The Best Decision-Making Quote You Never Heard

The Best Decision-Making Quote You Never Heard

Glider The best quotes. Words are rudders.

3 decision-making quotes:

Theodore Roosevelt:

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

Edwin Markham:

“Choices are the hinges of Destiny.”

Peter Drucker:

“If you have quick consensus on an important matter, don’t make the decision.” Peter Drucker

3 obscure decision-making quotes:

Phil McGraw:

“Sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the decision right.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.”

Thomas Sowell:

“It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.”

The best decision-making quote you never heard:

The same ‘good’ decision infuriates some and delights others.

During a recent conversation Dr. Eddie Campbell said something I hurriedly scribbled down.

“We make the best worst decisions.”

Eddie is a school Superintendent who makes decisions in a context where no perfect decision is available.

5 principles for imperfect decisions:

  1. Don’t pretend you made the perfect decision. Stay curious.
  2. Make room for improvement after making tough decisions. Stay flexible.
  3. Don’t project or protect the illusion that you have all the answers. Stay humble.
  4. Admit when you screw up. Stay vulnerable.
  5. Always seek the best interest of those you serve. Stay service-minded.


“If you’re perfectly clear, you haven’t adequately considered the path forward.” From, Making Decisions When the Path is Uncertain and Confusing.

“You get more of the same, if you do more of the same.” From, Being Respected While Making Unpopular Decisions.

What’s your favorite decision-making quote on the above list?

What decision-making quote might you add to the above list?

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5 Ways to Learn from Mistakes

5 Ways to Learn from Mistakes

The dumbest mistake is making the same mistake.

Why don’t you put your hand in fire? Because you learned.

We’re toast unless we learn from mistakes.

Learning from mistakes makes existence possible.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” This quote originated in an Al-Anon meeting, not Einstein.

Success hinges on learning from mistakes.

John Wooden said, “If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything.”

Sadly, some of us learn slowly. A few don’t learn at all.

5 ways to learn from mistakes:

#1. Own it.

Criminals that experience guilt repeat their crimes less frequently than criminals that experience shame. (NIH)

Shame tends to blame. Blame rejects responsibility.

The person who owns their mistakes grows, but blamers repeat mistakes.

Say, “I screwed up.”

Blame produces ignorance.

Tip: Notice what people say about their mistakes.

#2. Make it right.

You learn and grow when you fix what you did wrong.

Tip: Give people a chance to fix their own mistakes.

#3. Know who you are.

You made a mistake, but you aren’t a mistake. When personal identity is tied to mistakes, we tend to hide and blame.

#4. Debrief.

I love the question, “What’s working?” However, we learn more from failure than we learn from success. Ask the four questions of an after-action review:

  1. What were our intended results?
  2. What were our actual results?
  3. What caused our results?
  4. What will we sustain or improve?

#5. Teach.

Teach others what you learned from screwing up. Here’s a conversation starter for your next team meeting. “What have you learned from mistakes?”

Kangaroo knocks out boxer. Winners learn from mistakes. Losers create destructive patterns.


Reflect on frustration. Recurring frustration is cultivated by repeating the same mistakes. Dig into frustration.

The best mistakes are learning experiences.

Winners learn from mistakes. Losers create destructive patterns.

What prevents us from learning from mistakes?

How might leaders learn from their mistakes?

Psychology: Why Some Don’t Learn from Their Mistakes (

3 Ways Owning Your Mistakes Will Make You Powerful (

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Blame: It’s E. B. White’s Fault

Blame: It’s E. B. White’s Fault

I slept late this morning. I slept late partly because my friend is vacationing in St. Martin. I slept late partly because our granddaughters started school and I didn’t. But mostly, E.B. White kept me awake in the night.

I listen to books when I wake in the night to protect my brain from its own thoughts. Last night I listened to the “Essays of White.” “The Eye of Edna” led me to “Coon Tree”. Before I knew it, two hours passed.

If I’m grumpy today, it’s E. B. White’s fault. And that is the problem.

Image of E. B. White.

Blaming E. B. White is more comfortable than being responsible for myself. If White doesn’t keep my eyes open, I blame other things.

When I stay up late watching TV, I blame television when I’m grumpy. Blue light from TV keeps me awake. What a relief!

Caffeine keeps me awake. But I’m addicted to coffee, so I blame the dark roast my wife grinds in the morning. Ah! It’s the woman’s fault I’m grumpy.

I’ve heard alcohol keeps drinkers awake. Thankfully, that’s not a problem. I bought a case of Yuengling Lager in July. I have 15 bottles left at the beginning of September. My wife used two bottles in pulled-pork. But eating pulled-pork at night keeps me awake. Thankfully, it’s the woman again.

Blame is comfort when I reject responsibility.

Blame is unloading responsibility on someone or something else.

