More Information, Better Decisions?

indecision man

Years ago I took a job in a large radio market, as the Program Director of the most successful radio station in the city. In less than three weeks, I knew the job was a mistake.

The business was dysfunctional, because the person who hired me was mentally ill. He was a psychological maelstrom, and inexorably pulled everyone and everything around him into the battles that raged inside his own besieged mind. He was both hated and feared by his staff.

Even though I knew I should not have taken the job, and that I needed to find a new one as fast as possible, I convinced myself to wait. I had already invested a lot of money, time, and energy into moving my family to this new city. I told myself we would make it work.

As the months rolled by, I became more and more miserable, and so did my family. I became physically ill as a result of all the stress. But I kept waiting to make the tough decision.

I talked to friends at other stations, I sought advice from my mentors, I learned all I could about the structure of our company, and even read books on how to work for difficult people. I kept gathering more and more information, convinced that somehow if I simply knew more, my situation would change.

After nine months, I decided to get a new job. It happened very rapidly, and a few weeks later we moved 1,800 miles across country to the place that would become my home.

Now, why did I tell you this story? Simple…

I knew what the right decision was less than 21 days after arriving at that miserable job. But it took me nine months to finally get the guts to follow through on that decision. The more information I gathered, the more I waited, the harder it was to decide.

In the end, more information does not usually lead to better decisions. But it can delay the making of hard decisions. And the cost of that delay is something that is difficult, if not impossible, to calculate.