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Decision and Failure: Deciding That Failure is Not an Option

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Nobody likes wasting time, money or opportunities by making a bad business decision. We can certainly identify what “bad” looks and feels like, however we should be identifying what the “win” looks like too. Too often we focus on the bad, which puts us in victim mode that perpetuates a scarcity mindset which leads us directly into becoming frozen or stuck.

When we are forced with a decision, we should just make the choice and not fret about what may come next. Not all decisions are bad and conversely, not all are good. Sometimes we even make good choices that end up bad or bad choices that end up good. Failure presents itself in two primary ways, through our mistakes, and in our fears. 

Make the Mistake…Fail

Learning from our mistakes can be tough yet the most successful entrepreneurs will also tell you to FAIL fast and FAIL regularly! What? Coming to understand why anyone would want to fail and be happy about failing is quite liberating. The truth is, we learn so much from our failures that we literally need failure in order to learn those lessons required to become more successful.

Sounds crazy but the truth is…. It is the truth. The word FAIL can be described as Full Accountability In Learning. When we take full accountability for where we are at, the circumstance, the situation, the event, whatever it is, we can either achieve the results desired, or we can learn from it.

When the mistake ends in learning, we should celebrate it (I think of the Disney movie, Meet The Robinson’s here – side note, it belongs on the top 10 list of movies for entrepreneurs to see). Learning requires us to make changes. Change is good. Change is necessary. Change is growth.

“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end.” – Denis Waitley

The Only Thing We Fear…Fear Itself

The second aspect of failure comes in the face of fear towards failure. When you find yourself frustrated from your last perceived failure that you are nervous about making your next decision too quickly, that is fear. When you find yourself caught up in the “paralysis by analysis” cycle and either have a difficult time making decisions or procrastinating on a decision, that is fear.

The crazy part…as hard as we try to weigh all our options to make the best possible decision, it is NOT possible to fathom all the options! Let that sit for a moment because it is almost counter cultural to think that way, yet when we do, our minds open up into a world full of possibilities. Faith returns, hope endures, procrastination crumbles.

Faith and Decision Making

The reason is that until we take that next step of faith, we have no idea of the resources, relationships, and opportunities that can and will surface from that single decision. You see, it’s literally not possible to have ALL of the information. Certainly, we need to make the best decision with the information we have at the time yet, still have faith to know and understand there will be information we do not have readily available, and it is okay.

There is a part of taking action that requires faith and persistence in continuing to move forward and pivot as we go. This is not the same as “just winging it.” Faith is fully allowing it to happen as it is designed to. Some high-level businesspeople refer to this as having no regrets on the actions taken.

Once you decide on a course of action, take steps which support that decision based on all the tools in your personal toolbox… at the time. As you continue to add new tools to your toolbox you will make stronger decisions. This is where persistence becomes crucial.

“If you learn from defeat, you haven’t really lost.” – Zig Ziglar

The Choice is Yours

It’s clear that understanding these aspects of decision making and the way you approach the process of making decisions along with how you proceed during and after a failed decision sets the tone for learning how to make better decisions that results in stronger successes. Be persistence in acting in faith and do not be afraid to fail. Having faith over fear will be key in mastering the failures made from your decisions.

International Educator, Speaker, Author, and Business Coach, Lori helps entrepreneurs and organizations focus on the foundational tools needed for sustained success. As a Curriculum Designer and Business Professor, Lori has helped grow hundreds of organizations organically (including her own company that includes Legacy Builders, Media Secrets, and Driven Mastery -- brands that help Entrepreneurs build a true, long-lasting purpose). Lori has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, & various regional markets. She has authored / co-authored several books and works globally to support literacy, cancer research, young entrepreneurship, and military programs. Helping raise over three million dollars for literacy, Lori was awarded the Lifetime Presidential Service Award for her work. Most recently, Lori was selected as one of the official speakers for the Think & Grow Rich World Tour speaking globally over the next two years. For more info visit www.lorimcneil.com.

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What Les Misérables Taught Me About Our Values

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Who am I? The ultimate question many of us try to answer. When I think of values, I think of Victor Hugo’s 1862 book, “Les’ Miserables”. In Hugo’s book, Jean Valjean, is used as a protagonist to highlight the power in redemptive love and compassion. Valjean goes into prison for stealing a loaf of bread, entering as a simple and decent man. His time in jail seems to have an unrepairable effect, where he emerges from the chain gang as a tough, bitter criminal who hates society for what it has done to him. (more…)

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7 Ways You Can Increase Your Concentration Right Away

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In today’s world, an overabundance of information and a large number of distractions is making it increasingly difficult to concentrate on performing the necessary tasks. In this article, I propose 7 simple methods that will train your ability to concentrate, while not taking you from your usual activities. (more…)

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5 Simple Hacks to Help You Develop the Habit That Will Transform Your Life

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It’s excruciating when we know what’s killing us but we can’t do anything about it because as you know, it is not easy to pull the brake on a high way. According to Napoleon Hill, “remember this always – the best (and one might say the only) way in which old habits may be removed is to form new habits to counteract and replace the undesirable ones”. (more…)

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Why Do We Have An Unconscious Bias and How Can We Manage It?

