January 29, 2014 – First journal entry of the new year. I survived Atlanta’s “Snowpocalypse” yesterday. I am thankful and full of joy this morning. Here’s my story…
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the Atlanta Metro area on Monday, January 27. It forecasted one to two inches of snow the next day. Nothing freaks Atlantans out more than a good snowstorm. It can cripple the city. Why? The “city in a forest” has deep tree coverage and rolling hills. The above-ground powerlines become vulnerable to falling trees weighed down by snow; power can be lost for days. No one knows how to cope with the inclement weather. At the threat of snow, we all panic and rush to buy a loaf of bread, milk, and alcohol to endure the event, like it’s the end of the world.
Our city is infamous for its horrendous traffic; it can take hours to get anywhere. The Atlanta Metro area has four major Interstates, I-75, I-85, I-20, and I-285, accommodating dense traffic volume. It also has miles and miles of two-lane, narrow, curvy roads that extend throughout the city. Since the Atlanta Metro area comprises multiple outlying suburbs, most people commute to work, accessing the interstates through the zigzagging artery roads. And, no one knows how to drive in wintery conditions – some would argue that Atlantans don’t know how to drive at all.
Now, add winter weather to the commuting mix. When snow falls and roads become icy, travel conditions quickly deteriorate. The city government didn’t have enough snowplows to clear significant thoroughfares, neglected to salt the streets before the first snowflake, or encouraged residents to stay off the roads. Leadership was absent and didn’t take the forecast seriously. The governor and mayor were attending a luncheon where the mayor was honored as the Associated Press’s “Georgian of the Year.” The mayor overconfidently tweeted, “Atlanta, we are ready for the snow.”  We weren’t.
I was overconfident too. I grew up in Colorado and didn’t understand all of the fuss. I learned how to drive in all kinds of winter conditions; I wasn’t worried if a bit of snow fell. While confident that the imminent storm was no personal threat, I sent a note to my team telling them to watch the weather and leave early if needed.
I drove to work as usual on Tuesday, an 18-mile, 60-minute commute. Most of the morning, I attended meetings, with my last one scheduled at Noon. I looked out the 16th-floor conference room window during the final meeting and saw giant snowflakes. The wind was picking up, and the storm intensified into what would ultimately become whiteout conditions. I looked down at the streets below and noticed that the intersections around the building were already jammed with traffic. My friend Paula called and encouraged me to leave the office. She warned me that any delay might mean I’d not make it home. I thought to myself, “Yeah, right. I’m from Colorado. I can handle this. Y’all panic. I got this.” I decided to ignore Paula’s advice, finish the meeting, and leave immediately afterward.
My Noon meeting unexpectedly lasted until 1:45 pm … The weather conditions deteriorated even more, and traffic was snarled. From my vantage point on the 16th floor, I could see red tail lights for miles. I gathered my belongings to begin my trek home. I raced down to the parking garage and noticed a long line of cars waiting to exit. I asked the security guard what was going on, and he told me that drivers on the street weren’t allowing cars to leave the garage. Traffic was at a standstill, gridlocked. Then came the bad news… It would take 90 minutes to get out of the garage and onto the side street.
“How long has the parking garage been backed up?” I asked.
“About 45 minutes,” he said.
Ugh. If I’d ended the meeting at 1:00 pm and gotten in my car, I might have avoided the mess.
“Do you know why the traffic is so bad?” I asked.
The security guard said, “All of the businesses and schools closed simultaneously. Everyone is trying to get home or pick up their kids.”
So, let me get this straight. A massive snowstorm and everyone downtown or in school were released at the same time? Are you kidding me? No wonder there was so much congestion. I turned around, returned to my office, and thought that the traffic would dissipate if I waited a little longer. Boy, was I wrong!
I sat in my office for the next three hours, trying to decide whether to spend the night in the office or risk driving home. I decided to go home and left at 4:45 pm. It was almost dark. Indeed the traffic would have cleared out by now.
I decided to get on I-75 because it was the most traveled path and thought it would be most clear vs. the side streets. It took an hour to go one mile. One of the most brilliant things I did before going further was to fill up my Toyota Camry’s gas tank. The full tank gave me confidence that I wouldn’t run out of gas as I made my way home. I packed water, a turkey sandwich, and vegetables. I also had an empty cup in case I needed to relieve myself. I knew it would take an ample supply of patience and prayer to make it home safely.
And it did. My journey home took 12 hours to drive 18 miles. I experienced complete standstill traffic in many spots and extremely icy conditions on hills. Driving was like playing “Frogger,” an old video game where the object was to cross a river avoiding traps, hazards, and enemies. I dodged stalled, wrecked, or abandoned cars working my way up I-75. Conditions were significantly adverse at Moore’s Mill and West Paces Ferry exits. Many cars and trucks couldn’t gain traction. It was difficult to start after a complete stop going uphill on ice. I almost got stuck outside of Moore’s Mill switching lanes, and my tires wouldn’t grip initially. Adrenaline kicked in. My heart started beating rapidly as I shifted gears and worked to advance my car. Thankfully, I quickly gained control and moved forward. Because of my traction issues, I made the hard choice not to aid other travelers. I watched people with good intentions get out of their vehicle to push another car or truck out of harm’s way only to become immobilized themselves. I know that sounds cold, but I knew that if I stopped to help someone, I’d risk being stuck as well. My mission was to get home.
