Tough choices are sometimes easy when the time is right

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There was no blog entry yesterday, as I made calls to everyone in the organization to share news of a decision I had made less than eight hours previously. I described how the decision would impact each individual personally, the consequences and likely effects on their lives. I didn’t sugarcoat the news — it was generally something no one wanted to hear — but it wasn’t entirely unexpected (though for some the timing may have seemed rather abrupt.)

Late last night, after going out on a purely pleasurable (and for us that means quite intellectual) date with my wife, I sat at this computer and reviewed the key data that validated the decision. I hadn’t seen the numbers like this in the business history and they would have been significantly more disturbing (they were posted in the afternoon) if I hadn’t made the decision.

Faced with blunt trauma, I pushed the button that reshaped the story.

Could I have made it earlier, or later? Yes, and that in fact shaped the choice. It took just 30 minutes on the phone with a¬†specialized consultant to understand the rules, processes, general circumstances, and implications of my choice. Indeed, I was acting quite a bit earlier than most people in the same situation would do — they would defer and defer and things would just get worse. If¬†I had made the same choice just a few months earlier, the news (with 20-20 hindsight) might have been far better for me. But often things are never certain and it seemed wrong to make the tough choices then.

(You can’t time everything in business or life perfectly, though sometimes you have luck in perfect timing.)

You’ll notice I’m not going into specific details here about the decision and its consequences. There are good reasons for not making the entire story public now and, at least as things are at the moment, it has several moving parts in its implementation that will require upwards of six months to a year to complete. I know it complies with the law, is ethical and honorable, and requires quite a bit of personal sacrifice (though not making the decision would have dramatically increased my sacrifice and risk.)

I cannot say yet how happy the end story will be. But I’m thankful that I can decide and when I really need to take action, can be decisive. This is the story of business and life.

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