Remember my article about tough decision published in September 2012? It was a case I and the other managers had to solve. Here is the answer you have been waiting for.
You were trapped in a remote place; it could be a jungle, an island or a desert. Location matters not. Reasons why you were there matter not. The fact was, you led 19 other people to that place. There was no reasonable means to escape. Rescuers would come and save you, but you could do nothing but was waiting to be rescued.
During the last possible communication with the rescue team, you got another fact: They would arrive in 2 weeks. Those 19 people did not know that fact yet. The rescue team talked to you only. And, again, there was no more possibility to communicate with them.
After some analysis, you found that the available food and water were very limited. You would not find additional food nor water sources. One person might survive in 2 weeks if you gave all food and water to him or her. If you chose to share food and water for 19 people evenly, everyone–including you–would definitely die.
Do not try to find any logical fallacy in this situation. If it helps, you can try to simulate it using Battle Royale‘s plot.
Imagine that some of those 19 people you led were your family. They could be your dad, your mom, your spouse, your boyfriend or girlfriend, your children, etc.
What would your decision be?
I, as well as other managers, came up with different answers. Yours might be different, too.
Here is the true answer:
There is no right or wrong decision. There is only decision, and its consequences.
I need to remind you that ‘manager’ is a title that some people own professionally. ‘Leader,’ however, is a privilege bestowed upon everyone. Yes, including you.
Leadership is all about responsibilities. Whatever you decide, however small that is, has its consequences. It always affects you directly, and affects everyone around you directly or indirectly.
If, let’s say, you decide to leave your home after a big fight with your dad, is it a right or wrong decision? Neither. The consequences of your departure affects you and your dad directly. But, have you ever thought of your mom? Your siblings? Your friends?
Allow me to spoil one episode of Breaking Bad (you might want to skip this paragraph). The main protagonist, Walter White, was a chemistry teacher turning into a drug dealer after he had been diagnosed with lung cancer. One night he went to his partner’s apartment and found his partner’s girlfriend was suffering from OD. He did not try to save the girl because she had blackmailed him a couple of days before. The OD girl died, leaving her dad drowned in terrible grief. The dad showed up at work (in air traffic control) and could not concentrate that he made a fatal mistake, causing 2 airplanes crashed, with 160 death toll and debris falling onto one urban neighborhood. Residents in the neighborhood were all traumatized by the accident for weeks.
Wise Actions, Not Emotional Reactions
Since we need to label most concepts to completely understand them, let’s not call any decision right nor wrong. Instead, let’s call them wise or unwise.
Wise decisions are thought thoroughly. Great problem solving skills are required here, and I will share them with you some other time.
Wise decisions are the ones you take after you put your own situation and other people’s situations into consideration. You can also use your values as guidance. It could be religion, or moral codes taught by your parents, or simply–if you do not believe in God–your guts. I believe that, despite being born with no life guide tied around our feet, we are naturally designed to be able to think and to choose between right and wrong.
The most unwise decisions are the ones you take as results of your emotional reactions. Emotions are part of our basic survival system, but we do not live in caves anymore. More often than not, our emotional reactions lead us to unwise decisions.
Unfortunately, it is easier said than done. 😐
No Turning Back
Making tough decisions is never easy. Here is one trick to make it easier to deal with: Forgive the past.
After you find out that your decision affects everyone around you, emotions that most likely occurs afterwards are guilt and regret. Do not let these emotions control you. Remember, there is no right or wrong decision. Buck up, take the responsibility, and move on.
But, that is my own view on dealing with tough decisions. What is yours? 😀