After traveling 10 miles in 11 hours, I crossed the Chattahoochee bridge into Cobb County. Traffic thinned. It was like making it through the gauntlet with a few lone survivors and one last test. The scene ahead of me looked like the end of the world with more stalled cars in the middle of the road. Dimly flashing hazard lights everywhere indicated a vehicle that was abandoned; drivers gave up, got out, and started walking. The ice grew thicker as the pavement disappeared. No traction was possible. All I could do was downshift to keep control of my speed and keep moving. I knew I may not get started again and would need to abandon my car if I stopped. Thankfully, I made it over the bridge, exited on Delk Road, and slowly crawled home. Unlike the city of Atlanta, Cobb County cleared and salted the roads. It took only 30 minutes to travel from the exit to my house.
Snowpocalypse was worse than you can imagine… See for yourself. Watch the CNN report, “Storm Paralyzes Atlanta, Causes Chaos”: https://youtu.be/Uwc2pidiJKo
After the taxing ride, I arrived home at 4:30 am. This was all caused by schools and businesses releasing their folks at the same time and during the start of the storm, no salt on the roads, and a lack of city government leadership. But I take personal responsibility for making a series of terrible decisions that led to my delay. I exercised awful judgment. Should I have left at Noon and heeded Paula’s advice? Yes, but I ignored her call to action. Should I have left after the meeting at 1:45 pm and endured the parking garage delay? Yes, but I was impatient and further delayed. Should I have stayed the night at the AOC? Maybe, but I was overconfident that the ride home would be troublefree because I was an experienced winter condition driver. I take personal responsibility for these inept decisions. Not once did I pause to anticipate conditions or circumstances, let alone pray about what I should do.
Despite all my bad judgment, I am very thankful that I made it home and for those that prayed for my safety. It was a great exercise in patience, prayer, and trusting the Lord as I worked my way home. A great analogy for life. And this is just my story. There are countless others. I think about kids on school buses stuck on the road trying to get home. I remember all of the folks who wrecked or abandoned their cars… Or, people spending the night in places like Home Depot because they couldn’t go any further.
As a side note, I did make one sound decision that night. Remember the cup I mentioned? I used it and learned that having an empty cup comes in handy in these types of situations, if you know what I mean 😉
Have you ever experienced a set of circumstances like I did? Have you made one wrong decision that led to another, and the outcome wasn’t what you planned? If so, know that you can weather the challenges you face, learn to make better decisions, and experience positive results by applying the below principles:
Exercise Good Judgment. Make the right decisions using good judgment. What is judgment? It’s “the ability to combine personal qualities with relevant knowledge and experience to form opinions and make decisions. It is what enables a sound choice in the absence of clear-cut, relevant data, or an obvious path.”  It’s the ability to anticipate, see parallels and patterns in data or circumstances that lead to positive decisions or outcomes. To develop good judgment, you’ll need to become a good listener, seek diverse thoughts, and gain experience making decisions. The choices you make build upon each other; they compound over time. They also have a ripple effect, impacting those around you – your family, friends, company, community, school, and place of worship. Decision-making is so vital that I want to focus your attention on the simple process for a moment.
Did you know “various internet sources estimate that an adult makes about 35,000 remotely conscious decisions each day [in contrast, a child makes about 3,000]? This number may sound absurd, but in fact, we make 226 decisions each day on just food alone, according to researchers at Cornell University. As your level of responsibility increases, so does the smorgasbord of choices you are faced with:
what to eat
what to wear
what to purchase
what we believe
what jobs and career choices we will pursue
how we vote
who to spend our time with
who we will date and marry
what we say and how we say it
whether or not we would like to have children
what we will name our children
who our children spend their time with
what they will eat, etc.” 
The more complex the decision, the more thinking you’ll need to do. When faced with an important decision to make or a problem to solve, I recommend following the below steps:
- Define the decision to be made. This may be the hardest part. Write down the decision to be made or a problem to be solved. Why is it essential to make or solve? What if you don’t decide or solve the problem? What if you delay? Is what you articulated the actual decision that needs to be made? How do you need to refine it? How will a sound decision benefit you and others?
- Identify alternatives. Brainstorm multiple options, gather information, and engage those who need to be involved in decision-making or problem-solving. List the pros and cons of each alternative and predict possible outcomes. Ask questions like Which option will produce the most significant results at the lowest cost? How difficult will each choice be to implement? And, are the alternatives congruent to your or your key stakeholder’s values?
- Choose the best alternative. Evaluate each option and choose the one that will produce the highest return or good. Understand the risks you are taking, be able to explain how you made the decision, and move forward. A sage once told me, “a wise man makes a decision and doesn’t look back.”
- Implement your choice. Develop a plan, secure the resources, gain support, and put your decision into action. Monitor its progress. Not all decisions result in positive outcomes. Some decisions are plain wrong. You’ll make mistakes. If you fall off the horse, get back on. Have the courage to make changes when needed. On the flip side, some of your decisions will be sound and will produce positive results.
- Reflect on your choice and outcomes. Post decision and implementation, take time to think about what happened. What worked? What didn’t work? What can I do differently next time? How can I apply what I learned? As Peter Drucker said: “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”
Developing good judgment requires experience, reflection, and applied learning. If you follow the above decision-making process consistently, you will make more and more decisions that produce positive outcomes over time. You’ll see patterns and parallels that you didn’t see before. You’ll develop the ability to anticipate results and synthesize information at a whole new level. And you’ll make a positive difference in the world around you.
