Chief's Chat: Don't be afraid to make decisions

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Richard Coseglia
  • 403rd Operations Group

First, I’d like wish everyone a happy and healthy 2017. Last month I had the opportunity to speak to the 403rd Wing’s Human Resources Development Council. In this instance we were discussing the upcoming wing family day event scheduled for the May unit training assembly. As I was listening to the Airmen talk about fund raising, organizational processes and assigning tasks, it was mentioned that there were five months left to prepare. 


If I had hair on my head, it would’ve immediately stood up. 


Perception is reality. In this scenario the group perceived that they had five months to accomplish a task and if you looked on a calendar, that’s true. But I want you to think about that for a minute. Five months seems like a long time, roughly 150 days, right? I would submit there is a different reality. A traditional reservist generally reports for duty two days a month. The HRDC only meets once a month so now 150 days essentially turned into five. 


Let’s assume for the sake of this scenario that the decision was made to delay assigning specific duties and voting on fund raising efforts until the January UTA. A decision like this would cost the group 20 percent of their allotted time and significantly impact planning, workload and quite possibly the finished product. 


My advice to the group was twofold. First, understand the difference between calendar time and real, usable time because the disparity can be insurmountable. Second, always make decisions as you go rather than letting them accumulate. The point of this story is not to degrade the great things the HRDC accomplishes, but to show that not everyone views problems, projects, scenarios or duties through the same lens. 


Your decisions and thought processes can ultimately lead to your success or failure. Every successful leader goes through a series of self-evaluations. Some do this many times a day and it is a never-ending exercise. The start of a new year is a good time to look back and reflect upon our goals, our accomplishments and our failures of 2016. It is also a good time to reassess where we are as opposed to where we would like to be, identify what we did right, and develop new strategies for overcoming our failures. Success is dependent upon honest evaluation. 


Many successful leaders have made questionable decisions and you will be no different.  Leadership is not mistake free, it’s about how we recover from those mistakes. Acknowledge mistakes, take responsibility, come up with a different solution to the problem and execute to the best of your abilities. First, you must understand what is being asked of you and what the desired outcome is. Realize that someone believes in you and trusts that you will do your best to accomplish a common goal. You must accept that you are charged with making the decision, embrace the opportunity. Gather as much information on the subject as possible, keep an open mind and avoid bias and try to stay as objective as possible.  If you have some experience on the subject, draw from it. Utilize what worked and correct mistakes of the past. If you are a novice, reach out to those with more experience. There is a wealth of knowledge that surrounds you, find a good mentor. Set realistic goals and attainable deadlines. Don’t set yourself up for failure.  Never take the shortcut -- that path looks inviting but often turns into a dead end. 


My favorite saying is, “there is never enough time to do it right but always enough time to do it over.” Those who fall victim to the wrong path will soon find themselves starting over.  Remember, if it looks too good to be true … it probably is! Above all, don’t be afraid to make decisions; sometimes no decision is more harmful than the wrong decision.  Weigh the information you have and make the best decisions you can. No matter what the outcome, you have gained valuable experience.  Not every decision you make will be popular, stay true to yourself and the rest will work itself out.