A Process for Effective Decision Making - Work In Sports Podcast

Hey everybody, I’m Brian Clapp, VP of Content and Engaged Learning for WorkInSports.com and this is the Work In Sports podcast…

In case you weren’t sure...2020 is still a massive kick to the you know whats. Rest in Power Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a champion of equality for all people, and the rule of law. 

For everyone dealing with wildfires, hurricanes, and our global pandemic, please stay safe - this is a time for diligence, not complacency. I know we all want to get back to normal, but right now that just isn’t our reality...so be safe and be smart, care for your fellow citizens. 

Before we get started with today’s question -- we have a new segment -- I like to call it 

The Stat Line

I get asked just about every day about the state of the sports industry --- so we’re going to give you a quick update each week based on our data at WorkInSports.com - in case you didn’t know, we’re the leading job board in the sports industry and have been for a little over 20 years. 

The Stat Line will consist of at least three valuable data points for you -- 

How many jobs are currently in our database. Whether that is an increase or decrease over the previous week, and month. Top categories for job postings, and highlight three jobs currently active on our site that I think are interesting.

So let’s start with the top line number -- 15,763 active jobs right now on our site.  

That’s a good number -- lots of opportunities -- but let’s get a little nuanced. 

It’s important to see the trends… in the last week we have added 2,392 sports jobs...the week prior we added 1,842 --- now that’s a short term trend, but it’s good news. 

As for categories -- where is the growth?

2,343 jobs in media/creative -- remember eleven without fans, teams leagues and organizations are still creating content for their digital and social platforms.

Over 6,000 active opportunities in retail/lifestyle -  many of these are far more working the register at Dick’s Sporting Goods -- no offense, Dick’s, we love you, in fact, if you want to sponsor this podcast… call me. 

Many of the jobs in retail and lifestyle apply to huge brands like Puma, Adidas, Nike, Under Armour, these brands are thriving right now and they are HUGE businesses.

As for my three favorite jobs of the week --    

Zamboni Operator which is about 30 minutes from my house. Back up plan. Happy Gilmore.

Assistant General Manager for a summer collegiate wood bat league which just sounds awesome. 

And the director of video content for the Tennessee Titans -- I mean I’d be drooling all day making videos of Derrick Henry stiff arms, and I’d get to work with former guest Amie Wells -- so that would be fun, 

Alright -- that is the stat line! 



If you have data you want me to share on a regular basis -- let me know… I want to help you all be smarter about your job search! And I’ll get through it a little faster in the future, this was a set the stage episode. 

Ok onto today’s topic!

Sometimes as I prep this show and go through the myriad of questions we receive each week -- rather than handle a specific question, I notice a theme which we can dive into. 

Again, if you want to submit a question for our Work In Sports podcast Monday episode - you can email me, bclapp@workinsports.com, you can ask me via LinkedIn, you can ask me as part of our private Facebook group - of course, you’d have to join it first… but that’s easy search for the Work in Sports podcast on Facebook and answer a few questions, then I’ll let you in, then you can ask your question. 

It’s an incredible group for networking with other sports career-minded people, so jump in. 

So the pattern. Many many questions have come in lately with topics like 

“I can’t decide what sports career I want…

“I can’t decide which role to take….

“I can’t decide what to include on my resume…

“I can’t decide what to wear for my interview…”

And it got me thinking… we have a problem with decision-making. Now, let me set some of the stage here, I am a strong believer that being able to make decisions and not just follow them, is vitally important in life. All of your life, not just your work life. 

You know how people say all the time “everyone works in sales because you sell yourself and your ideas and your products whether you realize it or not”

I feel the same way about effective decision making -- we all have to make decisions. Every damn day - for our health, finances, careers, lifestyle --  So how do we get good at it?

We as a society spend tons of time looking backward and saying to ourselves “If I had only done X, at that moment...things would be different” 

If I had only invested in Apple back in 2005...if i had only decided to start running last month I’d bee way ahead… if I had only decided to say yes to that dinner date”

Stop looking back, make a better plan to move forward decisively.

Fact: Most of us are programmed to make decisions based on fear, low self-esteem, and a lack of willpower.

Ugh - that sounds awful when you say it, but think about yourself for a second, how often do you make choices out of fear, doubt, or a lack of desire to challenge your normal paths.

Sign me up for all of those. 

Now here’s the deal --- there are extremely process-driven methods to making decisions -- identify your goals, evaluate options, think through potential outcomes, make your best choice, communicate your choice. 

This is all true -- but it’s rigid, and doesn’t involve any emotion. Logic is super important in decision making but you have to use both sides of your brain. 

You’ve probably heard over and over again about the left and right sides of your brains -- the left is your logical side, and your right is the emotional side. It is vitally important during any decision making that you balance the two components, logic and emotion. 