Be Tenacious. When I got in my car and started home, I realized that I had made a series of bad decisions and didn’t exercise sound judgment. But I realized that I still needed to get home. I had to make good decisions that would enable my safe return. Even though I made mistakes, I didn’t let them stop me. Thankfully, I didn’t give up and stayed with it. Don’t give up when you’ve made a wrong decision or experienced a negative outcome. Learn from your mistakes. Find the inner resolve, dogged persistence, and single-mindedness to keep moving forward. Meet your objective, complete the play, or finish the race. I am reminded of the following illustration about reaching the finish line despite adversity:
Hours behind the runner in front of him, the last marathoner finally entered the Olympic stadium. By that time, the drama of the day’s events was almost over, and most of the spectators had gone home. This athlete’s story, however, was still playing out.
Limping into the arena, the Tanzanian runner grimaced with every step, his knee bleeding and bandaged from an earlier fall. His ragged appearance immediately caught the attention of the remaining crowd, who cheered him on to the finish line.
Why did he stay in the race? What made him endure his injuries to the end? When asked these questions later, he replied, “My country did not send me 7,000 miles to start the race. They sent me 7,000 miles to finish it.” 
Like the Tanzanian runner, set your mind to reach the finish line. Don’t let a few bad decisions or mistakes get in the way. Learn from them, make better decisions, and you’ll eventually experience positive results.
Pray. I’ve heard people say that the only thing they can do is pray. For the believer, praying is the first and most important thing you can do. Seek God for his protection, guidance, and wisdom. Ask him what to do, wait on him, and he will show you. Regarding my Snowpocalypse experience, I was way too confident in my winter condition driving experience. I took things into my own hands and experienced an unfortunate set of circumstances. But when I got on the road, I quickly surmised that it would take more than my driving skill and experience to get home. I turned to God and asked for his help. I had multiple conversations with him along the way—time to think and reflect. I also prayed for stranded passengers as I passed them. Looking back, I am convinced that the Lord protected me and enabled me to arrive home safely.
Snowpocalypse was a paralyzing weather event in the Atlanta Metro area. But the great thing about the city government is that people learned from their mistakes. The next time snow and ice were forecasted, the city went into action mode. They announced school closures early, pre-treated the roads with over 3,000 lbs. of de-icing materials, and encouraged everyone to stay off the streets. Residents followed the leadership’s direction, and Atlantans avoided the problems incurred during Snowpocalypse. Personally, I learned the need to make the right decisions, endure adverse conditions, and the power of prayer. If you learn to exercise good judgment, are tenacious in challenging circumstances, and don’t give up and pray, you will experience positive results.
Do you want to learn more about making sound decisions and becoming a leader others will gladly follow? Visit my website, prestonpoore.com, today!
 The Washington Post, Four lessons Georgia learned about snowstorms, February 13, 2014, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/four-lessons-georgia-learned-about-snowstorms/2014/02/13/db1b2b5a-94cd-11e3-83b9-1f024193bb84_story.html
 Harvard Business Review, “The Elements of Good Judgment,” Sir Andrew Likierman, https://hbr.org/2020/01/the-elements-of-good-judgment
 Roberts Wesleyan College, Leading Edge Journal, 35,000 Decisions: The Great Choices of Strategic Leaders, https://go.roberts.edu/leadingedge/the-great-choices-of-strategic-leaders
 Swindoll, Charles R. Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations & Quotes. Nashville, TN, Thomas Nelson, 1998, p. 210.> Read More
“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” —Proverbs 11:3 NIV
Integrity is the foundation of all sound decisions. Your credibility, trustworthiness, and influence depend on it.
The authors of The Leadership Challenge surveyed over one hundred thousand people on what they looked for and admired most in a leader. Honesty topped the list every time. The authors observed, “It’s clear that if people anywhere are willing to follow someone—whether it’s into battle or the boardroom, in the front office or on the production floor—they first want to be sure that the individual is worthy of their trust. . . . No matter what the setting, people want to be fully confident in their leaders, and to be fully confident, they have to believe that their leaders are individuals of authentic character and solid integrity” (emphasis added).
Honest people speak the truth. They live in reality and prefer facts over fiction. Honesty is often used interchangeably with the words authenticity and integrity. Honesty is also the basis of trust. If you trust what someone does, you’ll consider the person dependable, reliable, and consistent. You’ll know what to expect and can count on them. And, honest people admit when they’ve made a mistake or were wrong.
On the other hand, people don’t want dishonest or deceitful leaders—ones who cheat, lie, or are underhanded or tricky. You never know where you stand with them or what may happen. Honesty is the best policy! Honesty will help you navigate through every circumstance, be trustworthy, and avoid compromising your integrity.
Honesty also means being honest to yourself—a great definition of integrity. With integrity, you can accomplish much. People are always watching leaders to see if they are who they say they are. A leader’s actions speak louder than their words. People need to know you are who you say you are, and you’ll do what you say you’ll do. In other words, do your audio and video match?
Consider the last time you were faced with an ethical decision at your job that you knew you could “get away with.” Did you turn a blind eye to unmistakable wrongdoing? Did you feign ignorance to avoid responsibility? Did you play out different scenarios in your head to figure out what outcome would place you in the best position? Or did you choose to do the right thing regardless of the outcome, and even regardless of personal consequences?
As a leader, you will face such decisions on a routine basis. Some companies are moral minefields. Some employees, coworkers, or bosses are ethical nightmares. To be a person of integrity, you must learn how to navigate the minefields and the nightmares without losing your sense of trust in yourself, your team, and God. You must make integrous decisions, no matter the cost.
- Do you lack integrity?
- Do you quickly acknowledge a lousy decision or mistake without being compelled to do so?
- Do you have an unwavering set of values that guide your decision-making or do circumstances dictate your choices?
