I feel icky. At least I did when I realized I had to make a decision the other day. It wasn’t my first choice. But, I knew it was the right choice. Still, the decision made me feel… well, icky. Ever been faced with a decision that made you feel icky?
First Reaction? Time Out!
Ickiness was not my first reaction to the idea. It was anger. My gut told me – No Way! I’ve learned that when I have such a strong negative response to an idea to give myself a figurative time out. In other words, I refrain from responding until I have calmed down. In this case, I waited 24 hours. In that time something remarkable happened.
The next day when I awoke, the feeling of anger was gone. And, in its place was a feeling of ickiness. Having given myself time to think about the proposal, I had come to the conclusion that it was likely the best course of action. It was not the course of action that I would take, but it was a course of action that would accomplish the goal and appease the majority of stakeholders. So, the decision was made, but I felt icky.
Decision Making and Problem Solving
Decision making is an integral part of problem solving. In the nine-step problem solving method I describe in Teamwork 9.0 and summarize in a blog here, the first part of the process is the decision making seven steps by which you decide the approach to solve the problem.
In step 3, you and your team generate ideas. Step 4 is your emotional reaction to those ideas. In this case, my first step-4 reaction to the proposed idea was anger. Step 5 is when you think about the ideas, not with emotions or feelings but with logic. As I moved into step 5, my feeling of anger dissipated and was replaced with a feeling of ickiness as I concluded that the idea made sense logically.
Once I had come to that logical conclusion, it was easier for me to overcome my feelings of ickiness and go along with the proposed approach. While the decision-making process can be treated discreetly, it is instructive to consider the tight link between problem solving and decision making.
Time Heals All Ickiness
Here’s the good news. While I felt icky after making the decision, by the next day the icky feeling was very faint, and by the day after that the feeling was like a distant memory. The approach that the team proposed worked and solved the problem. The team maintained its coherence and enthusiasm during implementation. I am happy with the outcome and can now move on to new projects. I am reminded of the phrase, “this too shall pass.” Indeed, the icky feeling did pass.
What decisions are you facing that make you feel icky? For you, which dominates your decision making—gut reactions, feelings or logic? Do you consider the passage of time when you make a decision? When your logical head tries to reason with your gut and heart, which wins? Is it more important for you to avoid feeling icky or to make the best decision?
Matt Schlegel says
I listened to an interview of Dr. Leane Wen who described the role that Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx play in communicating critical information about the pandemic. They have to balance the needs of their stakeholders, specifically the needs of the president and the health needs of the American public when crafting their messages. Dr. Wen stressed the importance of “subsuming ego” for the sake of the greater good, protecting public health. I found her insights fascinating and a lesson in leadership communications.