Too logical, and you’ll fall into the trap of doing what you’ve always done. Too emotional, you’ll react quickly and impulsively. Find the balance between both -- challenge your emotions with logic, challenge your impulses with process. 

Now, that sounds like the start to paralysis by analysis, that you’ll be caught in a loop of left and right brain, ...settle down, don’t have an anxiety attack, we just talking about balance to start.

1. Visualize 

In any decision making, visualize.

I’m a visual person, and you can be too.  

When I was actively competitive in sports, before every game, I’d visualize moments. I’d play them out in my mind, with a goal of seeing what success looks like. Get the ball here, the defense is aligned this way, see the whole field, diagonal pass if the defense goes this way, attack the wide zone if they go that way… I’d play it out in my head beforehand. And I’d see myself making the right choices and it resulting the right outcome. 

This powerful tool, my mind, gave me great confidence that I knew how to act at the moment.  

Visualize your potential decisions, with a lens of what success looks like to you. How do the options play out? Everyone has different ideas of what success looks like, so don’t just play out the scenario, match it up with your idea of success.

2. Identify the problem and your goals. 

We get distracted easily. Sometimes we make a simple choice appear really hard and complex. The old Keep it Simple adage works here, isolate the problem, what is it? What are your goals in solving this problem? Don’t try to solve everything related to the problem, just this problem. 

Focus and fix. 

What does this choice really mean for you? What do you want? What does success look like to you? 

Before you make a decision, you have to understand the effects of your choice. Any decision that you make causes a chain of events to happen. 

What exactly is the problem that needs to be solved? And why does this problem need to be solved?

Understanding why you have to make a particular decision and the consequences therein will better serve you in staying with it and defending it.

3. Go with your gut. 

This is controversial -- I’ve read some research that says not go with your gut, I’ve read others that say you should. I think your gut should be a part of your decision-making rubric.

Your instincts have been honed by all of your experiences, good and bad, it’s like your mind’s subconscious warning system… you don’t think about it actively, it just comes to you. 

I choose to believe this isn’t actually your GUT, per se, this is your subconscious brain that has been formed over your years of experience. 

Research shows that our instincts often first hit us on a visceral level, telling us what we need to know well before our consciousness catches up. When making big decisions, you've got to tune into your inner wisdom. 

It is part of your mind’s power, and remember it is your mind that got you this far… don’t forget to actively use it here. 

4. Gather information.

Research. Look to other industries or trusted sources. Talk to experts and professionals. The more valued information you gather, the better your decisions can be. 

BUT, talking to others, and researching are just data points for you to make the ultimate decision - they are not the decision-makers, you are. Do not abdicate your responsibility to the process by leaning too heavily on others or research.

For example, you have to choose your career path, but doing research into options and listening to our podcast can help you make the right decision.

5: Consider the consequences 

The older I get, the better at this I become. When I was younger, I followed my gut all the damn time. I felt my intuition and experience is what got me here, and that’s what I’m going to go with. What I didn’t often see back then was how this move affected many other people and future decisions nxt month and next year. 

For example, I’m the News Director at Fox Sports Northwest -- we get a scoop on two members of the Portland Trailblazers getting busted for DUI - we are all over it, reporting like champs, and we go to air with the story.

In a strict journalism sense -- awesome. Smart, everything I’ve been trained. But we weren’t really journalists, we were a TV show supporting the area sports teams.

My choice affected our ability to land a huge deal with the Portland Trailblazers as their media partner. I ended up having to apologize for my choice.

My instinct was to follow my CNN training -- get the story, vet the story, confirm the story again, get another batch of sources and conformation, and then report it. 

If I had taken a step back and thought about the consequences, I may have made a different choice. 

This isn’t a great example, but it is important to think big picture of your business or your life goals and all who affected by this choice. 

 Who is affected by this? 

6: Beware the Decision-Traps, Particularly in Group Settings 

Wherever humans gather, we bring our biases, histories, and values to bear on our thinking. Power structure or personality issues in a group setting can suppress open dialog. Groups are prone to falling in love with their solution, suppressing objective, and outside views. 

Also, there are many many other complex cognitive biases that alter your decision making, 

Fundamental attribution errors, peak-end rule, groupthink, distinction bias, confirmation bias, hyperbolic discounting

I’ll let you look these up, or not, the point is… keep it simple, Research, understand your goals and the problems, consider the consequences and act.

7: Once you decide - believe in yourself. And your process.

No one is inspired by a leader who waffles. Trust your process and why you got to this point. Clearly communicate the decision, provide a lens into why, so others can get on board with the choice, and move forward with power and passion.

People who work intentionally on strengthening their decision-making effectiveness, prosper. They make big decisions that set actions in motion, and they inspire confidence in their team, the team and those around them see why this person has leadership abilities.  Don’t wing it, don’t rely too much on emotion, balance. Visualize success, define the problem, fix it, move forward with strength and clarity.  

By Brian Clapp | September 21, 2020
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