When in an urgent crisis, remember you have time to think

Michael Brown, M.D.

I remember in medical training, I was taught to walk quickly rather than run to a code. The idea is that it is better to arrive in the right state of mind, even if it means you are a bit delayed. In management, the time frame for decisions is even longer. Generally, it is better to make a good decision rather than a fast one. I am not arguing for perpetual procrastination, but instead, I am suggesting that you should not let others put unnecessary pressure on you to make difficult on-the-spot decisions (or put unnecessary pressure on yourself to do so). Most decisions can wait for the next day or next meeting. Unless it is a) an obvious decision, b) a confirmation of a decision that has already been made, or c) you are demonstrating a pattern of avoiding decisions, most people will be satisfied with a commitment to decide within a reasonable period of time. It is up to you to judge for yourself the consequences of a delay vs the benefits of a better decision. Finally, quick decisions risk being emotional rather than rational. If you take a breath and you notice that you feel uneasy, it is even more important to offer yourself the luxury of time. You can also let those who might pressure you know that once you have taken the time to think through a decision, you are in a better position to stand behind whatever that decision may be.

Michael Brown, MD, MS, MCHM, CHCIO is a certified executive coach (Center For Executive Coaching) and Chief Medical Officer at Acesis, Inc. He was an instructor at the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health for 8 years after graduating from their Masters in Healthcare Management program in 2007. For the 12 years prior to joining Acesis in 2014, Michael was the Chief Information Officer for Harvard University Health Services.

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