“The solution to your indecision is not to be found in avoiding it!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
Think faster. Act more. Do things.
Hunt down the hesitation. Vanquish the vacillation. Destroy the dithering! Get moving! The world is changing but many organizations are not, because they are paralyzed by indecision.
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You know I write about this topic a lot, most often in the context of a world in which everyone seems to have been waiting around for a recession that didn’t happen. Organizations seem to be deferring plans, avoiding action, hesitating on innovating, and preferring to spin their wheels, instead of actually doing something. The result is entirely predictable as the world begins to pass them by.
I certainly see it in my world each and every day. The last year has been a roller coaster of event inquiries, slow decision-making, or a complete absence thereof. The good news is that my fall is full, with events in San Diego, Houston, Hawaii, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Palm Springs. The side news to all this is that I’ve blocked off two full weeks starting at the end of the month, as my 30-year-old son will be getting married. I intend to be fully engaged in all of the joyous celebrations – and have turned down a significant number of potential speaking engagements as a result.’
But for all those events that are going forward, there have been many more that have not. I can honestly say that there have been at least five times more inquiries than there have been confirmed bookings, an imbalance that I have never previously seen in the world that involves this odd job of mine. The fact is, there have been many, many initial inquiries followed by massive bouts of indecision. I’ve been contacted by people who indicate that they need to organize a leadership meeting for their team in order to confront some big, challenging disruptive trend – only for them to say later on that they’ve decided to do it later on. The big challenging trend hasn’t disappeared, but their resolve to do something about it has! The result is always predictable.
The fascinating thing is that so many of these decisions – or lack thereof – have become ridiculously short term I used to get booked for events 6 months to a year in advance; it is now not uncommon to get most bookings for dates less than 3 months out. In some cases, it’s a few weeks! And then there are those who simply can’t make a decision while the clock runs out. At this moment, some are still dithering, waiting, pausing for events that are quickly approaching in the calendar.
This entire state of affairs seems to have defined the year 2023 – after everyone rushed back to in-person events in 2022, they seem to be keeping themselves busy this year by not being busy. The result is that one of the more interesting aspects of the industry in which I work is the massive indecision that it must confront every day. The problem seems to be industry-wide – I used to think it was just me, but it’s affecting every single person and company in this strange industry in which I work. I’m represented and have been booked at one point or another by 40 different speakers bureaus, and agents worldwide, and many of them report to me the same thing – clients are having difficulty in making decisions, so they don’t. I’ve been looking at my own event inquiries for the past year, and am shocked by the fact that well over one hundred of them failed to move forward because of an excuse that ‘it’s not the right time to do something.’
In its simplest definition, indecision is the absence of initiative. But in its most negative expression, it is a conscious action of hesitation, often driven by the avoidance or fear of actually making a decision — because it might lead to a negative outcome. How can we cut through indecision? I’ve been thinking about what I’ve done to try to move forward potential clients out of the much meandering. This includes:
- helping them see the clarity of moving forward – spending more time with them to assist them in seeing the benefits that will come from actually making a decision.
- giving them extra benefits that come with a decision – what’s that phrase? ‘Throw them a bone.’ Pre-event videos, blog posts, and assistance with marketing – I’ll do what I can to help them realize that a decision can lead to other things.
- identifying for them the reality of their indecision. It’s not a massive decision, really – it’s a simple one.
- making clear the consequences of inaction – in stark terms, the future happens even if they do not!
- reducing the number of options of choice – get rid of any complexity to a decision. Keep it simple!
- making the scope of the decision seem manageable. Break the decision process down into small chunks.
The last point bears repeating. Many people fail to make a decision because the scale of the decision simply seems to be too big. The solution? Don’t think of it as an elephant in the room!
I have decided that tackling my overwhelming to-do list is kind of like eating an elephant. You have to pick a
place to start and not worry about how big the task is. I have been told you can’t finish what you don’t start. However, in my world I spend far too much time worrying about whether I eat the elephant’s toenail, tail or ear first.
Paralyzed by indecision
20 April 2023, Tri-State Neighbor
A decision. might not turn out to be a good one, but at least, it’s a decision.