Lessons from a video game

Probably like many of you, I have a simple video game on my iPad that I will sometimes go to for a time of simple distraction. It is fun, mildly challenging, and I have not become addicted to it. In playing this game, it has come to my mind that it is a simple illustration of a challenge that leaders face daily.

How do you make decisions that are both fast and right? At what level of confidence do you make the decision? Is your focus on the right thing / area or are you distracted from something important going on in a different domain of your responsibilities?

The game I play is one where you match up jewels of a certain type into different combinations. The better the combinations and their locations the better the score, but while you are trying to make that decision, the clock is ticking as well. If you hesitate too long, the opportunity is gone!

Sometimes I will be moving fast and making quick decisions and missing opportunities for higher scoring opportunities, sometimes I hesitate too long and run out of time in the overall game, sometimes I am so focused on one area of the screen that I miss opportunities in other ares of the screen. It reminds me so much of making decisions as a leader.

You have to learn to be able to shift from a tactical to a strategic view quickly, you have to learn the consider (quickly) the second and third order consequences of your decisions, you have to learn to not be so focused on just one aspect of our business that you miss opportunities or looming challenges in another domain of your business.

Finally, you have to become comfortable with understanding that you will never know all the facts and that you have to make a decision or time will run out and the decision will be made by default.

Practice to learn how to make decisions fast and right.

“Making a Tough Decision? Ask These Five Questions First.” – Thomas Koulopoulos


who or what are you allowing to define you?

Michigan cherry groveHave you ever heard the phrase “They drank the Kool-Aid”? It is a trite phrase that refers to a tragic event many years ago where people mindlessly committed suicide while blindly following a demented leader. In today’s usage it is about people who blindly, or naively, accept (and sometimes come to believe) all aspects of a party line, ideological position, Fox or MSNBC, corporate culture, a certain leader’s viewpoints, or what “society” expects. They lose their unique identity in that of the larger group and stop thinking for themselves and stop behaving in accordance with their core beliefs (if they even know their core beliefs).

People are social creatures, we want to be be accepted by others. We want the approval of others and we want to be a part of the group, team, company, party, or community. Sometimes so much so, that we become someone who we aren’t. We change our behaviors, we mouth the “by-line” of whatever organization we belong to, or want to belong to, as some sort of mystical mantra. We work hard to find out the cultural norms of the organization or community and then we do our best to adapt to them. All the time losing little pieces of who we are – who we were designed to be. We believe that we have to conform to succeed (whatever that might mean). We allow others to define who we should be or how we should act, or even how we should believe.

In some areas of society such as higher education or the public square, you are labeled intolerant, bigoted, ignorant, or hateful if you express an opinion that does not conform to what is politically correct at the time. While we may recognize that type of overt or blatant pressure/reaction in the public square, the same thing is going on in a more subtle manner in the various institutions or groups we belong to. In subtle ways, we learn what is acceptable and what will earn us disapproval. We accept the leader’s sayings as “gospel” – as truth itself and fail to question the truth and wisdom of the sayings as well as the motivation behind them.

The thing is, we are beautifully unique creations made in the image of the living God. We have a source of Truth that we can go to to test what any man or woman says to us is truth. In fact, we have an obligation to test what we are told. In addition to that, if you are an American or a citizen of a free country, you are a free person and not required to “bend the knee” to any other individual, no matter how powerful or influential. We have the Source of Truth, we have political freedom, and we have our own minds that we must learn to use.

The first step is knowing what you believe and why you believe it. You must know what is Truth. You must decide what are your core beliefs – where is/are the line(s) you will not cross no matter the situation? You must determine how you will react when your core beliefs are challenged for they will be – you can count on that happening. You will need to count the cost and be prepared to pay that cost. It may be a broken relationship, exclusion from a group or community, or the loss of a job. However, it is your responsibility to know what you believe and why you believe it and to determine how that lines up with Truth.

Yes, we need wise people in our lives whom we often heed, we need to be willing to have our thinking challenged by others, we need to be ready to change what we think/believe when we are confronted with Truth that is contrary to what we are thinking. A caution – no person is wise all the time. Sometimes very smart and wise people say or do foolish things. So, it is up to you to check what you are told against Truth – never blindly accept what you are told.

Seek Truth – for me as a Christian, that Truth is found in the Word of God, the Bible. It is an external, objective standard of truth. It is what I use to measure what I am being told by others.

Learn to think for yourself and to measure your thinking (and others) against the standard of Truth. Learn to think for yourself and not just being a “herd animal” blindly repeating the mantras of some leader or talking head on TV. Try being counter-cultural for a bit and define yourself according to Truth and not by how others define you.


“Don’t Make Decisions, Orchestrate Them”

“Don’t Make Decisions, Orchestrate Them”

“Is the role of the manager to make decisions, or to make sure that decisions get made? The answer, of course, is both — but many managers focus so much on the first role that they neglect the second. The reality, however, is that decision-making often is not a solo activity, but rather an orchestrated process by which the manager engages other people in reaching a conclusion. Doing this effectively not only improves the quality of the decision, but also ensures that everyone is more committed to its implementation.”