Character Corner: Decisiveness — musings, quotes, and parenting tips from


Five year old Briana labored over small decisions, whether it was what to wear to school or which flavor of ice cream to eat.  She so wanted to choose the very best one that she bogged down.  When there was no hurry, she eventually made her choice, but when time was an issue, her indecision drove her parents nuts.


It added stress to the morning routine and all too often made the family late.  It had reached the point at times that both Briana and her mother were in tears.

Finally Briana’s parents had a heart-to-heart with her.  They explained that not all decisions are equally important and that even for important decision we often can’t be sure what is the best decision.  They told her that when she was grown up they wanted her to have the skill of giving some a lot of consideration and making others quickly, even if she wasn’t sure.

They told her it was ok to regret some decisions.  And they told her that –as part of her learning process–when her decision-time was causing problems for her or other people they would make her decision for her.  Briana was sad and angry, but also, it seemed, relieved.

From then on, when she bogged down, Mom or Dad would ask, “Are you ready to make a best guess or should we do it this time?”  Not only did it save the family sanity, but over time their routine helped Briana get a sense of how much time she could afford for different kinds of decisions.

What is decisiveness?

Decisiveness is the willingness to make decisions, even in the face of complexity or uncertainty. When we are decisive, we weigh the information that is available to us and we use our judgement to choose among the possibilities. It is easier to be decisive when we are clear about our values and goals.

Decisiveness means taking the risk that we may be wrong, but knowing that perfect clarity is rarely available and indecision can be costly. It also means taking responsibility for the outcome of the decision. Together, research, analysis and decisiveness get great things done. .

Five Quotes to contemplate, discuss and share.

We will never have all the facts to make a perfect judgment, but with the aid of basic experience we must leap bravely into the future.
–Russell McIntyre

Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson

In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
–Theodore Roosevelt

The perfect is the enemy of the good.

Have the courage of your knowledge and experience. If you have formed a conclusion from the facts and if you know your judgment is sound, act on it – even though others may hesitate or differ. You are neither right nor wrong because the crowd disagrees with you. You are right because your data and reasoning are right
– Benjamin Graham

Bringing it home to your kids

  1. Because our kids are constantly changing, they often are ready for more decision-making responsibility than we realize.  Pay attention to whether you are doing your kids’ mental work for them!
  2. Offer toddlers and preschoolers limited choices:  Would you rather have the red lollypop or the green one?  Would you rather wear this shirt or that one?  Even when they are older—in fact, even when they are teens– it’s ok for you to constrain the field of options.
  3. If your kids seem overwhelmed by a choice before them, try talking them through it.  But don’t be surprised if there are decisions they need you to make –even over and above their protests.
  4. Don’t harp about bad decisions. Harping can lead to resentment or decision paralysis.  Do ask about how your child would approach it next time, what they would do differently. But wait till you are both calm for this conversation.
  5. Do what you need to do to resolve any regrets about your own past decisions and move on. How you treat yourself is a powerful model for your kids.

Photo by: Sekaino Ai

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