- Do you make hard decisions despite the personal cost?
- Do you do what you say you’ll do?
- How will you improve your integrity?
Want to learn more? Visit http://www.prestonpoore.com
 James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, The Leadership Challenge (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2017), 76–78.> Read More
“For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.” —Jeremiah 29:11 AMP
Leaders know that decision-making always involves some level of uncertainty. You’ll never see the result of an option until it’s chosen, and the decision is converted into action. The more information, advice, and experience you have to decide, the higher your confidence level will be. You’ll be able to anticipate potential outcomes and assign probabilities.
On the other hand, incomplete, inaccurate, and unreliable information, a lack of wise counsel, and inexperience will lower your confidence level. You’ll be unable to adequately assess potential outcomes, let alone foresee likelihoods.
Your role as a leader is to reduce uncertainty. How?
- Build knowledge: Learn as much as you can about each option. What are the required information and parameters you need to decide? The Bible says, “The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out” (Proverbs 18:15 NIV). Do your best to validate the information’s completeness, accuracy, and reliability. At the same time, be at peace when you don’t know everything.
- Involve people: Seek advice from others. Listen to people who listen to God. The Bible says, “Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers” (Proverbs 24:6 NIV). Pursue different points of view, encourage debate, and listen carefully.
- Determine predictability: Based on your knowledge and advice you’ve received, rank each option according to its positive outcome likelihood; 1 is a low positive outcome probability and 10 is a high positive outcome probability. The higher the probability, the lower the uncertainty. The lower the probability, the higher the uncertainty. You want to lean toward options that have the highest likelihood of success.
- Understand and accept risk: I learned a long time ago from Dale Carnegie to ask myself, “What’s the worst that can possibly happen?” Consider what you might lose. What’s at risk? If you understand and accept what’s at risk, you’ll reduce the anxiety that comes from uncertainty.
- Remember your values: Grounding a decision in your core values and guiding principles will help you navigate uncertainty. Without values, you’ll be tossed about and be at an even more significant disadvantage when faced with doubt.
- Remain flexible: Keep all of your options open to accommodate an uncertain future. You may need to course-correct and select another option as a contingency plan.
The goal of improving decision quality is about reducing uncertainty and increasing the probability of positive results, not guaranteeing them. Let’s take this a step further.
For the believer, you can reduce uncertainty to a large extent and make the best decision possible. You may make a terrific decision and not achieve your objective. Or, you may make a lousy decision and somehow achieve your goal. Uncertainty remains. Either way, there is one thing that is for sure: God is in control. You can trust him with the outcome.
Think about some Bible heroes who made decisions and weren’t so certain about the outcomes:
- Noah decided to follow God’s direction and build an ark but wasn’t exactly sure how everything would unfold.
- Abraham faithfully followed God’s call and left his home, not knowing where he was going.
- At Jesus’ invitation, Peter courageously stepped out of the boat and walked on water, moving from certainty to uncertainty as he sank.
In all three examples, each person decided in the face of uncertainty and trusted God with the outcome.
- Rain covered the earth, but Noah and his family were rescued in the Ark.
- Abraham settled down and his descendants became a mighty nation.
- When Peter began to doubt and sink, Jesus grabbed his hand and pulled him up.
Noah, Abraham, and Peter trusted God with the outcome. You can too! Why? God promises that he is for you, not against you (Romans 8:31). He has wonderful plans for you (Jeremiah 29:11). And he works all things together for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).
When faced with uncertainty, consider asking
- How do you reduce uncertainty when deciding?
- Do you trust God with the outcomes?
- Do you believe he has a plan for your life and will help you make sound decisions?
Look to him when you’re faced with a decision and uncertain outcomes. Whether you experience a successful result or make a mistake, know that God is in control. Place your trust in him.
Do want to learn more? Visit http://www.prestonpoore.com
 Dale Carnegie, The Leader in You (Diamond Pocket Books Pvt Ltd, 2020).> Read More
“Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.” — Proverbs 4:26 NIV
Moses. The hero of Israel. Deliver of the Hebrew people. Visionary, prophet, wise leader. A man of great judgment and character. A significant historical figure. Moses’ name is found some 750 times in the Old Testament and approximately eighty times in the New Testament. The Bible even says that he was God’s friend, “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend” (Exodus 33:11 NIV). What an incredible privilege.
Moses was also very human and made some bad decisions.
In Numbers 20, the Bible tells us that the Hebrew people were still wandering in the desert before arriving in the Promised Land. They set up camp in the Desert of Zin, “a terrible place” according to the Hebrews. There was no water to quench their thirst, let alone for their livestock.
The people became angry and gathered in protest. They argued with Moses and said, “Really? You brought us all the way out here and there’s no water. Are you trying to kill us?”
So, Moses goes to God, his friend, and asks what to do.
God tells Moses to speak to a rock and water will flow from it. Easy enough.
Moses gathers the people around the rock. But he is frustrated, even angry with the people. He becomes irrational and doesn’t carefully think about potential consequences. Standing with his staff in hand, Moses cries, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” (Numbers 20:10 NIV).
The Bible tells us that Moses struck the rock twice with his staff and water immediately flowed from the rock. Did you get that?
He struck the rock. Twice.
He didn’t speak to the rock as God had directed. Moses acted out of anger and frustration and made a bad decision. The consequence?
God told Moses that he wouldn’t enter the Promised Land with the Hebrews. That’s hard news.
