The key to making better decisions is making less decisions.

To clarify, that doesn’t necessarily mean making fewer decisions.

It means increasing the time you deliberate on important decisions by reducing the time you’re distracted by trivial decisions.

At 24 years of age Cameron Schwab was appointed the CEO of the Richmond Football Club (AFL), becoming the youngest CEO in the history of the modern game. I was fortunate enough to interview him for my podcast Phone Calls With Clever People. He told me:

If you’re doing the job properly as a leader, you’re always dealing with the most ambiguous issues. If you’re not, then you’ll become controlling. The best use of you is dealing with the tough stuff.

Dealing with the tough stuff takes time and energy, two resources that are in short supply when we’re decision fatigued. If we’re consistently pulled down into incidental decisions, we rob ourselves of the capacity to weigh in fully on the consequential ones.

Your most important decisions deserve your highest level of attention

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As your seniority in leadership increases, so too should the complexity and ambiguity of of the problems you deal with.

It’s one of the reasons former U.S President Barak Obama chose to only wear grey or blue suits. He shared why in an interview with Vanity Fair:

You need to remove from your life the day-to-day problems that absorb most people for meaningful parts of their day. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.

The decisions that matter most are the decisions that only you can make

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For all the other decisions ask yourself:

1. What decisions can I eliminate?

  • How do I remove options?
  • Get rid of it

2. What decisions can I automate?

  • How do I implement systems?
  • Get tools for it

3. What decisions can I delegate?

  • How do I empower others?
  • Get people for it

4. What decisions can I initiate?

  • How do I pre-empt my actions?
  • Get a plan for it

A question to reflect on:
“In my role as a leader, what are the decisions that only I can make?”