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When I hear someone using my name once in a while throughout the conversation we are having, I cannot stop myself thinking “this person must have read Dale Carnegie’s books or must have been influenced by someone who read them…” Have you just recalled a similar moment and it felt nice?

As Dale Carnegie famously said, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and the most important sound in any language”. Why did Dale Carnegie highlight the importance of an individual’s name to that person in his “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book published in 1936?

Each and every one of us wants to feel special and unique. I guess he recommends using the person’s name in the conversation because that is one of the easiest ways to grab that person’s attention so that we can enhance the chances of getting our point across. However, I am more interested in this from the other side; hearing our names directly addresses our individuality, our need or desire to feel special and unique.  

Let’s park this one for now and we will come back. 

Categorization is essential to our survival

There is countless scientific research telling us about how our brains recognize similarities and put things into categories, which has been crucial to our survival in evolution and still helps us with a lot of things from learning new things to coping with the continuous influx of massive amounts of information through our senses. 

The continuous influx of information is mostly handled by our subconscious mind rather than conscious. It is estimated that our brains receive about 11 million bits of information every second through our senses, of which only 40-50 bits can be processed by our conscious mind. We process more information than we are aware of. The magic here is the subconscious mind.

An example is when you are at a very loud party where you hear a lot of words flying around without you recognizing each one of them, then suddenly, you immediately catch it when you hear your name. Your subconscious had been processing all of those words, without your awareness, but informed your conscious mind when your name was out there because it was relevant to you.

In order to most effectively process this much information and inform the conscious mind with only the relevant ones, our subconscious employs categorization as one of its strategies.

When our ancestors encountered some deadly predators in the African savanna, their subconscious prompted their conscious mind to immediately fight or flight by categorizing the information gathered through their senses into “predator / life threat / take action”. Most probably we are not descendants of the ones that were frozen rather than fighting or flighting! 

Although it is a completely different situation, the same strategy applied in remembering lists. Let’s look at the below two lists.

  1. lion, eagle, shark, leopard, hawk, whale, panther, falcon and dolphin 
  2. lion, leopard, panther, eagle, hawk, falcon, shark, whale and dolphin

The second list is easy to remember because it is reordered into relevant groups even though the content of the both lists are identical.

Subconsciousness is the magic and categorization is one of its key strategies. It is essential to our survival, learning new skills and processing information as well as bringing back the information we had processed and stored. 

This amazing skill has its drawbacks

As a result of our brains’ categorization strategy, we also categorize people, especially if we don’t know them as well as our closest ones.

Imagine I am sitting at the table next to yours while you are having your favorite coffee and working on your computer or reading your novel at your neighborhood coffee shop. I stand up, very calmly grab your bag, and start walking away. Your reaction might be quite different depending on my outfit. It could be much more vocal and harsh if I have a dirty T-Shirt and a pair of torn jeans on. However, if I have some navy colored, 3-piece suit and well-pressed white button up shirt on, you might even say something like “Excuse me, you might have picked up my bag by mistake”. (There is an experiment done by social psychologists which reported similar results)

Similarly, I would not be surprised to hear that my co-worker’s spouse is very skilled and knowledgeable in English grammar and literature because he is an English teacher. However, I would not expect it from my co-worker herself because she is an outstanding chemical engineer.  

This is defined as unconscious bias or stereotyping, as a result of our subconscious brain’s categorization strategy. The outfit I have at the coffee shop impacts your response to my action, because it puts me into a different category in your mind depending on my outfit. My co-worker’s and her spouse’s backgrounds make me put them into different categories, which might mislead me sometimes.

Just like we categorize things, it is very natural that we categorize people.  

The key question here for me is; how do we truly treat people as individuals so that they feel unique, just like as they would want, while we know that our brains categorize people

We can overcome unconscious bias 

Leonard Mlodinow, in his enlightening book “Subliminal”, suggests that “if we are aware of our bias and motivated to overcome it, we can.” That doesn’t mean that we need to fight our brain’s categorization strategy. We just need to employ our conscious mind more when we are working or dealing with individuals. 

Our unconscious bias might tell us scientists are bunch of technical nerds who cannot understand abstract concepts that marketers are talking about or it might say that marketers are some daydreamers who need to be grounded by scientists to the real world all the time. I am an engineer and I love thinking in abstract terms and I worked with quite a lot of marketers who thought primarily in factual and concrete terms. 

Spending some effort to learn more about individuals will help overcome unconscious bias. Gathering more information and qualities about them will make it easier for us to treat them as individuals rather than a member of the category we put them in our minds. 

The moral of the story here is to recognize the fact that our brains do categorize, and it is essential; but also, to recognize that every individual wants to feel unique. When we appreciate these two and keep reminding them to ourselves, we are one step closer to figuring out our own way to overcome unconscious bias and treat people more like individuals. 

What was the most interesting part of this article for you? Share your thoughts below!

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