Moses’ frustration and anger were barriers to his ability to make a sound decision. Like Moses, you’ll face many barriers to making quality, sound, wise decisions, including:
- Emotions: In addition to frustration and anger, feelings like anxiety, depression, despair, envy, fear, jealousy, and resentment can compromise your rationality. It’s best to step away from your emotions and examine the situation. Consider what’s triggering your feelings and think about potential consequences of emotionally driven decisions. Exercise self-control. The Bible says, “Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city” (Proverbs 16:32 NLT).
- Knee-jerk reactions: Ever had your knee tapped by a rubber mallet? What happens? Your leg automatically kicks out. Similarly, automatically reacting to a problem, issue, or circumstance without thinking it through may lead to making a bad decision. When you’re hit with something, don’t react so quickly.
- Personal bias: The way you see the world and your preferences and prejudices are often a barrier to sound decision-making. You lose objectivity and lean toward your own assumptions. To overcome bias, seek facts, evidence, diverse advice, and define reality. TV journalist and author Tom Brokaw said, “Bias like beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder. Facts are your firewall against bias.”
- Analysis paralysis: Overanalyzing or overthinking can be an obstacle to sound decision-making. It will stall momentum; no decision will be made, and no course of action will be taken. Recognize that you’ll never have all of the facts and take a risk. Someone once said, “It doesn’t matter in which direction you choose to move when under a mortar attack, just as long as you move.”
- Time pressures: The amount of time you have to decide will greatly impact its quality. If you’re under the gun, how you consider and choose between options may be distorted. You’ll make mental shortcuts and not think deeply about significant decisions. You’ll lose objectivity and be more influenced by intuition. And, you won’t have the appropriate time to gather all of the necessary information. When you can, slow down to speed up.
When thinking about decision barriers, ask
- What barriers do you face when deciding?
- How do the obstacles affect you?
- What will you do to avoid or overcome the impediments you face?
Decision barriers impact your ability to make sound choices. Don’t be like Moses when he struck the rock out of frustration and anger. Exercise self-control, temper reactions, mitigate personal bias, don’t get stuck in analysis, and slow down. If you do, you’ll overcome the impediments and make sound decisions.
Want to learn more? Visit www.prestonpoore.com
1 Wayne Jackson, “A Character Portrait of Moses,” Christian Courier, last accessed July 5, 2020, https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/253-character-portrait-of-moses-a.
2 Tom Brokaw, “Lesson from a Life in Journalism,” NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, last modified October 8, 2004, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/6207274/ns/nbc_nightly_news_with_brian_williams/t/lessons-life-journalism/#.XwG8VpNKjUI.
3 Jeff Boss, “How To Overcome The ‘Analysis Paralysis’ Of Decision-Making, Forbes, last modified March 20, 2015, https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffboss/2015/03/20/how-to-overcome-the-analysis-paralysis-of-decision-making/#6b9822031be5.> Read More
“My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them, for they will refresh your soul. They are like jewels on a necklace.” —Proverbs 3:21–22 NLT
Indiana Jones is one of my all-time favorite cinematic heroes. In the climactic scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indy and the Nazi collaborators, Elsa and Walter, find themselves in a cave after an arduous journey searching for the Holy Grail. Legend has it that the cup was used by Jesus during the Last Supper. The Grail is purported to have mystical powers granting eternal youth, happiness, and abundance. Whoever finds the highly sought-after relic will possess great power, and the Nazis wanted it for evil purposes.
The old and weary Knight guarding the Grail stands in front of a broad shelf displaying several vessels, all different shapes, and sizes, many of which are ornate. Any one of them could be the Holy Grail. The Knight proclaims, “Choose wisely. The true Grail will bring you life. The false one will take it from you.”
The villains go first. With glory in her eyes, Elsa chooses a lavish chalice and hands it to Walter. He admires the chalice and says, “It certainly is the cup of the King of Kings.” Walter fills it with water, toasts to eternal life, and takes a drink. Walter looks satisfied when suddenly he starts to shake and cough. Expecting to find eternal youth, he experiences quite the opposite. In horror, his age accelerates, and he disintegrates right before their eyes. Life was taken from him.
The Knight states, “He chose poorly.”
Next, Indy surveys the vessels, discerning which one to choose. He knows history and looks for a humble cup. “The cup of a carpenter,” he says. Indy reaches to the back of the shelf, past all of the lavish chalices, and chooses a simple goblet. To test the cup, he fills it with water and takes a drink. Nothing happens.
Indy turns to the Knight and hears, “You have chosen wisely.”
Indy exercised discernment. He had good sense, a particularly keen way of seeing things that seemed hidden or obscure. But what exactly is discernment? Scottish Theologian Dr. Sinclair Ferguson sums up the attribute beautifully: “True discernment means not only distinguishing the right from the wrong; it means distinguishing the primary from the secondary, the essential from the indifferent, and the permanent from the transient. And, yes, it means distinguishing between the good and the better, and even between the better and the best. . . . It is the ability to make discriminating judgments, to distinguish between, and recognize the moral implications of, different situations and courses of action. It includes the ability to ‘weigh up’ and assess the moral and spiritual status of individuals, groups, and even movements.”
God-given discernment will help you go deep below the surface of an issue or problem to see the motives, causes, and agendas. Additionally, it will enable you to distinguish good from evil (2 Samuel 14:17) and to see through outward appearances (Proverbs 28:11). Discernment will also help you to be sensitive to potential trouble, be keenly aware of danger, and prevent unintended consequences.
Do you choose wisely? Consider these self-reflecting questions.
- How can you exercise discernment in your daily life?
- What’s blocking you from being more discerning?
- Would people say you have “good sense”?
- Why or why not?
