Two Habits of Wise Decision Makers

Exercising Humility & Courage
Written by Dave Anderson on Dec 28, 2017
Two Habits of Wise Decision Makers

There is a reason a teenager’s car insurance payment is double that of older drivers! We don’t come out of the womb as wise decision makers. 

Let’s face it. We are where we are in life because of the decisions we make. Some people have lives and careers full of regrets. Yet some people seem to gain wisdom and become better at making decisions. Why them and not us? What have those wise decision makers learned that the rest of us have missed? 

Two Habits of Character of Wise Decision Makers

Everyone makes decisions that we later regret. They could be decisions that were personal, in relationships, or at work. But, as I read and study the biographies of great leaders, and I observe great parents, great spouses, and great business leaders, I see a pattern develop in their lives.

These wise decision makers exercise Humility and Courage more consistently than the rest of us. As a result of consistently exercising Humility and Courage, these leaders have fewer regrets and more success than other people.

Exercising Humility – Get Counsel

The interesting thing about wise decision makers is they don’t act like they believe they are wise. They consistently ask other for advice or solicit opinions from others. They ask more questions and make fewer statements.

But one of their keys to success is they are selective in their advisors. A person who solicits advice from everyone, will be more confused and may never make a decision. The wise decision maker finds a handful of wise people to be their inner circle of advisors. 

These advisors have the character to speak the truth even if the decision maker may not like the answer. They will speak with candor because they care about the success of the decision maker.

These advisors also have the experience to speak from a position of wisdom and not just from speculation. The best advisors are people who have already walked the path the decision maker is on. If they are on the same path, or have never walked the path, we shouldn’t expect them to know what is around the next corner.

Exercising Courage – Make a Decision

A wise decision maker does not become a wise decision maker without having the Courage to actually make a decision. Too many people, will seek perfect solutions before they commit to making a decision. This is why so many meetings and organizations are stuck in “paralysis through analysis”.

At a certain point, the decision maker must make a decision – even if she is not sure of the outcome. The wise desision maker asks questions, analyzes potential solutions, and makes a decision. She understands that not making a decision is a decision.

When the decision maker won’t step forward and decide, teams, organizations, and families are all put on hold. Uncertainty becomes a constant companion. That is when stagnation occurs, anxiety and stress increases, and leaders lose the commitment of the followers.

The Bottom Line:

None of us will be right 100% of the time. To gain wisdom, we have to learn through experience. Unfortunately, most of us would agree that we learned more by making poor decisions than we did when we make the right ones.

It takes Humility to realize there is more wisdom in a select group of advisors than their is within our own heads. It takes Courage to make a decision and then adapt to the results rather than waiting indefinitely for a solution that will provide perfect results. 

The wise decision makers don’t believe they have all the answers inside of themselves. But they do believe that they are responsible for making the hard decisions with incomplete information. The Humility and the Courage that these leaders display in those moments make them the Leaders of Character companies, work teams, and families want to follow.


What decision is looming on the horizon for you? Who is your inner circle of wise advisors? When will you make a decision?


By Dave Anderson

Dave Anderson is coauthor of Becoming a Leader of Character – Six Habits that Make or Break a Leader at Work and at Home with his father General James L. Anderson (USA Retired).

Photo courtesy of author