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It’s Decision Day

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So, it has arrived. Decision day. A good time to consider the power of decision.

According to Columbia researcher Sheena Iyengar, the average American makes 70 decisions a day. We spend half of our average waking hours (17.3) at work, which means I suppose that in that 8.65 hours, half the decisions are related to our business lives.

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Nick Tasler extrapolates in Psychology Today that we have 35 chances a day to propel our business or career forward. If you apply this formula to your team, or the entire company, then the factor is 35n. So thousands of decisions are made each day in your organization to the power of n, and in the aggregate they will accelerate, stall or derail the proverbial train.

Are some decisions more important than others? Of course. The one thing we agree on this Election Day is that the differences between our presidential candidates are crystal clear. It is a momentous choice. By 8 PM tonight, we will have determined a collective future for our children, grandchildren and generations beyond. Someday, they will look back on this day in history, and study why we took one road and not the other.

There does exist a small percentage of American citizens who don’t think this decision matters all that much. They rationalize that whoever wins still has to face-off with a deeply divided, partisan Washington, elected and empowered by us yet unable to put their heads together and use common sense as their guide. That the state of our government today is gridlock cannot be denied.  However, most Americans still have faith that with the right mix of leadership, we can make sensible policy that benefits the common good.

It must be really fun to reside in one of those swing states (the ones where the TV stations have been popping the cork to celebrate gazillions in advertising dollars) since living there, you KNOW your vote COUNTS.

But my sense is that wherever they live, people can’t wait to go to the polls today. We want our voices to be heard. We relish the opportunity to mark that ballot. There is the wildly crazy, remote possibility that our home state will confound the political pundits; maybe a sure-thing, true-blue state will go red, or a reliably-red state will turn blue.

Maybe voters will confound a sophisticated get-out-the-vote machine, where coordinators equipped with high-tech tracking software seem to know where and what time your grandmother is shopping for groceries, so they can pick her up in a van and get her to the polls.

We have a choice. Roughly 230 million of our 300 million-plus population is over the age of 18, and today, if they are registered, they can choose.

Choice is empowering. Choice is liberating. Choice inspires us to be better citizens, and better people. We inform ourselves. We debate, listen, analyze, consider, discuss, and defend. The mere fact that we have a choice makes us more responsible. We take ownership of our choices. We are thrilled by the chance to determine our destiny. We understand that we will only have ourselves to thank or blame for the outcome.

In business, it works this way, too. When people are empowered to choose, they are liberated. This choice unleashes a force that simply does not exist when leaders make decisions that should be made by their teams.

Great leaders understand how potent choice is. They know that when they set the direction and insist on choice, not simply allow it, something amazing happens. People begin to debate, analyze, consider, discuss, defend, and take ownership. When they take ownership, they make better decisions. And then, with a say in the choice, they work harder to see it through.

As a political junkie, I really love this day for all it stands for; the hopes and dreams of individuals, and the possibilities for a nation still defining itself in the world. If you’re reading this before you walk or drive to your polling place to cast that ballot, I hope that you hold the pen or puncher in hand, and savor the moment. And then perhaps you may also be inspired to go to work and unleash the power of choice in your organization. Who knows what will happen that you cannot yet imagine?

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