Krzysztof Witczak

You cannot go wrong while doing the right thing

August 27, 2022

Decision making is an element of our professional life which has many interesting angles.

First of all, if we are early in our career journey, we often hide from making any decisions, leaving it up to more senior collegues or people with designated authority. Initially this is good position to be in - we can observe, learn - and we are not taking much responsibility. It’s still on our side to commit to the decision which was made even if we don’t agree with it (I assume that there was a designated time to protest against it), but at the worst case it’s probably only annoying. At best, other people take away a lot of stress from our shoulders. It’s conveniant position to be in.

Somewhere later, as we grow, we want more decisive power. We want to steer, proove our competence, skill and experience. If company or organisation doesn’t give us opportunities for it, we may look for a place where we can finally enter the prooving grounds. Sometimes though, there are opportunities but we are blind to see them - we may be acting too slow, still rooted in behaviours from the past. This is however, a different topic.

As we will finally enter or create the environment, where we can make decisions, we will notice a couple of truths about them:

  • We almost never have all of the information we want to have;
  • Waiting for more information sometimes creates more costs over time (example - wasted opportunity) than making a bad decision;
  • Taking decisions, communicating them and aligning people takes a lot of energy;
  • Most of the decisions are revertable;
  • Many times your gut will give you the best advice;
  • Sometimes the best decision will be the one that nobody else will recommend, but you know it’s the right one;

Especially the last point requires a lot of courage and may be difficult to justify, communicate and align others with. What to do in such cases, when you are almost certain that you should do something, but you’re still on the fence? There is this old saying, which I’ve heard in “It’s your ship” and it goes like this:

You cannot go wrong, while doing the right thing.

But what is “the right thing”? You probably know it already, but to make it simpler, do the following exercise:

  • Imagine that the outcome of your decision will be displayed tomorrow in “New Your Times” article, on the first page.

Will you be proud of it? Or ashamed? Will you try to overexplain yourself, justify, or it won’t be even needed? Your gut already knows. Decide with alignment towards your integrity. Do the right thing.