The Question to Answer All Questions

askit (1 of 1)Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of all nuggets of wisdom that Andy Stanley so eloquently sends out into the world. I believe that he has such fantastic insight into leadership and human nature. He so clearly and humorously brings truth to light. This week I stumbled on a huge piece of wisdom that I believe is so applicable to decision making in life as well as in business. The premise is that he has pieced together “the question that will revolutionize how you make decisions.” I couldn’t wait to share with you!

I think back to the years of struggle when it came to decision making because there was a gap between where I was and where I wanted to be. I believe that this is a problem that will never really go away in life. As Andy Stanley points out, “I’ve concluded that while nobody plans to mess up his life, the problem is that few of us plan not to. That is, we don’t put the necessary safeguards in place to ensure happy endings.” No one sets out to make poor financial choices that will tank their business. No one takes on the responsibility of photographing a wedding expecting to encounter a problem that will result in client dissatisfaction. No one jumps through the hoops of setting up business legalities to find themselves in trouble with the IRS. We are too often led to make decisions that aren’t necessarily bad, but they border that gray area. Why? Because it’s easy. For our own perceived momentary gain. Just because something isn’t illegal or immoral doesn’t mean that it will set us up for success. Think back to life and business moments that you wish you could do over- many of these situations could have been avoided had you asked yourself the following question:

“In light of my past experience, my current circumstances, and my future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing for me to do?”

When making decisions now, it is helpful to evaluate the end result based on previous experience. Your history, upbringing, past decisions predispose you to a very unique set of challenges. It is so helpful to identify these areas that set you up for failure so that you may successfully navigate towards your desired outcomes. For instance, someone who has had a prior history of struggling with accumulating debt may take additional precautions to found a business without charging equipment on a credit card.

Andy discusses how life is seasonal. “Today’s sorrow will be replaced by tomorrow’s joy. Today’s anger will probably be tempered with tomorrow’s perspective. Today’s worry will be replaced by tomorrow’s concerns… If we are not careful, we will allow the pressures, fears, and circumstances of today to drive us to make decisions we will regret tomorrow. That being the case, you owe it to yourself and to the people you love to take your current emotions and state of mind into account when making decisions.” A decision that is helpful today may not be so great for you or your business a year from now when circumstances are different. Sometimes the best decision is to not make a decision at all for a while. “As you consider your frame of mind, your emotional state, and even your physical health, what is the wise thing to do? As you consider your current responsibilities and commitments, things that a year from now may not be a factor, what is the wise thing to do? As you examine the status of your finances, what is the wise thing to do? Life is seasonal. What is appropriate today may be completely inappropriate a month from now. What is foolish today may be prudent tomorrow. It is not enough to determine what is legal, permissible, or even practical.” In light of your current circumstances what is the wise thing to do?

I believe that one of the best things that you can do for your life and business when making decisions is to take a good look at your future hopes and dreams. Too often we shortchange ourselves and make achieving our hopes and dreams nearly impossible for decisions we make haphazardly in the present without considering how it will affect our business and relationships. One bad decision can wreck your life and business and that is terrifying. What do you want your business to look like in ten years? Your life? How do you want to use your talents and career to serve your family and clients? What do you want your finances to look like? What can you do now so that you will still be fired up about a career that you love to wake up to every day? How can you execute your decisions so that your schedule reflects your family’s importance?

I believe that asking the question above when considering both life and business decisions will only lead to future success. “In light of your past experience, current circumstances, and future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing to do financially? Relationally? Morally? Professionally? Spiritually? … You are a unique blend of past experiences, current circumstances, and future hopes and dreams. Wisdom allows you to customize the decision-making process to your specific professional, financial, and relational dimensions. Don’t miss this opportunity.”

A few takeaway items that stuck with me: Be mindful of red flags and do not ignore them. Ask questions to see what’s beneath them because we can be the masters of self deception. Don’t trade in your dreams for what seems desirable in the moment. Guard your future hopes and dreams. You have made mistakes in the past but that does not mean that tomorrow is a new day to start determining what are wise steps to take.

This was just a tiny bit of encouragement found in Andy Stanley’s book “Ask It.” If you are interested in learning more about making wise choices pick up a copy here!

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