Lack of decision has often resulted in insanity. Nothing is very bad or dreadful, once one has reached a decision to face the consequences. This truth was demonstrated quite effectively by a man who was condemned to die in the electric chair. When asked how it felt to know that he was to die in another half hour he replied, “Well, it does not bother me in the least. I made up my mind that I had to go sometime, and it might as well be now as a few years later, because my life has been nothing but a sad failure and a constant source of trouble anyway. Just think, it will soon all be over!”
The man was actually relieved to know that the responsibilities of life to which he had been subjected, and which had brought him to such an ignoble ending, were about to cease.
Prominent and successful leaders are always people who reach decisions quickly, yet it is not to be assumed that quick decisions are always advisable. There are circumstances calling for deliberation, the study of facts connected with the intended decision, etc. How ever, after all available facts have been gathered and organized, there is no excuse for delaying decision, and the person who practices the habit of such delay cannot become an effective leader until he masters this shortcoming.
Julius Cæsar had long wanted to conquer the armies of another country, but he faltered because he was not sure of the loyalty of his own armies. Finally he decided upon a plan which would insure this loyalty. Loading his soldiers on boats he set sail for the shores of his enemy, unloaded the soldiers and implements of war, and then gave the order for all the boats to be burned. Turning to his generals he said, “Now it is win or perish! We have no choice! Pass the word to your men and let them know that it is the lives of our enemies or our own.” They went into battle and won—won because all his soldiers had reached a decision to win!
There is a mistaken idea floating around that a man should be paid for that which he knows. In reality a man is paid for that which he does with what he knows, or that which he can get others to do with it.
Grant said, “We will fight it out along these lines if it takes all summer,” and despite his deficiencies he stood by that decision and won!