Over the years, I have seen how making great decisions leads to professional success as well as personal transformation. I want to share a story about principled decision making, a tool I didn’t understand at first that became the one I use most consistently in my life, coaching, and teaching. In fact, it’s so important that we are spending the first week of How to Make Great Decisions focused on clarifying our principles.
John’s Story: Principled Decision Making
Early in my career as a venture capitalist, I worked on a deal to sell a portfolio company. The Chairman of the Board, John, was the first person to show me what principled decision making looks like, and it was something I’ll never forget.
We had been negotiating the terms of this deal for months, and we were close to the finish line. A successful exit would be a huge win for the company and the investors. One day out of the blue, we got a call informing us that the potential buyer was threatening to walk away from the deal. The board scheduled an emergency meeting to deliberate.
Emotions were high at the emergency meeting, and no one could agree on what to do. After some deliberation, John stood up and calmly listed off a set of five principles he lived by. He did this quickly and with ease, never losing his center. He ended by saying, “You build a company to make the best company, you don’t make it to sell it. We don’t chase. If they don’t want to buy, fine. In the meantime, we’ll continue to build the best company we can.”
Seeing the way John made a decision in a tough situation using his principles as his guide was an impactful experience for me. I hadn’t fully understood why anyone thought principled decision-making was effective. It didn’t make sense to me before this moment.
His choice to let the buyer walk away was not in service to his ego, his identity, or the opportunity for short-term gain. In fact, walking away from the deal, on some level, felt like crap in the moment. Because it came from principles that he knew would work and because he was committed to living his life by those principles, it created clarity and ease that felt fantastic.
As life would have it, a year later the same buyer came back and paid far more for the company than their original offer.
More important than any single outcome, principled decision making helps you turn difficult decisions into ones made authentically and almost automatically. Even when the stakes are high. Even when the consequences seem dire.
You get to be in your empowerment. You live your truth.
What principles will you use to create the life you want?
P.S. If you’re curious about my new course, please join me for a live Q&A with rapid fire coaching on February 10th at 8:30am PST.