How to Be Decisive, and Why It Matters to Your Success

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What does it take to learn how to be decisive? How can you become a decisive decision-maker?

Learning how to be decisive requires ignoring the criticism of others and standing firm on your decisions. This will help you become a better decision-maker. Decisiveness helps you reach decisions quickly and work consistently towards a goal. 

Read on to learn how to be decisive in your decision-making.

How to Be Decisive

A common reason for failing to become wealthy is the inability to make and stick with a decision. 

Successful people reach decisions quickly, and change them slowly if at all — so they don’t get sidetracked from their plan. 

Unsuccessful people never figure out how to be decisive: They put off making decisions and, once they’ve finally decided something, they change their minds quickly. This makes it impossible to move consistently toward a goal.

Henry Ford had a reputation for acting decisively and standing firm on decisions. For example, he held firm on his decision to continue making the Model T, long after advisors and customers had urged him to change it. As a result, he continued to make money for a while, and was able to put off expending resources to develop another model. While some considered him obstinate, that quality is preferable to being indecisive.

Procrastination, the opposite of decisiveness, is a common obstacle that you must overcome. 

People who can’t master how to be decisive will fail to achieve riches. They lack desire of their own and are thus easily influenced by the opinions of others, in effect allowing others to do their thinking for them. You have a mind of your own, which you must use to make decisions if you want to succeed.

Decisive people are undeterred by others’ criticism — what they want to do is what they’re going to do, regardless of what others think. Indecisive people take others’ negative opinions to heart, and sometimes develop inferiority complexes as a result.

The most important and influential decisions are those that require the most courage to make — those with the highest stakes.

One of the most notable examples is the American colonists’ decision to oppose British rule. Although they could have been hanged for treason, leaders of the 13 colonies convened the First Continental Congress (a Master Mind group)  in 1774 to coordinate their opposition to British demands. Without their decision to band together for one purpose, no Declaration of Independence would have been created. The signing of that document by 56 men also was a courageous decision, because it too could have led to execution for treason.

Because of making the choice to be decisive a nation was born — a desire became a reality. Great changes like this often take root with a definitive decision in the minds of only a few people.

Tips for More Decisive Decision-Making

  • Keep your most important thoughts to yourself (or share them only with your Master Minds), so competitors won’t know your plans.
  • Gather the facts and information you need quietly. Keep your mouth shut, and your eyes and ears open. People who know little talk the most to impress others. When you talk rather than listen, you miss the chance to learn something useful. And you give people outside your Master Mind group the chance to shoot down your ideas.
  • Show the world what you plan to do by doing it rather than talking about it.
  • Don’t be swayed by negative opinions from close friends and relatives.
  • If you know what you want and have a plan to achieve it, be decisive and undeterred.
How to Be Decisive, and Why It Matters to Your Success

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  • Napoleon Hill's 1937 guide to success
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  • The importance of a Master Mind group and how to start one

Joseph Adebisi

Joseph has had a lifelong obsession with reading and acquiring new knowledge. He reads and writes for a living, and reads some more when he is supposedly taking a break from work. The first literature he read as a kid were Shakespeare's plays. Not surprisingly, he barely understood any of it. His favorite fiction authors are Tom Clancy, Ted Bell, and John Grisham. His preferred non-fiction genres are history, philosophy, business & economics, and instructional guides.

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