this way, that way

 When we fail to decide, we decide to fail. tweet

Amazon ImageHave you ever been paralyzed by the need to make a decision?  You know, the kind of situation where, presented with good options all around, you still cannot come to a decision?

Deciding when the choices are only two and one of those is a bad choice isn’t really hard at all.

But what about when you are presented with two or more very good options?  How do you decide then?

For most of us, the decision making process will involve seeking to look at the choices from multiple angles.  We’ll gather information, consider the options, weigh out the pros and cons, and then make a decision.

But for others, making a decision is not just difficult; it is virtually impossible.  The reason?  They are paralyzed by the a need for perfection.  

The problem with waiting for the “perfect” choice, or the “perfect” option, is that in most instances it doesn’t exist.  There are certainly perfect items that exist in the world.  Rare gems can have a perfect quality.  High end electronics need “perfect” quality so as to function properly countless times.

When Perfect Isn’t Good Enough: Strategies for Coping with Perfectionism

But when it comes to most choices, when there is not obvious bad choice, waiting for the perfect option doesn’t result in better decisions. No, it results only in delay, doubt and, potentially, distrust.


Amazon ImageOne problem of paralyzed decision making is that in many or even most situations our decisions affect others.

It could be a work project, or a family activity or school project, but if others are dependent on our choices and we don’t decide because we need to  have voluminous amounts of information (the “perfect data set”), we are causing people problems by our delay.

A delay in a decision can have negative consequences in landing a new client.  Or it can cause a great opportunity to missed for your family.  Or it can cause a  school assignment group to miss a deadline and thus get a worse grade (than they might otherwise have).


Another problem of paralyzed decision making is doubt.

This can be doubt in your own abilities, which is bad enough in itself.  However, it can also be doubt by others on your abilities.  If you are a leader at any level in any organization (company, non-profit, school, family) and if you are constantly paralyzed by the need to make the perfect decision, doubts about your leadership abilities will develop in those you are seeking to influence.

The consequences of doubt in yourself or your abilities can derail any career.


If decision making is paralyzed long enough by the need for a perfect choice, the eventual outcome will be distrust.

When distrust develops in a group, the productivity of that group will be impacted.  If distrust is in the leader of the group, it won’t be simply productivity that will result, attrition will become a problem.

Overcoming Perfectionism: The Key to a Balanced Recovery

No team or work group in any type of organization can survive long when distrust takes root.


The Antidote to Paralysis By Perfectionism

The answer to paralysis by perfectionism is not to attain perfection in decision making.

The answer is to actually make a decision.  To act.  To do.

We don’t succeed in any aspect of life if we give in to paralysis by perfectionism.

This Nike ad about Michael Jordan says every thing I am trying to say about overcoming this paralysis.


“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life…and that is why I succeed.”
– Michael Jordan tweet

You see, it is through the act of doing, of actually making a decision , even if we fail or if it is not the best decision, that leads to our development of confidence in ourselves.

When we fail to decide, we decide to fail.

What about you?  Have you been paralyzed in decision making because you want to make the perfect choice?