One Habit to Consistently Make Great Decisions

One Habit to Consistently Make Great Decisions image DATE: January 14, 2020

Hey leaders, managers, moms, dads, teachers, coaches — whoever you are, whenever you’re struggling to make great decisions… If you want to make great decisions consistently, here’s one habit you should be practicing. Here’s a story to illustrate the point.

Struggling to Make Great Decisions?

In a previous life I was formally trained as a professional baseball umpire. (At umpire school they taught us 5 decision making tools so practical I’ve used them for 40 years! Here are the 5 tools.

I’ve umpired hundreds of baseball games in my former life. And I was pretty darn good, too! Good, yes. But unfortunately, not great. And I knew why.

Pitches around the corners!

The fact is umpires will see two to three hundred pitches every game — 90 to 95% of them are no brainers.

Pitches that batter swings at? Those are obvious to everyone. Pitches down the middle? Piece of cake. Pitches in the dirt or pitches up in the batter’s eyes? Anyone could make those calls.

But pitches on or around the corners? Those 5 to 10% of the calls tend to separate simply good umpires from the great ones.

And unfortunately, I struggled with pitches around the corners. And that ate at me.

See, my goal was not be just a good … average … or acceptable umpire. I wanted to be a GREAT umpire. And I knew I needed help.

An Expert’s Advice to Make Great Decisions

Jack was a well-respected umpire with many seasons to his credit. So I tracked him down and he agreed to meet with me. He listened patiently as I went on and on about positioning, timing, mechanics and the like. Finally, I reached the climax in my personal quest for umpiring clarity.

“Jack,” I almost pleaded, “please tell me once and for all, these corner pitches — are they balls or are they strikes?”

I remember Jack paused and smiled, before stating flatly, “It doesn’t matter.”

What! I couldn’t believe my ears! It doesn’t matter?! Had he not been paying attention to me? I had just bared my soul. I’m getting my butt chewed with great regularity out there. And somehow that doesn’t matter?! Well it matters to me!

But before I could articulate my building frustration, Jack added his final observation.

“Phil, it doesn’t really matter because of who YOU are. Remember, you’re the umpire — the decision maker! That pitch — ultimately, it’s whatever you say it is!”

Then he paused — I think for effect — before adding,

“Phil, what’s far more important than whether a pitch around the corner is a ball or a strike, is that you call that pitch the same way — all the time!

“Remember, when you’re consistently consistent, people will adapt and adjust their behavior to yours.”

One Habit to Consistently Make Great Decisions

And there you have it. If you’re worried about making perfect decisions — don’t. But if you must worry — worry about being consistent instead.

Ultimately, I wanted to be perfect. But… perfection is a myth; consistency is a mindset.

In the course of your career, your life — like any good umpire — you’re bound to make hundreds, thousands, even hundreds of thousands of independent decisions. The majority of these will go unnoticed, unmentioned and probably unappreciated by almost everyone.


Because GOOD leaders are expected to make good, basic decisions — that’s our job.

But the majority of people will accept decisions GREAT leaders make — even questionable decisions or decisions with which they might personally disagree IF that great leader has developed a commitment to consistency. A habit practiced day in and day out — regardless the situation — regardless who is involved — in every circumstance encountered.

It’s really pretty simple.

Great leadership reputations are NOT built by being perfect at the “plate” — the straightforward, obvious calls.

Great leadership reputations are built by being consistent around the corners.

#makegreatdecisions #umpireschool #perfectionisamyth #consistency #consistencyisamindset #consistentlyconsistent

Like what you’re reading? Subscribe here to get our blog delivered to your inbox AND get our bonus welcome gift!

About The Author:

Phillip Van Hooser, CSP, CPAE is committed to helping organizations transform their business outcomes by building engaged employee relationships. He is an award-winning keynote speaker and author on engaged leadership and communication. His most recent book is “Earning The Right To Be Heard," a primer for creating greater influence and opportunities. Connect with Phil on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Recent Posts