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Avoiding Mistakes

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Following is a post from guest blogger Phil Paige, long time district administrator now serving as a consultant to the Floyd County Schools.

How can you avoid mistakes? Interesting question. I'm assuming you're still planning on going to work? Okay, that makes it a little more difficult.

Let's start with what you already know. You're going to make some mistakes. It's inevitable. Mistakes are made through either action or inaction and that pretty much sums up your options.

Mistakes are the by-product of decisions and the best way to reduce faulty decisions is to have an effective decision making process. Again, I said reduce, not eliminate.

Let's start out with three principles that can help guide you through any decision making process.

· It's not luck that determines your success; it's the quality of your decisions.

· Understand you're accountable for the decisions you make. You own your calls.

· Decisiveness is a characteristic of a leader.

Now that we have our decision parameters, let's talk about a process for making decisions:

  • Know your history . Learn the history or regret making the same mistakes others made. Too many folks believe history starts when they arrive. That's not just short-sighted; that's risky thinking.
  • Assemble the facts . Not opinion driven facts. We're talking facts about which everyone can agree. The opinion stuff will come because decision making is more than what you know or you need to know and keep in mind that while you need enough, you don't need everything.
  • Get input . This comes from your inner circle or folks whose opinions really matter to you. If those opinions are markedly differ from what you believe, it doesn't mean that you should stop but slowing down and doing some more thinking might be a good idea.
  • Make the call . Consider three things. Your knowledge about the issue being decided; your principles and values; and the law. That last one's sort of important too.
  • The communication plan . Again, this is where your inner circle proves invaluable. Those folks often have the day to day contact with others that helps get the message out effectively and brings others to what you want to do.
  • Light that candle . Time to launch. Understand that the majority of your folks won't really get on board with your decision until they see the benefits of the changes your decision has made. Yes, unfortunately, most of the world sits on the fence. You don't and that's why you're a leader.

Last point. Someone once wrote, "My most common mistake is thinking my last decision was correct." That's worth keeping in mind, don't you think?

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