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So Close to a Really Bad Decision

It was Monday morning and the pastor was dusting off his resume.  It was Friday night and she began rationalizing one drink too many.  It was Wednesday afternoon and he was getting ready to yell at his admin for a mistake he thought she made. It was after midnight Tuesday and she was ready to send a group email to her staff to give them a piece of her mind.


Each of these leaders are just one step away from making a life changing decision, that he or she probably ought not to make.  We have all been there, probably more often then we care to admit. 

The life of a leader has to make tough calls almost daily, and will most likely offend people along the way.  It’s just part of the high calling of leadership.  Yet how does a leader avoid making really bad decisions?

There are no full proof methods to be certain, but there are safe guards that you can put into place.  In short, never make a big decision when in the valley.  During those seasons simply commit to climbing out one step at a time.

I learned a method that I learned years ago proved to be a failsafe for me time after time.  I repeat it often when I am in the valley: H.A.L.T.S.! When you are about to make a bad decision, even though at the time is seems oh so logical, HALT!

  • HUNGRY –  It is really not a good idea to make major decisions when you are hungry.  Heck, I can’t even be trusted to make wise choices in the grocery store when I am hungry!  Weather it is because you are dieting, fasting or your eating rhythm is out of whack, if you are hungry, you should push the pause button on that decision.
  • ANGRY – I have written so many emails that seemed to me brilliant at the time.  I knew I was in the right and I was ready to pull the trigger to let my recipients know!  Most of them were written at 3 in the morning.  I have learned to build people in my life to pre-read my strong emails.  Almost never have they given me thumbs up of the unleashing of my “wisdom”.  In fact, when I calm down I often discover that all of my facts were not as accurate as I thought, and I was taking a cowardly way out of avoiding simply calling the person up.
  • LONELY – Most people’s secret sins point back to loneliness.  You ever wonder how a good person winds up on the headlines because they made a series of bad decisions?  If you are a leader, you know a thing or two about loneliness.  The old adage is true, it is lonely at the top. 
  • TIRED – If you are a leader, you push yourself hard.  Exhaustion is way too common in your world.  There is only one solution for weariness, simply get rest.  A leader who builds in the discipline of rest is always a better decision maker.
  • STRESSED -  Money pressures, unrealistic job expectations, unclear job roles, unmet expectations, someone just unleashed their ugly on you, the list goes on.  If you are under tremendous stress, walk away and clear your head.  Process your decisions with trusted friends or colleagues.  Whatever works for you, think twice during these seasons.

Bad decisions usually feel fantastic, in the moment.  You have not even begun to know stress until you have to clean up the aftermath of unwise decisions.  If a decision you are about to make is one your gut is telling crying red-alert, the first thing you do is step back and ask am I hungry, angry, lonely, tired, stresses, or some combination of two or more?  If so, your gut is trying to do you a favor.

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