Decisive Action or Not, Here It Comes


Decisive action is essential. Yet, some of us freeze in place when making decisions. We either over-analyze our situation or don’t know where to start. Some of us unrealistically wait for the perfect choice that never comes. Eventually, we must act, or decisions will be made for us. Therefore, what does decisive action look like?

Consider the story below. In it, my Brother-in-law, Garrison, makes a 10-20 second decisive action to rescue his keys before it’s too late. No words between him and I exchange because he chose to immediately act. Here’s the story:

Between two docked boats, his keys fall into the water. Instantly, Garrison and I look at one another with horror in our eyes. Our faces study each other seemingly forever. Both of us appear frozen from the shock of his keys falling below. Before either of us can say anything, Garrison breaks free from our shock and plunges into the lake.

Literally, he risks injury to himself as he slithers between the dock and the boat to enter the dark, murky lake. Water that looks to be blended with mud, oil, and other nasty ingredients. Fortunately, the liquid results are from the boat dock’s roof disallowing the sun to shine into the lake and nothing more.

Disappearing into the water, I grab towels to dry him off. I reach for a life preserver for his safety; I ready my cell phone to call for emergency medical services. Either way, I’m ready to respond, yet I stand there and wait.

Just when I’m ready to act, the calm water is disturbed by Garrison’s hand breaking through the surface. Surprised, I see his lost keys, held up above the water, raised in his hand, signaling victory.

As I take in the moment, Garrison continues to rise from the water with a simultaneous look of disbelief and accomplishment on his face. Looks that are coupled with bewilderment in his eyes but joy in his smile. Dripping with lake water, I offer him a towel; he politely rejects it, stares down at the dock’s metal floor, and ponders the last few seconds.

Shaking his head, Garrison laughs at the fast and successful events. I continue to look at him and wait to support him further. Finally, he raises his head, and our eyes meet. No longer do his eyes hold shock. Instead, they communicate wonder that matches an even bigger smile than when he emerged from the lake.

In reply, I smile one of my life’s biggest smiles too. Without saying a word, we meet another to hug and acknowledge that we shared a unique experience together. After our hug, now I’m wet too, but the bond together is too great to care.

Few circumstances are exempt from decisive actions. Personal, professional, minor, or significant are all included. Some things in life need careful analysis, but far too many of us either over-analyze or fail to act. How then will you react?

Remember, Garrison didn’t have a lot of time to decide and react. Reflexively, he responded and retrieved the keys. His margin of error was slim, and his rate of success was more narrow. Yet, Garrison didn’t debate, didn’t freeze, and worry about failure.He acted and as a result we share a unique memory together.

Let’s be more decisive. Not all of our choices will be right, but with experience, our decision-making will learn and improve. If not, choices will be made for us by our lack of decisions, which is a decision itself. Therefore, choose with intention and discover deeper bonds and better results than ever before.