Decisiveness is defined by Webster’s as “having the power or quality of deciding” and by Character First as “the ability to recognize key factors and finalize difficult decisions.” Decisiveness is “The ability to make good decisions in a timely manner.”
Decisiveness is important! We’ve all heard that decisions lead ultimately to our legacy – There is a popular poster that pictures Rosa Parks on a bus with a caption,
“The choices you make in life ultimately determine your destiny.”
Our choices and decisions, both spur-of-the-moment and well-thought-out, create defining moments in our lives that set a course and shape them toward our destiny, our legacy.
But Decisiveness is not easy! We individually have to DECIDE to make right decisions. The opposite of Decisiveness is Procrastination.
Theodore Roosevelt said, “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” There are truly times when a decision can and should wait, but many times, we simply have to decide not to put it off – we have to decide to be decisive.
We all have to make decisions every day – no one can make them for us.
In opposition to procrastination, we have to decide to be decisive. I was once asked about my “decision-making process” and realized that not only did I not have any idea what my process was, but many people have never thought about their decision making process. A good process could start with the Rotary 4-Way Test:
- Is it the TRUTH? (Am I considering facts or hearsay and opinion?)
- Is it FAIR to all concerned? (Or is it fair mostly to me and those I choose?)
- Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
- Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
Another important factor in decisiveness is our value system. Roy Disney, Walt Disney’s elder brother who handled most of the financial responsibilities for the Disney Companies, once said, “It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” Whether we call them family values, core values, or simply beliefs, they make decision-making much easier by providing a foundation of principles that we refuse to violate under any circumstances. Our values and beliefs significantly reduce our options (in a good way) when we are making decisions.
We all have defining moments in our lives that we vividly remember and help to shape us. One stands out for me. When I was between my sophomore and junior years in high school, I had to make a difficult decision whether to continue to play baseball or try to qualify for the golf team…I chose golf. In my first year on the golf team, I competed against a young man named Lawrence Field who was one of the state’s best high school golfers and would go on to win the first National PGA Jr. Championship and have a successful college career at the University of Texas.
I was playing with Lawrence in a tournament in Lawton, OK. I arrived at the 18th green, the 36th hole of a long day, very frustrated with my score. After a disappointing finish, I allowed my frustration to get the best of me, and I angrily threw my golf ball as far as I could, in view of many of my fellow competitors. Though that may not sound like a particularly rebellious action by today’s standards, it did not meet the standard for golf, which, as you may have heard, “is a gentleman’s game.” After signing our scorecards, Lawrence confronted me about my actions. I was very embarrassed and decided to never again have such an outburst of emotion on the golf course. I learned a lesson in sportsmanship from that day that I will never forget.
Make a decision to make right decisions and be a person of integrity – sometimes we have to decide to decide in a timely manner based on truth and to the benefit of all.