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This past week, I interviewed an old high school pal for my podcast.

The interesting thing about my friend Dell Bull is that he turned out to be a Rear Admiral in the United States Navy, with leadership duties in various roles, including leading the famed Blue Angels. Now retired from the Navy, Dell is a Vice-President of Americas for CAVU. I asked Dell to join me in a conversation about leadership.

LISTEN to the entire podcast

One of the ideas that most resonated with me is the concept of “bad decisions.” Dell told a story about addressing young officers and was asked about the worst decision he’d made. He paused and responded with the assertion that he’d never made a bad decision in his decades-long career.

Silence.

He imagined that the young officers must have thought he was either arrogant, lying, or had lost his mind.

Dell explained that every night he could look himself in the mirror and know that every decision he’d made that day was in the best interest for the team, not him. The decisions were made with information he had at the time and with the health and safety of all involved paramount in his mind. That made every decision a “good” one.

He then quickly admitted that he’d made many “wrong” decisions. There is the rub.

How often do we look at decisions that didn’t turn out well (often due to factors outside of our control) and exclaim, “I made a bad decision.”? I know I have. What I learned from my friend who has made countless life and death decisions is that the “good and bad” in decision-making is based on ethics, morals, humility, empathy, and selflessness.

We all make wrong decisions; in fact I submit that is how we learn, adjust, and improve.

Our metrics about decision-making however should focus on “good versus bad;” are we making decisions not based on our betterment but on the prosperity of others? Are we making people’s situations better? Are we improving their condition?

We are all leaders. Some of you are CEOs and Presidents of companies; others are executives and senior staff; still others are leading non-profits and groups. As long as we are making “good” decisions based on courage and conviction, then even the “wrong” decisions aren’t fatal.

Rather, they can be learned from and we will be better for them.

Note: CAVU has a great video leadership program that Dell is intimately involved in. To learn more, click here.

Quote of the Week:

“In order to succeed, people need a sense of self-efficacy, to struggle together with resilience to meet the inevitable obstacles and inequities of life.

~ Albert Bandura

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