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Decision Remorse – The Buyer’s Remorse of Leadership

I remember talking with a young leader. He had recently made a pretty major decision for his organization. He had prayed about it. He had consulted wise counsel. He acted methodically. In fact, I had personally walked with him through the process of change management and was impressed with the way he handled things. I felt he had made a good decision for the organization.

The decision was made. He communicated it to key leaders. The steps were in place to move forward.

Then reality sank in for this leader. 

It was a big decision – perhaps the biggest change he had ever made as a leader. This decision would alter things for years to come. People would be greatly impacted by this decision.

As the reality set in that this was really happening his mind started to play tricks with him. He questioned himself.

What if I made the wrong decision?
What if there was a better decision.
What if I was wrong?

He began to panic.

I was glad we were still talking at this point in the process. I was able to share with him a principle I learned years ago in leadership.

Sometimes we suffer from decision remorse.

Just like buyers remorse – what happens when you buy something and then temporarily wish you hadn’t – leaders often suffer from decision remorse. With every major decision in life or leadership, decision remorse is a possibility.

It’s a temporary setback. A momentary lapse in assurance develops. A gut check of reality makes you question your decision. The good news for him was that it can be natural to question yourself at this point. You’ve invested a lot of energy on a major decision and now you are faced with making it happen.

My words to him and my words to you is to trust the process. Trust your instinct. Trust the system of decision-making you used.

Don’t allow decision remorse to keep you from celebrating the joy of what’s to come.

This doesn’t mean you don’t evaluate. It doesn’t mean you won’t make bad decisions. But, if you strategically and methodically made the decision, now is the time to implement.

Have you ever struggled with decision remorse?

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • Ron, thanks for sharing this post.

    I really appreciate and believe in your statement, "Trust the process. Trust your instinct. Trust the system of decision-making you used." I agree that we do need to "trust" the process, instinct, and system we have in place.

    Tough decisions are hard because they are tough decisions. And, they probably should be hard.

    As leaders, it is important that we trust the process we have set up and hope (and pray) that everything works out.

    Thanks for sharing your insights and thoughts on decisions.

  • kwillkom says:

    I've definitely seen this take shape in my life! I think we all have. Sometimes we need to recognize that we cannot always make the right decisions, but we can always work to make our choices the right ones. Moving forward with confidence is not always easy, but it is definitely necessary.

  • bryankr

    When dealing with the remorse, I often wonder why I even have the ability to decide! When dealing with others who are going through it, I am impressed with them. The remorse shows they care. It tells of their commitment to do more than " just enought". It bespeaks of their willingness to do their best. I would be greatly concerned if they make a decision of this nature and not have remorse!