When I was in high school, I loved playing basketball with my buddies. Just one problem: I was awful. In fact, it seemed I couldn’t make a jump shot to save my life. This did not go unnoticed by my friends.
Finally, one pulled me aside and suggested we analyze my shooting motion. He diagnosed my problem instantly – At the peak of my jump when I was supposed to be shooting the ball, I was hesitating. As a result, the ball was leaving my hands when my body was descending back toward the ground. Another missed shot.
My buddy asked why I was hesitating. I had to think about it for a second before I realized that my hesitation occurred because I was trying to decide – in mid-air – whether to bank the ball off the backboard or shoot it straight into the basket. That split second of indecision cost me the shot.
The solution was simple. I decided to create a rule to govern all future jump shots. From that point on I would always shoot for the basket and ignore the backboard. By eliminating the decision, I eliminated the hesitation. My jump shot success improved immediately.
In business, as in basketball, I’ve found that eliminating indecision can help boost success, primarily because a confident, decisive person comes across as more competent. And that leads to winning more business. Just as importantly, you’re more likely to make a smart decision if you’ve head plenty of time to think about it than if you make a snap decision on the spot.
Over the years, I’ve noticed I face repeated situations where decisions must be made, and decisiveness is critical. To avoid hesitation, I decided how to handle these circumstances in advance and then wrote them down as the rules, or policies, by which I run my business. Some are obvious, some may seem trivial, some merely save me from my own bad habits, but all help me deal confidently with clients during daily business interactions.
I keep my business rules posted on the bulletin board next to my desk. In this podcast, I describe these rules and why they are important to my freelance writing business. Your rules will probably be different, but I encourage you to consider in advance how you’ll deal with common business situations.