How decisions create confidence (even if they scare the heck out of you)

Sunrise

Stuck

In 2016 I was feeling pretty stuck. Over the previous 4 years I had spent thousands of dollars taking online courses on topics including programming, business and marketing.

Even though I actually went through most of these courses in detail…

…there was always another course I had to do before I would be ready to implement. Another guru to listen to.

I realised I was at a crossroads. I had wanted to start a business of my own for as long as I can remember but there were always excuses.

Here I was, 43 years old and my results were telling me that what I really wanted was the safety of an anonymous job in a large corporation. I was afraid of what might happen if I should fail on my own.

The truth of the situation was staring me in the face.

But we can all get pretty creative when we are looking for an escape hatch can’t we?

So I came up with plenty of rational reasons why I hadn’t done anything of merit. I used my family, my finances, lack of time, fatigue and who or whatever else I could find to justify my inaction. Only every now and then did I admit that what I really felt was a lack of confidence in myself.

Instead I would kid myself with the illusion of progress toward my goal by taking another course. Buying a quick fix solution that promised to do the hard work for me.

That’s when Sam (my wife) gave me a note on a pink Post-It® that I have been carrying around in my wallet ever since.

You are only one decision away Post-it
You are only one decision away from a totally different life. Make a date!!!Sam

Talk about a bucket of ice cold water over the head. This was it for me.

Now we don’t always make decisions that can totally change the direction in our lives but in 2017 I did. It was to resign my role as a well paid engineer within a global corporation so that my only option was to take massive action on building a successful business.

Buy why on earth do that? Sounds a bit reckless right? Why not start something on the side and work up to it?

This is what I had been telling myself I was doing for the previous 12 years and yet I had no side business to show for it. That is apart from some home equity, the support of my family and one other thing.

Decision

My decision to resign may never have happened if not for this pink Post-It® note.

Whatever possessed Sam to write this note to me on that day I can’t remember now but it made a huge and lasting impact on me. So I kept it in my wallet and continued to go to work for several more months…

…and something slowly began to change. I started taking a few tiny steps. I discussed the idea and options with Sam at our weekly coffee stop. It was one of these days that I threw out the idea of actually resigning, even though I still had no source of side income or work.

How could we support our family of five if I didn’t have a job?

That’s when I had the idea of releasing the equity in our home to self-fund starting a business. I suggested the idea to Sam and to my great surprise she agreed!

Now I was really in a pickle and feeling the pressure. The decision was made in this moment. Now the exact date wasn’t yet set with some logistics to sort through but the main point is that…

…once the decision was made, the plan began to evolve rapidly.

Confidence

Each concrete step towards executing the plan revealed additional detail and information required for the next step. Once my wife and family were in our new home in another state I knew there was no turning back from there.

I eventually sold our home and once the transaction was unconditional I handed in my resignation with confidence. It was simply the next logical step in fulfilling a decision made five months earlier.

One month later, I attended my last day of work and left the safety of full time employment for the adventure of starting my own business.

People said to me “it was a ballsy move” to do what I was doing. I’m sure they were actually thinking I must be mad but the point of this story is that…

…when there is no turning back from a decision you attract confidence and the plans to make it happen.

It’s like going parachuting.

When you take off in the aeroplane, there’s an escape hatch. You can still change your mind at the last minute and sit it out. Once you have taken the plunge, however, you will do whatever it takes to pull that rip cord, inflate that chute and land safely, won’t you? Yes, that’s right. Safely.

Just because you jump out of a plane does not mean you don’t reduce risks wherever you can and avoid putting yourself in harm’s way. I am not advocating recklessness here. Just mastery over our perception of what is safe and unsafe.

We all have a tendency when making decisions to keep our options open, don’t we?

I’ve even witnessed someone resign from their job and then return a few days later because their new job wasn’t what they expected.

Yet there comes a point where the cost or possibility of going back becomes unacceptable. That’s when you know there is only one choice. No turning back. Do the thing you said you were going to do with no excuses.

When the actual consequences of shirking or flipping our decisions are too great to accept you eliminate a lot of useless churn in your thinking. That is the churn of indecision and it can paralyse you.

Suppose you are rock climbing and are half-way up a sheer cliff face. You have clarity of purpose. Your decision to climb has already been made. Now your next steps are clear. But this is only a perception inside of your mind.

But we have some control about how we choose to perceive the world don’t we?

It’s like a scene in cult-movie “The Matrix” when Morpheus and Neo engage in an exciting sparring match in the computer generated virtual reality of the matrix. After Neo has taken a beating and is exhausted and struggling for breath Morpheus asks him “Do you think that’s air you’re breathing?”

It’s not often that circumstances provide us with the stakes that demand strong decisions and confident actions to avert disaster. Yet tales of heroism abound from when people are thrown into the brink.

We can choose to alter our perception of what is really at stake and then make decisions and take actions that show how much it means to you. Let’s take for example our own personal brand.

Personal Brand

So it was last night I sat in a crowd of business people at an event hosted by Dent Live at Cloudland in Brisbane. Linzi Boyd delivered a talk about Brand and asked everyone in the room to commit to do something to build their personal brand today. Everyone was involved. My promise was to write and publish a post and then share it on LinkedIn today.

Today the reality hit home of what I had promised….but I remembered the note in my wallet and the power of decision. It was my personal brand on the line today and what it means to me.

Everyday you get to make decisions that can lead you to a totally different life.

Making daily decisions that move you closer toward your goal, with no escape hatch, is the key to building your confidence and your brand. By taking the leap from the aeroplane with only a parachute between you and certain death your next actions become clear, unambiguous and obvious.

It’s 11.26pm now so this will have to do because I made a decision yesterday that I was pulling this rip cord today and my word is my brand.

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3 Comments on “How decisions create confidence (even if they scare the heck out of you)”

  1. Hi Matt,
    Great to be in touch once more. Great article. I can really relate to what you have gone through and can only reaffirm the importance of self discovery and understanding of your own personal brand, something that I took for granted but have only just realised after leaving the sheltered life of the large corporate environment.

    1. Great to catch up with you Rod. I’ll be writing articles at least once a week along similar topics and adding an email newsletter this week. Talk soon.

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