How are you at making decisions?
Years ago, a city family bought an American cattle ranch and moved to the wide-open country. After a month, friends visited the family in their ranch house. “What did you decide to name your ranch?” they inquired.
“Well,” the husband replied, “I wanted to call it the Flying W and my wife wanted to name it the Suzy Q, but one of our sons liked the Bar J and the other preferred the Lazy Y. So we compromised and call it the Flying W/Suzy Q/Bar J/Lazy Y.”
“I see,” said the visitor. “And where are your cattle?”
“None of them survived the branding,” said the rancher.
Frightening things happen when we can’t make a decision. And I don’t always make good decisions myself. That’s especially true when I act on impulse. I will snatch something off the shelf of a store that I really don’t want. Or I don’t take the time to research an item I need before purchasing one I just happen to like. I will eat something from the fridge when I’m more bored than hungry and regret the calories later. You get what I mean. I don’t always use my head. I can be like a “$40 million dollar airport with a $20 control tower,” as they say.
Impulsive behavior aside, sometimes even thoughtful decision-making is still not easy. No clear choice is evident. We may want black and white but see only fifty shades of gray and no option looks all that good. “I’ve made up my mind, but I made it up both ways,” baseball great Casey Stengel famously quipped.
What do you do when you’re decidedly undecided? Or when you’re struggling with a decision and you’ve made your mind up both ways?
When I’m stuck, I sometimes step back and take the Rocking Chair Test. It can get me through the impasse to a point where I’m making better decisions. This is how it works.
Imagine yourself near the end of your life. You are relaxing in a rocking chair reflecting on the decision you presently want to make. As the older, wiser you thinks about the outcome of your choice, ask yourself three simple questions.
1. Did it cause harm?
2. Did it bring about good?
3. How did it shape the person I became?
The Rocking Chair Test helps you to take a long view of your options. After imagining your answers to those questions, you should know better which way to go.
Try asking yourself those three questions. You may be amazed at how quickly you make better decisions.
And the cattle will appreciate your decisiveness.