge difference in Life and combat? In Life, when you get shot down, you get to get back up and even be stronger from the experience. But it takes a bit of practice to keep that head down, to keep making decisions and moving the organism forward.