What I learned about decisions from falling off of a jet ski

Each summer my family travels to Missouri to hang our with Uncle Doug. We meet at a lake in Arkansas, where he rolls out his water toys. Among my favorites are his jet skis. I waste hours nimbly hopping waves (when I’m by myself).

His newest jetski reached 81mph the last time I rode it. When I mention that to people, they often give an expression of fear, followed by, “Weren’t you concerned you would fall off.”

Jet skis are funny, though.

I have rolled a jetski precisely 3 times in my life. None of them were when I was going more than 10 miles per hour.

In fact, the most recent time we rolled, it was because my daughter and niece were worried about falling off. I overcompensated by riding too slowly. I gently pulled the throttle while turning. Then, our combined centers of gravity shifted and pulled us toward the water.

But, when you’re moving quickly—the jet ski becomes amazingly stable.

Here is what I learned from that moment.

Have you ever worked at a business that made decisions from a place of fear? Often those organizations make small, incremental changes, even when they knew a bold move was essential for success.

In essence they gently pressed the throttle and tried to turn slowly. Then, the business rolled slowly over.

Still, you see other businesses commit, accelerate decisively, and soon find stability as they gain momentum.

Intentional improvements over time can be good. But, slow, frightened movements when you know a big decision is needed can devastate your performance, and you may eventually sink slowly beneath the waves.

The pain in the ask is—are you making slow, intentional decisions because they are the right decisions? Or, are you making slow, intentional decisions because you are afraid to commit to the big ones you know are essential to success?

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