My Most Public Bad Decision

Have you ever made a bad decision? I have made many, but one stands out in my mind because it was a very public decision.  I’ve thought quite a bit about what went wrong. Although at first it wasn’t obvious, I have discovered the root cause, which is present in many of our bad decisions.

Bobby explains how every leader can learn from a bad decision and better understand their own motivation by reviewing these statements from the survey! In 1988, the governor of Texas asked me to run for the Texas State Senate, even though I was not active in politics.

During the campaign, I made an expedient decision. I had good intentions, but I was motivated by fear of the possibility of losing the election.

The Root Cause of a Bad Decision

I made a quick decision “on the spot” to allow some people to send out a mail piece on my behalf. They even paid for all of the associated expenses! In my haste, I failed to:

  • Run the idea by my campaign committee. My thinking was that I was the candidate, and I should be making decisions.
  • Review and approve the mail piece with my name all over it before it was mailed, or at least engage my campaign committee to participate in the decision-making process to approve it.
  • Approve the mail list that the people were going to use.

After the piece was already mailed, I learned:

1. The people used a mail piece we would not have approved.

2. They got over-zealous and expanded the mail list to include potential voters who did not want to receive the mail piece.

Well, even though this bad decision did not ruin my campaign, I spent a lot of time mending fences and addressing tough questions by the news media. I could have made a better decision and further motivated my team, if I had considered some of the truths revealed in the motivation survey.

Motivation Survey

In a previous blog posts, I offered you a simple survey about our motivations.  You can download FREE the survey <here> so you can easily record your own answers.

The statements in the survey ask you to think more deeply about the important topic of motivation.  I have found that this survey is one of the most powerful tools for discovery and learning.

In recent blog posts, we’ve been unpacking the survey, one part at a time. Let’s see what we can learn today:

Every leader can better understand their own motivation by reviewing the following statements from the survey.

5. I can get frustrated trying to explain something to someone who has already made up his or her mind, and who won’t even try to understand the additional information or point of view I am presenting.

This is what happens when we’re talking with someone who already has made up his or her mind – as is the case when something has already been decided and the advocate is hoping to get “buy-in”.  In these situations we feel as if we’re talking to a brick wall – and who among us would be happy wasting time that way?

So, most people agree with this statement. However, we should note that some people have pointed out that even though we may not feel good about being ignored, we should be mature enough that we would not allow ourselves to become frustrated over it – so they answer “No”.

6. I am likely to feel better (more interested, less frustrated, etc.) if I have at least some input and influence about matters concerning me. 

Most people answer “Yes” to this one.  For example, most janitors would appreciate being asked about what brand of buffing compound they’d like to use.

If an aloof purchasing agent buys the compound without asking the janitor about it, the agent can be viewed as considering the janitor to be just a janitor – and nobody wants to be seen as just anything!

7. Time goes faster for me when I am busy, and I tend to get turned on by a sense of achievement or recognition for achievement.

Isn’t it interesting how some days seem to just fly by? All of a sudden we may realize it’s time to go home – and boy, doesn’t it feel good to have accomplished all that we did!

8. I would prefer to have 10% more income even if to receive it I had to work on a different job where the work was of no apparent value or importance.

Think about this. Most people recognize that there’s no way they’d be willing to push against a brick wall fifty-five minutes per hour for eight hours a day, day after day! There’d be no way to gain a sense of achievement and worthiness.

You can learn, like I did, to minimize making bad decisions.  There is a way to make better decisions when you engage people to participate in the decision-making process.

Would you like to give input on matters concerning you? Have you ever turned down more pay because the new position did not add value and meaning to yourself and others?   How about bad decisions – what did you learn from your most public bad decision? Please leave your comment <here> and share this blog post with a friend or co-worker.

To learn more about my comments concerning the first four statements of the motivation survey, please <click here>.   

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