Weekly Thought – September 21, 2021
Fred traveled heavily in his consulting and speaking work. Early on he attained lifetime status with American Airlines. He met interesting people and exercised his great skill of question asking. This week’s thought recalls a funny experience during the 1960s on one of those cross-country flights.
Decisiveness is a quality of effective executives, but it is indeed a rare trait. Everyone likes to say, “Oh, yes, I am decisive.” Very few really are. They wait until they are forced into a decision or until the decision is made for them.
Lately I’ve been accumulating clever ways people avoid making a decision. And there is no dearth of material. One of the worst offenders is the executive who talks five minutes on both sides of the question and then emphatically announces, “That is what I think.” Oh, no, there is one worse – the fellow who sits next to the him and says, “I agree with Bob.”
Actually, decisiveness is a matter of the will. I think I will illustrate it with a true story.
I was spending a few days with Mobil Oil (one of my consulting clients) on the west coast. Wanting to get home I took the red eye American flight to Chicago and then on to Cincinnati. When I got to the check-in I realized the flight was full. As we loaded people kept coming on the plane until every seat was taken except for the one next to me.
Just before the door closed a 6’3” mountain of a man with big, broad shoulders and a flat stomach came running on the plane and sat down next to me. He shouldn’t have done that. Why should he make me uncomfortable all the way to Chicago as I sat there with my 225 pounds of solid blubber? It was Charlton Heston, the actor.
“Mr. Heston, you are in wonderful physical shape.” “I have to be in my business.” I replied, “I wish I could be, too, but I have to work.” “Well, I have to work but I can stay in this shape on 17 minutes a day.”
He had no right to say that. That was not sociable. I have 17 minutes a day. He should have talked about days under professional training.
For 30 minutes I sat and stewed in my own fat. Then I said, “Mr. Heston, I travel a lot.” “I do, too.” “How do you exercise when you are on the road?” “It’s very simple. I go into the hotel room, sit on the luggage rack, put my toes under the bed, and do back bends.” “What do you do about your shoulders?” “Oh, that is easy. I roll under the bed and push the bed up and down in the air.”
Now what is the difference between Heston and Smith? You recognize it all too quickly. A recent survey discovered the definable difference between successful and unsuccessful people: the unsuccessful say “I should – I ought to- I plan to – I’m going to” but never get around to it. The successful say, “I will.” They make the decision and take action. They do it.
This week carefully consider: 1) As I read Fred’s story, where do I need to make a decision? 2)What is holding me back? 3) Who models decisiveness in my work life, community, and family?
Words of Wisdom: “Decisiveness is a matter of the will.”
Wisdom from the Word: “So give your servant a discerning mind so he can make judicial decisions for your people and distinguish right from wrong. Otherwise no one is able to make judicial decisions for this great nation of yours.” ( 1 Kings 3:9 NET Bible)