Decisiveness vs. procrastination

The ability to recognize key factors and finalize difficult decisions.

Decisiveness is the ability to cut quickly to the heart of a matter. It involves getting to the fundamental issues and making a clear, concrete call. Decisiveness knows what facts are important to consider in making a decision, knowing the right decision to make and taking responsibility to see that decision through to completion.

This character quality is locally emphasized by the first responders to the Weber Canyon fire and through the ongoing efforts to save life and property. There is much more to decision-making than what takes place in the few moments surrounding the decision. A lifetime of preparation may lead up to that decision. Moral and intellectual preparation are both important, foundational ingredients for decisiveness. The qualities of a clear conscience, upright character and thorough knowledge are a vital foundation for someone’s ability to discern which facts are important, which are not, and to make a sound decision.

A good decision-maker is an aggressive information collector. As a military decision-maker, General George S. Patton answered a critic of his “snap decisions”:“When a surgeon decides in the course of an operation to change its objective, to splice that artery or cut deeper and remove another organ which he finds infected, he is not making a snap decision but one based on knowledge, experience, and training. So am I.” Many of the decisions Patton based on the lessons he learned from yesteryear resulted in success.

Pointing to history and the fundamentals of learning, World War II Gen. Omar Bradley explained that information is collected bit by bit. “You hear some of it over the phone; you see some of it on the map, in what you read, in briefings. It is all stored in your mind, and then suddenly you are faced with a decision. You don’t go back and pick up each one of the pieces of information, but you run over the main items that are involved and the answer comes out, like when you push the button on a computer.”Though stored knowledge is not always consciously recalled, information studied in the past will help to shape present decisions. A good decision-maker collects information, a valuable commodity for decisiveness.

At home, help your children accumulate information they can use when making decisions. Read aloud biographies of worthy role models like Booker T. Washington, Johann Sebastian Bach or Florence Nightingale, and discuss whether these people made decisions based on what would be easiest or what would be right.

Brought to you by the Four Corners Character Council. Character First! Definitions and information used by permission. Copyright Character First Training Institute.

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