Fortune Telling

How would you like to be clairvoyant? Think about how amazing it would be to see into the future. Maybe you could even take your act to Vegas or have a television program of your own. Well, I’m here to tell you that you can develop a strong sense of clairvoyance. And as an entrepreneur it will serve you well in your business endeavors and in your life.

What I’m really talking about is the ability to think several steps ahead – I call it logical sequencing. I have a theory that our thoughts and actions have a natural rhythm and follow a pattern of some kind. Understanding this rhythm or pattern enables us to predict what will follow in each step of the process. Assume the following simplistic example. A mother sees the cookie jar on a shelf in the kitchen and she also sees her small son looking at the cookie jar. She immediately concludes that her son is going to want a cookie. Based upon her past experience with the lad, this is a reasonable conclusion and he does not disappoint. He looks around and notices his mother is not in the room. He also knows that he just asked for a cookie a few minutes ago and was told he could not have one. The determined child is enterprising and drags a chair to the counter but realizes that he still can’t reach the shelf. Then he sees a large ball on floor and puts it on the chair presumably to provide an added boost to the cookie jar. You know the rest of the story.

The mother obviously knew that this scenario was not going to end well. We’ll also assume that she intervened to avoid a trip to the emergency room because she could predict the outcome with great certainty. Yes, this is an overly simplistic scenario, but it demonstrates the point I’m making. Now, let’s translate that into a more complex business situation.

Assume that we own a small manufacturing operation with 20 employees. We’ve had a problem with shrinkage – the copper that we use in our manufacturing process is disappearing. Our general manager has decided to crack down and conduct random frisks of employees at the end of each shift. He requires each employee to sign a consent form agreeing to this procedure. Will this solve the problem? Maybe. Could it cause other problems? Most likely. A logical sequencing approach might have allowed for a different solution that would not cause problems.

In our hypothetical example the general manager was simply reacting out of frustration to a serious issue. Instead, he would have been better served to create a decision tree. He would have realized that if he took Step A, he might expect Result A to ensue, which could then cascade to Result B and Result C. Result A might have been all of the employees feeling that they are being unfairly accused of being dishonest. Result B might have been a growing resentment by the employees of the GM, and Result C might have been five of the employees quitting because they don’t want to work for a company that doesn’t trust them.

By using a logical sequencing process and creating a decision tree, we can anticipate the politics of a situation; how people are likely to feel about certain actions, and what the impact of our decisions might be. As entrepreneurs we may make such decisions in a reactive or expeditious manner without fully exploring how the various ramifications may unfold. As you read this you may be thinking, “Master of the Obvious!” But you would be amazed at how many decisions are made in society today where little or no thought is given to the ultimate outcome.

When we adopt a calm and measured approach to making decisions and taking action, we have a greater chance to succeed. Using logical sequencing to predict outcomes can greatly support this process.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.


What to Do?

Question: Lately I’ve been faced with some tough decisions. I struggle in this department. How can I make this easier?

Answer: Entrepreneurs by definition have to make a lot of hard decisions. Do we add a new product line or not? Should we raise our prices? Should we fire a client? Can we afford to buy a new piece of expensive equipment? All of these decisions are weighty for a reason. They could have adverse consequences if we’re wrong about what we decide.

Life is full of tough calls. Whether in our business or personal lives one factor that makes decisions hard is a little thing called emotion. The more we can eliminate emotion from our decision making process, the more likely we will be to turn the tough call into the right call. Without emotion we can then turn to a factual approach in this process.

Something that has worked for me over the years has been the use of a decision tree. When I have to make a complex or difficult decision I draw one or more lines down the page. At the top of each column I write a decision that I could make to address a particular situation. There might be two or three possibilities – maybe even more. From each decision I draw lines with boxes underneath. We all know that when decisions are made there are consequences. These boxes contain the consequences. By laying out all of the decisions and the various potential consequences I am able to assess the probability of outcomes and determine which yield the best result with the lowest risk. Doing this insures that emotion remains on the sideline.

Some people say, “Follow your gut instincts.” So you may ask, isn’t gut instinct an emotion? Actually gut instinct is the result of experience. There’s no such thing as pure gut instinct that isn’t based on some level of experience. And this experience can be developed by making decisions over and over utilizing facts and decision trees. Eventually you just know what to decide because you’ve done it so many times. But a strong factual foundation was laid early on.

We can all make the tough decisions with ease when we take the emotion out of the equation. By turning to an examination of the facts we are able to logically figure out what steps to take. And after we do this long and often enough, we develop strong instincts that enable us to act quickly and decisively.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.