I was 29, engaged to be married, and operating a successful eight figure company I founded just five years before. At the time, I was avoiding a difficult decision and instead kept trying to leapfrog into difficult conversations surrounding the decision. This didn’t work.

The problem is, a difficult conversation shouldn’t come before a difficult decision. If we can successfully come to a decisive decision first, then the conversation becomes much easier. The challenge is that we tend to play out imaginary conversations in our heads and the emotions that surround it. This causes the decisions that need to be made to get blurry, mostly because there wasn’t a firm decision to start with.

At 29 I had little idea of how to be a good boyfriend let alone a husband. I had somehow taught myself to be a successful entrepreneur and a half decent leader but because I wasn’t prepared to make difficult decisions in my personal life, I was not having success with personal relationships. I just swept things under the rug and avoided decisions that needed to be made.

Difficult decisions take guts, often a willingness to suspend your own needs, and a realization that the pain is often far greater in the thought than the action.

I now look back on when I was younger and see that empathy and responsibility were these nebulous concepts. They didn’t fit with my world view, nor my need to feel secure. It’s very hard to make meaningful decisions when you are worried only about yourself.

Make decisions, be decisive, use data if you need to, but then stick with the decision. Then you are ready to have the difficult conversations.

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