When faced with a decision or problem, don’t be like the Nazi collaborators who lacked discernment and made the wrong choice. Be like Indiana Jones, exercise good sense, and “choose wisely.”
Do you want to learn more? Visit www.prestonpoore.com
 Sinclair Ferguson, “What Is Discernment?” Ligonier Ministries, last modified May 8, 2020, https://www.ligonier.org/blog/discernment-thinking-gods-thoughts/.> Read More
“Think over these things I am saying [understand them and grasp their application], for the Lord will grant you full insight and understanding in everything.” —2 Timothy 2:7 AMP
Nobel Prize-winning physicist Albert Einstein, one of the best thinkers who ever lived, asserted, “Thinking is hard work; that’s why so few do it.” I assert that not only do so few do it, but they also don’t know how to do it.
My dad, a college professor, and Cal Tech Applied Mathematics Ph.D. always told me that schools teach people what to think but not how to think. The challenge is that sound decision-making, exercising good judgment, and problem-solving require your ability to form an opinion or idea. If you don’t know how to think, you’ll be handicapped; you may make the wrong decision or be unable to solve a problem.
But the good news is that you can learn how to think. God created you in his image. He’s given you the capacity to reason, evaluate words, and assess the truth. I believe there are four essential thinking skills or mental processes needed to become a successful leader:
- Analytical: Using comprehensive data, you can break down the complex into the simple, detect patterns, and develop insights.
- Critical: You can carefully evaluate information, determine what’s relevant, and interpret data when making decisions.
- Creative: You can consider problems or issues in a new way and generate ideas. You can also offer a fresh perspective with unconventional solutions through brainstorming.
- Strategic: You can leverage unique insights in a changing environment. You can synthesize information, consider opportunities and threats, and imagine a future direction. This leads to a clear set of goals, plans, or new ideas required to survive or thrive in a competitive setting.
How do you develop superior thinking skills?
Take a class, volunteer for a special project, engage a subject matter expert, read books, or play games. Have a learning mindset. Stretch yourself.
Your role as a leader is to think, but it is the Lord who grants you understanding. He will give you the ability to perceive the nature and meaning of problems to be solved, issues to be handled, or decisions to be made. He’ll illuminate your thinking and shine a bright light on events. If you do the hard work of thinking and seeking God’s insight, you’ll be on the road to making sound decisions, developing good judgment, and solving problems.
How to self-evaluate your thinking skills
- Rate yourself from 1 to 10 (1 = deficient, 10 = mastery) on each of the thinking skills: analytical, critical, creative, and strategic.
- Which is the lowest?
- How will you improve your ability?
- Which is the highest?
- How will you strengthen the skill?
- How will improving or enhancing the skills benefit you?
- When will you start?
If you do the hard work of thinking and seeking God’s insight, you’ll be on the road to making sound decisions, developing good judgment, and solving problems.
Want to learn more? Visit http://www.prestonpoore.com
 John C. Maxwell, Thinking for a Change: 11 Ways Highly Successful People Approach Life and Work (Center Street, 2005).> Read More
Your mom told you it’s okay to make mistakes, but that’s not always true. Sometimes success is more dependent on making fewer mistakes, rather than doing something spectacular. Mistakes can matter, and they can matter a lot.
Did you know that the 200th best tennis player wins about 49% of the points he plays? What percentage of points does the number one player in the world win? 53% The difference between barely scraping by and being the best in the world is making 4% fewer mistakes, at least in tennis.
Career mistakes can be just as costly. There’s a big difference between losing a job and being promoted.
For your best career experience, ensure that you avoid making these 10 career mistakes:
- Failing to make your boss look good. Whether you like your boss or not, they potentially have a lot of control over your future. Making your boss look good is positive for your future. Making him look bad doesn’t improve your future prospects. Consider how your words, actions, and decisions impact your boss.
- Failing to network. It’s important to get to know the people in your company and your industry. Many jobs are never posted. They’re simply offered to people. You could be missing out on some great opportunities by keeping to yourself instead of networking. If you ever need a new job, your network can be invaluable.
- Poor wardrobe decisions. Dress for your position or the position one level above yours. Dressing like your boss is generally a good idea. If you’re underdressed, people will assume that you’re not serious.
- Failing to improve. Since you’re going to the same place each day and doing the same things over and over, it only makes sense that you’d improve over time. Do your best to become an expert at your job. Learn everything you can and do the best job you can.
- Ignoring warning signs. Is your industry being replaced by new technology? Is it clear that your boss has it out for you? Few people are fired by complete surprise. There are usually warning signs. Get out while the getting is good.
- Being unreliable. To avoid this mistake, just be reliable. Turn your assignments in on time and do what you say you’re going to do.
- Gossiping. As a general rule, it’s not smart to talk about others. Negative comments often come back to haunt you at a later time. Plus, much of what you hear around the water cooler is false anyway.
- Arriving late and leaving early. Be on time. This goes back to being reliable. Ensure that you put in the required number of hours each day. You don’t want to be known as the person that isn’t pulling their own weight.
- Staying at a job you dislike. If you dislike your job, have enough respect for yourself to look for another one. It’s hard to do something you don’t like well. It’s also hard to hide the fact that you don’t like your job. Do yourself a favor and find a company and position that you enjoy.
- Chasing money. We all work to earn money, but money isn’t the only consideration. Do you like the company, the industry, your boss, and your coworkers? How is the city? How are the benefits? There’s more to a job than just making money.
Before you try to reinvent the wheel at work, focus on being the employee that makes the fewest career mistakes. Avoiding these 10 errors will greatly aid your career and your earning power over the years.
