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When All Is Said and Done

By Orrin Woodward

I once read the following quote:

“And remember, when all is said and done, much more is said than is ever done.”

I believe strongly in discussion and gathering all the facts. But all the facts in the world will not amount to anything until someone makes a decision and follows through.

Think back to organizations you have been a part of that discuss great ideas and never seem to implement them. It has been said that there are enough great ideas in Washington to solve many of our countries pressing problems.

What our world needs more than great ideas are great implementers of these ideas. Why is there so much talk and so few actions? I have come up with at least three possible reasons.

1. Analysis Paralysis

First, many people fall into analysis paralysis. With so many options to choose from it is difficult to decide. To decide means to close off all other options but the one chosen.

This can mean that others will be upset because you did not choose what they wanted. It can cause fear that maybe the wrong option was chosen.

Analysis paralysis is caused by looking at too many options without a sufficient way of breaking down options into the most logical choice.

It has been said that the number one tool for a lion trainer is the stool and not the whip. When the lion begins to act up the trainer sticks the stool in the lion’s face. The lion cannot focus on one attack point because the four legs of stool are all options.

This caused analysis paralysis in the lion and he becomes docile from indecision.

If you are going to be a leader you must determine options and then decide on a path and move. The worst decision is the one you do not make. If you decide wrong you still get feedback which will help you decide better next time.

Most decisions are not fatal and every decision increases your ability to decide the next time.

2. Few People Want to be Responsible

Second, few people want to be held responsible for implementing any change. They know if they push for any change and it goes wrong, the crowd of Monday morning quarterbacks will state why they knew this was a bad move.

People can become so jaded by the criticisms of others that they will become fearful to make the tough decisions. Leaders have to have courage to make the tough decisions.

Do not let the criticisms of the non-achievers allow you to become a non-achiever through fear of failure.

I don’t know any great leaders who have not failed a few times and had to listen to the critics. In fact this is one of the major factors credited for leaders in general. If you do not have the guts to make the tough decisions then call yourself anything you want, but you are not a leader.

Harry Truman on his way to Potsdam at the end of the European portion of World War II said,

“I did not come here just to discuss, I came here to decide.”

Harry constantly talked about the ability to decide is what separates the leader from the follower.

I can remember an incident in my own life as an engineer. We had a machine that ran only 87 percent quality first time through. This is terrible and we were throwing away over three dollars every failed part.

I spent over three months developing new tooling to hold the assemblies in place. Everyone told me not to mess with this machine because if it did not work, we would shut down car lines that needed this part.

I weighed the potential upside and downsides involved and felt a million-dollar-plus scrap issue was worth taking a calculated risk.

The first night the new tooling was in place we had designed a new pin that failed to center the part properly.

This led to a near 40 percent scrap rate the first day. I had the supervisor, general supervisor, superintendent and plant manager in the building yelling and criticizing the new tooling.

The criticism was so great that I nearly gave up the design entirely and contemplated retooling old design. After watching the machine run for a couple of hours I realized the design engineer had inadvertently used the wrong pin to guide the bearing into position.

By quickly replacing the new pins with the old pins from old tooling and keeping the rest of our new tooling the scrap rate dropped to less than 1 percent. The machine ran for less than 24 hours with the incorrect pin and ran for the next year plus at over 99 percent first time through quality.

How easy it would have been to draw the wrong conclusion here and never attempt anything great again. I could have easily let the machine run with poor quality like the five engineers before me did and have no problems.

In fact deciding to make a change caused me to be criticized by every major leader in the facility. Not one of the managers ever came back and thanked me for the machine running so effectively after 24 hours.

This is a perfect example of why everyone talks and few decide because they know when they decide as Harry Truman said, “The buck stops here.”

I decided a long time ago to strive for excellence in all I do. If that means others without the same drive will not like my decisions then so be it. I am ultimately accountable to God, not man.

3. Waiting for the Perfect Information

Thirdly, many people delay decisions waiting for perfect information before deciding. This is an excellent way to fail in business. By the time you would have perfect information your opportunity has passed you by.

When I started in business many told me they would wait to see how I did. I told them if they waited it would only place them years behind. The interesting point is that none of the people who said come back when you make it ever chose to start the leadership journey of success.

Procrastination is the assassination of motivation and many people are suffering from this disease. They feel if they have good information today that they will have better information tomorrow. This may be true, but the competition has already decided and has moved ahead by making the tough decisions.

There is no such thing as perfect information. This is why it requires guts to succeed. Jack Welch has come up with a fancier term and calls it “Edge.” Call it what you want, but it boils down to intestinal fortitude and the willingness to make the tough calls.

If you know you cannot accomplish your destiny with path A, then make the tough call. So many people give up their destiny and true dreams for the convenience of what they already have.

I refuse to be part of the “settle for” club and I refuse to wait for perfect information to decide.

Confront the facts, analyze the options, and make the call. Remember, the ability to learn and decide faster is a major competitive advantage. Slow organizations to not last in today’s market environment.

When your life is said and done, will people talk about what you said or what you have done? Make your life count! I heard a speaker say, “If you are going to run with the big dogs—you need to get off the porch!”

It is time to get out of the stands and on to the field. The game of life is being played! Are you a participant or a spectator?


Orrin Woodward is the co-founder of Team, a leadership development and training company, and the New York Times best-selling co-author of Launching a Leadership Revolution.

Named by the International Association of Business as a Top 10 Leadership Guru, he is dedicated to building leaders and entrepreneurs and promoting freedom and prosperity.

Orrin blogs regularly at Orrin Woodward. He lives in Port St. Lucie, Florida with his wife and four children.

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