Aug 15

It’s not being wrong or right that counts

I read Terry Pratchett’s excellent book, Truckers, about a bunch of adventuring gnomes, back probably in 1989. There was a line about leadership that has stayed with me all these years –

It’s not being wrong or right that counts. It’s being certain.

Having directed a decent chunk of children’s television, I can really appreciate just how true it is.

There is always a temptation to torture over decisions. Go back. And forth. Back. And forth. Making lists of pros and cons, revising that list. Making a new list. Many seem determined to put off a decision. Let’s come back to this one fresh later. On other occasions, people give the decisions away. That’s a call the broadcaster/distributor/whoever will have to make. Often going up the chain, which is odd because it usually means handing the decision to someone with less time to consider it, with probably less knowledge of how the choices even arose and who have far more important things to worry about.

So why torture over a decision? Why delay it? Hand it off? Usually it’s simple ‘ the fear of choosing incorrectly. Like choosing the wrong grail at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Everlasting life or a hideous, hideous death.

But here’s the thing – the reality is that most small decisions made every day on a project actually will have very little effect on the finished product. They’re just details. On BIG decisions, if you know what you’re doing at all, you’ve usually you’ve thought about it enough that you’ve already got it down to several great options for which there really is no definitive right option. They could all be right.

Different, but right in their own way.

No hideous, hideous death after all.

When it comes down to it, you’ve just got to call it. Just choose. Definitively – be certain, so you can move on. There are too many choices in a day to spend lots of time on one that will never result in a hideous, hideous death. If you’ve got it down to a few choices and it’s that difficult to choose between them, chances are they’re all good. Just call it. It is more dangerous to let decisions happen around you, or to wait until it’s too late, or to second-guess your project into oblivion.

Seems to me that the people doing well usually get there not by always making the right decisions. But by just having the courage to actually make the decisions at all.

As those wise gnomes realised – It’s not being wrong or right that counts. It’s being certain.

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