4th and 1 on your own 29 yard line.

There are less than two minutes left in a tie game and the momentum is all with the other team. If you punt to them, you have a high risk of losing if the momentum keeps going. If you go for it and fail, you will almost assuredly lose. However, if you succeed, the momentum shifts to you.

What do you do?

That was the conundrum for my University of Washington Huskies in their annual rivalry game against the Washington State Cougars in The Apple Cup. An undefeated season was on the line.

Coach Kalen DeBoer rolled the dice and made the bold decision to go for it. The team executed a tricky misdirection play and converted the first down. The drive continued and resulted in a game winning field goal as time expired.

(I know I’ve got some friends reading this that are Cougs. Hell of a game. You should be proud.)

Coaches make split second decisions in games. Coach DeBoer had to make his in a few minutes, which likely felt like seconds. Or did it?

Whether it’s pulling the goalie when your down a goal late in a hockey game, attacking with a full court press in basketball, or making a gutsy call on the football field, coaches livelihoods and legacies rest on both the decision and the execution.

So do all of ours in both business and life.

While our decisions may not play out in front of a nationally televised audience, they are as important for our livelihood and legacy. We may not need to convert a fourth down, but we may need to make payroll, create a new product, or close a key deal.

We may also be dealing with challenges with teenagers, conflicts with spouses or significant others, or what’s best for aging parents. Sometimes the decisions can be processed and deliberated on. Others require decisions in real time, as was the case with me when the doctor in the emergency room asked if he could give extraordinary measures to resuscitate my mother who was in cardiac arrest when she had a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) on file.

On the surface, that would seem like an easy decision. My mother had dementia. I made the decision to resuscitate and it meant three more years of time with her that even through that crisis would become important to the entire family.

There are two factors, the decision and the execution. Both require preparation and planning.

Coach DeBoer had this situation already processed in advance. He already had the play. It had been practiced to the point of confidence for the players. The decision and the precise execution by eleven players made the play and the eventual victory possible.

Whatever decisions you must make daily in business and life are more likely to succeed if you’ve invested the time to process and plan in advance. If you have a team (employees, co-workers, family), they must be part of that process to be able to properly support you or execute the plan.

In my case, I knew that the situation might arise and (based on a set of circumstances) what my response would be, and what the likely consequences of it were. The skilled medical staff executed the direction and save my mother’s life.

Not all decisions are life and death, but all of them have consequences of importance. Do yourself a favor. Be prepared for what’s ahead and make sure your “team,” however that’s defined for you, is ready to run your play.

Keep chasing unleashed.

Quote of the Week:

“In three words, I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it gos on..”

~ Robert Frost

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