When relationships go sour, I think of THEIR broken responsibilities, not mine. When things don’t get done, I have a million ‘good’ excuses why they didn’t.

Blame is the death of leadership. Incompetent followers are excuses instead of opportunities. Rather than innovation, poor results inspire self-justification. And that is the problem.

What prevents people from taking responsibility?

How will you take responsibility today?

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Situational Awareness: How to Stop Hitting People with Bats

Situational Awareness: How to Stop Hitting People with Bats

I woke up remembering that I hit a girl with a baseball bat. I was taking practice swings during recess, and I struck her on the left side of her head. I think I was in fourth grade, but I’m not sure. I am sure of the look on her face.

She looked horrified. I remember her left hand going to the side of her head and her shocked eyes. My memory stops there.

The bat must have glanced off. There was no blood. I have no recollection of the aftermath or any consequences for my neglect. I see her face in my memory, but don’t remember her name. I cringe every time her eyes come to mind.

Only a psychopath enjoys unintentionally harming anyone.

Situational awareness:

Situational awareness protects you from unintentionally harming others.

Tune in:

Distracted leaders don’t know what’s going on around them and can’t see what’s in front of them.

You’re having a conversation and thinking about the next thing on your agenda, for example. You don’t intend to, but distracted attention devalues people.

When you can’t give someone undivided attention, try saying, “I want to give you my full attention. I have a meeting in five minutes. Could we connect after the meeting?”

Situational awareness is:

Situational awareness is noticing.

  1. Notice the environment.
  2. Watch faces.
  3. Hear tone.
  4. Mention it. “I could be wrong, but something feels off. What’s happening?”
  5. Ask, “What should I be noticing?”

Situational awareness is pulling back from the next thing. Release thoughts of the next thing so you can focus on this thing.

Situational awareness is knowing the backstory of team members.

Situational awareness is respecting the agenda of others. Your busyness isn’t permission to disrupt workflow and cause unintended harm.

How might leaders practice situational awareness today?

What makes being present difficult for you?

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The True Path to Greatness that Anyone Can Begin Today

The True Path to Greatness that Anyone Can Begin Today

Great musicians serve music. Great spouses serve each other. Great leaders serve a noble purpose.

Your greatness reveals itself as you serve.

Sparkler Your greatness reveals itself as you serve.

The path to greatness:

#1. Experience greatness:

“To be great – you must experience great – then you can be great.” Stan Endicott

If you want to be a great dancer, experience great dancing. If you to be a great musician, experience great music. If you want to be a great leader, experience servant-leadership.

Choose your models carefully. Models ignite ambition. Don’t admire successful jerk-holes lest you become one.

#2. Reach outside yourself:

Selfish people succeed all the time. But you must serve something bigger than yourself to be great.

A leader who serves an evil cause might be skillful, but they’re not great.

Serving something noble contributes to greatness.

#2. Provide value:

“Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.” Bob Burg

In youth we serve ourselves. In adolescence we serve to receive. In maturity we serve to bring value to others.

The essences of greatness is bringing value to others.

#3. Know yourself:

The more you serve, the more you understand yourself. You learn what brings joy to you and contributes to others at the same time.

Service is the path to self-knowledge.

You discover yourself when you engage and connect, not in stagnation.

Committing to serve drives out the self-deceptions of isolation.

#4. Have confidence:

Confidence springs from self-knowledge. Great leadership begins when you appreciate your unique ability to serve the interest of others.

You’re less than you could be unless you confidently serve something bigger than yourself.

Your confident self emerges as you serve.

How do you define greatness?

What aspects of the path to greatness seem most relevant to you today?

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The Five Faces of Curiosity

The Five Faces of Curiosity

Curiosity applies to everything leaders do.

Apart from curiosity, leaders…

  1. Feel defensive.
  2. Need obedient minions.
  3. Seldom connect.
  4. Tend to manipulate.

Smart people practice curiosity. Everyone else gets dumb and dumber.

Lightbulb The real cause of problems is solutions.

The five faces of curiosity

#1. Inward-facing curiosity:

  1. Who am I?
  2. What do I love doing?
  3. When am I at my best?
  4. What contributions have I made?
  5. What contributions most energize me?
  6. What happens to people when I show up?
  7. What’s the energy level of people after they interact with me?

#2. People-facing curiosity:

Ask all the inward-facing questions with a people-facing perspective. For example, “What’s the energy level of people after you interact with them?”

  1. I notice you’re good at…. How did you get good at that? (Add the following question.)
  2. How might I get better at that?

#3. Problem-facing curiosity:

  1. What issues keep returning?
  2. What conversations are you repeatedly having?
  3. What’s frustrating?
  4. What do repeated frustrations say about you? Others?
  5. Five whys.
  6. If you explained this challenge to a novice, what would you say?
  7. What’s making things hard?