In many instances, avoiding mistakes can be more powerful than doing something incredible!
Want to learn more? Visit my website, www.prestonpoore.com, today!
Preston> Read More
“Refuse good advice and watch your plans fail; take good counsel, and watch them succeed.” —Proverbs 15:22 MSG
I was once under the gun to hire an associate to work with our business partners. I needed to recruit, interview, and fill the open position within two weeks or I wouldn’t be able to hire anyone for that position. And an empty role meant that the work and relationship management would fall on my plate.
Steve seemed like a great candidate. However, a couple of key leaders warned me: “Don’t hire him. He’s not a good fit. If you do, it will be a mistake.” And yet, a trusted peer highly recommended Steve: “He has the right experience and transferable skills. With a little coaching, he’ll be great.”
I moved swiftly and selfishly to hire Steve.
Fast-forward one year.
While Steve was hired into a harsh work environment and we believed he could break through, he never gained traction with his assigned business partners or market. The business partners demanded more than Steve could deliver. When Steve stumbled, I had to compensate.
Even though I had ten other team members and was accountable for eighteen markets, I spent 80 percent of my time with Steve and his specific territory. I didn’t want Steve to fail. I saw his success as my responsibility since I’d decided against others’ counsel. I wanted to prove that I could help Steve reach his potential.
Over time, his key stakeholders rejected him because of a perceived lack of credibility. Steve was no longer invited to meetings or trade rides and lost his ability to influence or add value. I shared the business partners’ feedback with Steve along the way. Trying to support him, I continually spent time helping him solve problems and discuss his concerns. I always encouraged him. And I was genuine with him. We built a plan to improve his performance and connection with the business partner. But Steve didn’t follow through. He’d lost heart.
I realized that I couldn’t develop Steve as I’d thought. His skillset and motivational fit weren’t right for the role. I also realized I’d made a mistake. I’d listened to advice that validated my predetermined choice and immediately discounted differing opinions.
Why? Because I saw potential, or so I told myself. I’d heard what I’d wanted to hear and ignored the ultimately correct guidance provided by others. Acting out of arrogance, I believed that I could single-handedly develop Steve’s analytical, relationship-building, and leadership skills—and that proved not to be the case.
A change needed to happen for Steve’s benefit, for my team, for our business partners, for the company—and for me. Ultimately, Steve was placed on a performance improvement plan and eventually exited from the organization.
Looking back, here’s what I learned about advice:
Seek many opinions
This Latin phrase is right: vident oculi quam oculus—many eyes see more than one. When you face a difficult decision, consult multiple advisors. Seek the opinions of those with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and thinking styles.
These counselors should have integrity and trustworthiness. They should listen well, think deeply, possess an optimistic outlook, be strategic, and be grounded in reality. When you receive advice, ask: Is this advice honest, actionable, and timely?
John C. Maxwell says, “If you combine the thoughts you have and the thoughts that others have, you will come up with thoughts you’ve never had!”[i]
Be an unselective listener
Even though I sought wise counsel from others, I selectively listened to what they said. I sought validation, not guidance. I pieced together what I wanted to hear and rationalized my decision.
Admittedly, I had my own agenda, I was stubborn, and I acted out of arrogance. The Bible says, “Fools are headstrong and do what they like; wise people take advice” (Proverbs 12:15 MSG). If I’d listened early on, Steve and I wouldn’t have suffered through tough circumstances. When seeking counsel, objectively listen to others and don’t filter your thoughts with predetermined bias.
I didn’t pray about my decision to hire Steve and moved without consulting God. It became a mess. But I did pray amid the mess and God was faithful.
For believers, we need to lift everything in prayer, and it should become a lifestyle for us. The Bible says, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thes. 5:17 ESV). Take every moment and opportunity to pray. Pursue God’s divine understanding, discernment, and wisdom. Make it a continual conversation with God and a way of life. If you do, God will guide you, your decisions, and your circumstances.
- Do you have trusted, integrous advisers who will provide diverse points of view?
- When you pursue their counsel, are you looking for guidance or validation?
- Are you willing to listen and suspend judgment?
- Will you pray about the advice you receive and the decision you will make?
[i] John C. Maxwell, Thinking for a Change: 11 Ways Highly Successful People Approach Life and Work (Center Street, 2005).> Read More
“Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets, and this is what you get.” – Matthew 7:12 – The Message
Sound decisions are anchored in core values, the deeply held beliefs or ideals that guide your thoughts and actions. When you make decisions congruent with your values, you feel satisfied; if incongruent with your values, you experience inner stress and conflict. If you know your values, you can make decisions on many fronts like how to live your life, where to work, whom to marry, and whether or not to compromise on an issue or make a change.
Do you know your values and how they affect your decisions? Think about it.
Do you know what you stand for? What you’d be willing to fight or even die for?
Let’s take a few minutes to define or confirm your personal values.
#1 Peaks: Identify peak or high point experiences in your life where you were happiest, most satisfied, or fulfilled. What were the circumstances? Who was with you? What values were you exercising at the time?
#2 Valleys: Identify valleys or low points in your life where you experienced inner stress or conflict. What were the circumstances? Who was with you? What values were you not exercising at the time?
#3 Selection: Understanding the peaks and low points, select your top ten values from the list below, adapted and excerpted with permission from MindTools:
#4 Prioritize: When choosing among options, you’ll be able to know what values are most important to you.
#5 Narrow: Whittle down your list. What are your top three or five values? Imagine someone in an elevator asked you what your values are. Could you rattle them off in thirty seconds? Knowing, understanding, and being able to articulate your values is invaluable as a leader.
