“You don’t get one choice, conscious choice means you make a decision and then based on what happens, you get to decide again” – Fiona Pearman
To thrive in the fast-paced modern workplace, embracing Conscious Choice is essential. This approach not only streamlines decision-making but also fosters clarity, confidence, and productivity.
Confidence & Conscious Choice
Confidence is enhanced when we are self-aware and making conscious choices. Quite often we are operating on autopilot and assuming we have little or no choice – but is that really true?
The more you take the time to be consciously aware of what you are choosing, the more empowered you feel. By making choices aligned with who you are, you tap into your confidence and ensure you have agency.
By being intentional and self-aware about your choices, even when you choose to say Yes, when you’d rather say No, for example, when you pick up an extra piece of work for a colleague, you’re able to own that decision and do it with grace, because it was a conscious decision. The awareness of your power in all situations ensures you feel confident and grounded, rather than the victim of circumstances or simply acting from default.
The Benefits of Conscious Choice
Remember the last time you avoided making a choice about something – what happened?
Usually you feel frustrated or angry that things turned out this way, or nothing changed and you wish that you’d had the courage to decide and take action on what you wanted. Harvard Business Review recognises that, “the key is to shift from simply reacting to making a conscious choice.”
Becoming really conscious about what you are choosing creates lots of upsides:
Time – you’ll save so much time because you won’t be procrastinating and then you’ll save even more time because you’ll make progress towards your goals far more quickly
Energy – too much energy is wasted in vacillating and indecision – conscious choice conserves emotional, mental and ultimately physical energy
Certainty – consciously choosing means you avoid the endless second guessing yourself; you know what you’ve chosen and why
Agency – you’ve taken responsibility for yourself and that means you experience more freedom and are the driver of your own destiny
Not Choosing is Choosing, the Cost of Indecision
While not choosing can feel pretty innocuous, there’s big costs when you’re indecisive:
Keeps you stuck and unclear – the cost of this is inaction, and over a number of months, let alone years there’s a compounding effect. What starts as a confidence gap (a reluctance to commit to a decision) ends up being a competence gap – because others are facing into the choices, taking conscious action and learning as they go. They are expanding their knowledge, awareness and ability to deal with challenges, while not choosing means you stay stuck, stagnant and have less experience.
Leads to unintended consequences – when you don’t consciously choose, things happen anyway, others make choices based on the information they have. A client told the story of how she was unsure about applying for a new role, and rather than taking a risk and giving it a go, she took too long thinking about all the possible outcomes. In the meantime, her leader took her indecision as an indication of less commitment and chose someone else for the role. Her regret and frustration was made worse, because she knew it was her own indecision that led to the outcome.
Tendency to blame others / circumstances etc – it’s worth noticing when things don’t go your way, or turn out as you’d expected. What do you think and say? Do you blame others for not giving you a chance, or appreciating your efforts? Do you think, well it wasn’t meant to be, I didn’t really want it. Yet underneath you wish you’d had the courage to take action? The thing about conscious choice is you’re always in charge, you get to decide and to live with the results.
Often we don’t choose because we are fearful to trust ourselves, to take that level of self-responsibility; conscious choice means I am willing to face the risk, the fear and the unknown. From a place of clarity, you make a decision, with all the knowledge you have. Then you celebrate if it works out and compassionately adapt and choose again if it doesn’t (without beating yourself up, you appreciate what you’ve learnt). Because there’s never only one choice; the truth is you get to decide and then you get to decide again.Watch Kate and Fiona’s recent FB Live on this topic here.
Conscious Choice as a Leadership Skill
People follow and want to emulate leaders who provide clarity and direction. Leaders who are decisive provide a path through challenging or uncertain circumstances; they are willing to make decisions based on the information they have available and are willing to face the current reality of the situation rather than hoping or wishing things will improve.
Leaders who are self-aware and prepared to weigh up the risks, to be adaptive and innovative are more likely to be recognised for their contribution. Taking a stand, making a call, choosing one path over another ensures you are taking the action expected as a leader.
McKinsey identifies that, “When a business leader chooses growth, that choice begins to shape behaviour, mindset, risk appetite, and investment decisions, creating a growth orientation across the organisation.”
Leaders who consciously choose the path forward, and then communicate that path and the reasons why it matters are demonstrating the qualities necessary at senior levels and are also role modelling this behaviours for their teams.
How to enhance conscious choice in leadership:
- Prioritise self-awareness. This includes investing in your personal and professional development so that you can see multiple perspectives and have the critical thinking skills necessary to make decisions.
- Include others. Ask for input and feedback from others, so you have as much information as possible to make an informed and conscious choice. Evaluate input and ultimately choose and communicate your rationale.
- Take responsibility. Avoiding making a decision may feel less risky (maybe you’re thinking that you’re not so accountable if things go wrong), however the ability to take responsibility, own your conscious choice and be accountable is essential to being a leader.
- Take action. Be decisive and take others on the journey with you, explaining your thinking and why you have chosen this path. Based on what occurs, what you learn, be prepared to change if new information comes to light, and again clearly explain this.
As your career advances there will be many opportunities every day to make decisions, by expanding your ability to make conscious choices, you are able to exercise leadership, be a role model for others and advance the strategic objectives of your organisation.
For more information on how your organisation can support teams or individuals in making conscious choices please reach out via firstname.lastname@example.org.
For individuals who’d like to explore this topic further, book a 15 minute Confidence Breakthrough Call.