#4. Solution-facing curiosity:

  1. What have you tried?
  2. What would you try if you were new here?
  3. What do you know?
  4. What’s the question?
  5. If you did know, what would you do?
  6. Who might know?
  7. What advice would you give me if our roles were reversed?

#5. Progress-facing curiosity:

  1. What do you need to stop doing?
  2. What’s distracting you from doing what’s important?
  3. What’s next?
  4. Where would you like to be at the end of the week? What’s the first step to getting there?
  5. What do your really want?

Curiosity tips:

  1. Create a gap between what people know and what they need to do.
  2. Honor question askers.
  3. Create more than one solution to the same problem.
  4. Ask, “What if?”
  5. Ask, “What else?”

“The real cause of problems is solutions.” Eric Sevareid

What are some of your favorite questions?

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Weekend Update: 8/16/2021 to 8/20/2021

Weekend Update: 8/16/2021 to 8/20/2021

Three things I’m noticing.

  1. Organizations revert to past strategies and former leaders when the goal is stability.
  2. When personal agendas conflict with organizational mission relationships are weapons and progress slows to a crawl.
  3. Vision answers complaints. But complaints capture the imagination of people who don’t have vision.

Now, here’s a quick recap of this weeks posts.

Image of a little girl looking through a heart-shaped hole in a fense.


Passive patience disappoints.

5 ways grace exceeds patience.

  1. Patience withholds. Grace gives.
  2. Patience permits. Grace provides.
  3. Patience tolerates. Grace innovates.
  4. Patience is restraint. Grace is intervention.
  5. Patience is reactive. Grace is proactive.

Generosity with strings is manipulation. Kindness that imposes obligation is barter.

Read more…

Image of a man facing an elephant.


A car that won’t start requires root cause analysis. But people development and culture building may not.

Don’t focus on what you can’t do and don’t have.

The challenge is doing something today in service of incremental improvement.

Read more…

Image of three giraffes that look like they are talking to each other.


Open-minded leadership is a pernicious waste of time when you lose sight of outcomes. So how can you open your mind without wasting time on useless conversations?

Conversations need boundaries to deliver useful results.

Direction is protection for an open mind.

Read more…

Image of a green field of hay with scattered red poppies.


Fools make simple things complicated.

  1. Complexity leads to confusion.
  2. Confusion produces anxiety.
  3. Anxiety creates insecurity.
  4. Insecurity leads to stagnation.

Read more…

Image of lightbulbs with one bright.


Apart from curiosity, leaders…

  1. Feel defensive.
  2. Need obedient minions.
  3. Seldom connect.
  4. Tend to manipulate.

Smart people practice curiosity. Everyone else gets dumb and dumber.

Read more…

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An anecdote for COVID-19

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on our lives. We went from a booming economy to great uncertainty almost overnight. We have seen illness, death, job loss, social unrest, increased anxiety, and a loss of normalcy in our lives. We are grieving over many things, including the sense of security many thought we possessed. But the truth is, the only things we can control are our own reactions and attitudes to what is put before us! 

As we start to wind down 2021 and set our mind to a better 2022, I think we should seek to live out the universal commandment to love others.  No matter your faith perspective, the words about love written by the Apostle Paul over 2000 years ago are still very appropriate today. Paul defined love, the verb, in seven key concepts:  to be patient, kind, trusting, truthful, unselfish, forgiving, and dedicated.  In this blog I would like to explore three of the seven words of love that are most needed right now:  being patient, kind, and trusting.   

Be Patient: Have Self-Control in Difficult Situations. Paul says that “Love is patient.” And from what I have observed this year, many of us could be more patient, especially with our words. It seems in 2021, we have lost our ability to have constructive conversations with those of opposing views and opinions.  This is a troubling trend.

Let’s remember that disagreement does not have to equal conflict. With our words, we have the power to stop the negative dialogue that is so prevalent online and off. Let’s return to constructive dialogue. Remember to listen more and talk less (there is a reason we have two ears and only one mouth!) Engage in discussions that seek the truth, always try to find common ground, and in the end, be respectful.  

Be Kind: Show Encouragement and Enthusiasm. My mother taught me that every time we come into contact with people, we can make their day better or we can make their day worse.  Why not make it better? In fact, research shows that the human brain needs five points of encouragement for every point of constructive criticism in order to stay encouraged and positive.  Unfortunately, we seem to remember the negative more than the positive. 

COVID focus and can be very depressing. So, we need to be more encouraging to family, friends, and those around us. Writing notes of encouragement or saying kind words will not only make the day better for others—it will brighten ours, too! 

Be Trusting: Place Confidence in Someone. Years like 2021 make it harder to trust, period.  It is harder to trust our government leaders, to trust the future of our society, and to trust our own judgment. 

If you struggle with trust and hope in the future, try to keep a broad perspective. I would encourage us all to remember there have been many times in history that seemed to have little hope. The Revolutionary War went on for seven endless years with no hope in sight until…

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