#6 Develop: Give your values a richer context. Describe what the value looks like in action. This will help you turn the values into guiding principles.
#7 Examine: Are you living your core values and making decisions that are congruent with them? Rate each selected value from 1 to 10, where 10 is the value fully demonstrated in your decision-making process. Where are your lowest scores? What score would you like to achieve in the future? What action steps will you take to close the gap and elevate the score?
#8 Share: Disclose your values with a trusted confidant and ask if they see your prioritized values demonstrated in your life and decision-making. Why, or why aren’t, they demonstrated? How will you adjust based on their feedback?
My top five values are love, integrity, trust, leadership, and excellence. When I’ve assumed new leadership positions, one of the first things I do is share my values and guiding principles, i.e., how my values look in action. I want to let people know where I stand, what I believe in, and what to expect from me. If my actions deviate from the list, I encourage the team to call me out.
My guiding principles are:
- Integrity – Walk the talk with transparency
- Trust – Confident expectation
- Leadership – Positively inspire and influence
- Excellence – Pursue distinction
- Humor – The shortest distance between two people
- Vision – Anticipate the future and go there
- Results – Measure progress toward goals
- Discipline – Bring order to chaos
- Development – Nurture and grow skills, abilities
- Collaborate – Develop cooperative solutions
- Celebrate – Publicly acknowledge successes
- Passion – Possess a burning desire to win
In sharing my values and guiding principles, people understand where I’m coming from, my decision-making motives, and actions. I modeled my approach after Jesus’. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 6:1 to 7:27), Jesus shared his core values and guiding principles with the listeners. He established what he stood for. To make his values and guiding principles easy to understand, he summarized them with this eternal truth: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12). If you value Jesus’s words, your values and guiding principles will reflect them. And you’ll make sound decisions that honor God and benefit you and others.
- Do you know your core values and guiding principles?
- What role do they play in your decision-making process?
- If you told someone your values, would they agree?
- Do they honor God?
Do you want to learn more? Visit my website, www.prestonpoore.com, today!
They say that the more mistakes you make, the more successful you become. That might be true, but you must deal with your bad decisions effectively before you can move forward. There’s a process to making the most of your wrong choices.
If you can benefit from your right decisions and your wrong decisions, life is easy! Unfortunately, our natural instincts make it challenging to benefit from wrong choices. We become upset, distract ourselves, withdraw, feel embarrassed, or give up altogether.
When you can benefit from wrong decisions, there are no wrong decisions!
Consider these strategies:
- Learn the lesson. Every wrong decision has a lesson to teach. It can be painful to examine your wrong choices. Do you know what’s even more painful? Making the same mistake again. Take a little time to figure out what you can learn from your unwise decision.
- Move on. There’s nothing to be gained by dwelling on your mistakes. A wrong decision that you’ve never made before isn’t a bad thing. It’s just life.
- Take responsibility. You were part of the problem. There’s no getting around it. Taking responsibility allows you to retain control of the situation. You made the mess, so you can fix it.
- Talk it out. If you can’t let go of your mistake, spend some time talking with a loyal friend. An outsider often has a more reasonable perspective. Pick up the phone and give someone a call.
- Stay present. It’s easy to let your mind run wild after making a wrong choice. There’s nothing to see there. It’s hard to stay in the present moment when things are going wrong all around you. Allowing your mind to wander is just a form of distraction. Pay attention to what is happening right now.
- Take preventative measures in the future. How can you prevent a similar occurrence in the future? Did you put yourself into a situation where no good option existed? Or did you merely make the wrong call?
- Remember what you still have. You may have lost your business or partner, but that doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Take a moment to remind yourself of the wonderful things you still have.
- Forgive yourself. Everyone makes more than a few mistakes. Accept the consequences of your choice and move forward. It’s impossible to always make perfect decisions.
- Remember that your next right decision will feel that much better. A vacation only feels good because you contrast it with work. Spend six months in a Florida condo and see how excited you still are. Your bad decisions make your right decisions that much more enjoyable.
- You are not your decisions. You are separate from the choices you make. Bad choices don’t make you bad any more than good decisions make you good. Your decisions don’t define you.
Bad decisions aren’t all that bad after all. In fact, you can benefit from all your previous bad choices right now. Make a list of every wrong decision you’ve ever made. Now, go through the process of learning from each of them. What are the lessons you can learn? Imagine if you had done this same process after each mistake was made. Your life would be very different.
Everyone makes bad decisions. The key is to make the most of them. Spend a few minutes each week reviewing your bad choices and learn from them. Most importantly, avoid repeating them. Move on from your bad decisions and benefit from them.
*** Stop wasting time in the aftermath of bad choices when you can make decisions that deliver extraordinary results. Get the “Nine Point Sound-Decision Making Check List” sent straight to your inbox and start seeing exceptional results today. Visit: https://prestonpoore.com
Thanks and take care,
Preston Poore> Read More
I’m a disciple of Christ and an executive at a Fortune 500 Company. In my blog, The Discipled Leader, I draw on my diverse business experience to help Christians connect their secular and spiritual lives at work.
As a certified coach, speaker, and trainer with the John Maxwell Team, I help others grow their relationship with Christ, develop their leadership skills, and understand how they can make a positive difference in today’s chaotic world.
Let me help you reach your potential.
I draw on my diverse business experience to help Christians connect their secular and spiritual lives at work. I invite you to subscribe to my blog and learn how to develop Christlike character, influence your culture and change your world.