I’ve made lots of bad decisions in my life. That includes my time in leadership—both in business and ministry, but I’ve also made plenty of bad decisions in family and personal situations. None of us set out to make bad decisions, but sometimes the way we make them can significantly increase or decrease the chance the quality of our decisions.
Granted, I’ve learned from every bad decision I’ve made. And I’ve even repeated a few of them a few times—and still learned something. But, as much as I can, I want to make better decisions—the first time.
In my experience, there are a few common factors that lead to me making a bad decision.
Here are 7 ways to make bad decisions:
Make them too fast – I’ve learned that haste does indeed make waste. I make lots of decisions each day. I would be a poor leader if I couldn’t make most of them quickly. I’d always be stalled from my potential. When the potential outcome is significant, however, the more time I can give to it the less likely I am to make a mistake—certainly the ones that could have been avoided with more thought. Learning when to wait, seek God, the counsel of others, and for better personal discernment is part of maturing, but can help us avoid some of the more costly bad decisions.
Make them too slow – Equally true, there are times when a fast decision is easy; even prudent. If I know the right answer—if it has a Biblical basis, for example, or my conscience is clearly convicted—but it is simply hard to implement, I’ve learned that waiting seldom makes the decision easier and often only complicates the process. I’m more likely to make a bad decision the longer I wait.
Make them to keep people happy – The right decision is seldom the popular decision. People pleasing as a decision motivator rarely accomplishes matters of worth. It often makes the worst decision of the options available.
Make them when angry – I don’t know about you, but I don’t think clearly when my emotions get in the way. If I’m angry—or emotional in any other way—I tend to overreact or under react. Emotionally based decisions, especially immediate decisions, are often ones I tend to regret later.
Make them alone – “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22) A part of leadership involves standing alone at times, but rarely are we really alone. We should always walk in the counsel of God’s Spirit, and, in my experience, even when I have to make the decision seemingly alone—if I’m making wise decisions—it’s not really that I’m alone. I’m just ahead of where others know we need to go, but haven’t yet been willing to go. Building a collaborative environment as much as possible helps me avoid bad decisions.
Make them reactionary – Ultimately we want to work from a plan. We want to make decisions before the decision is needed. We want proactive decision-making. That’s obviously not always possible, but in my experience, I’m more likely to make a bad decision when I’m reacting to a situation, rather than having thought about the scenario and my response beforehand.
Make them out of fear – We are called to walk by faith, yet fear is often a more powerful initiator. But I’ve learned, when I decide because I’m afraid to—or not to—do something, I almost always make a mistake. Following my faith gut, even when afraid, is part of leadership. And part of life.
I’m sure there are many other ways to make a bad decision. These are some of my personal examples.
Which of these get in your way the most in making good decisions?
What are some ways you end up making bad decisions?