DECISIVENESS… Ability to decide

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s July visit to East Africa and Kenya in particular evoked memories of the historic Entebbe raid that happened 40 years ago. A few days before

DECISIVENESS… Ability to decide
  • PublishedAugust 1, 2016

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s July visit to East Africa and Kenya in particular evoked memories of the historic Entebbe raid that happened 40 years ago.

A few days before the raid – June 29, 1976 to be precise – a French airliner enroute from Israel to France was hijacked from Athens, Greece. Once hijacked, the plane was diverted to Entebbe Airport in Uganda. Majority of the hostages were Israelites and they needed to be rescued and fast. Time was of essence.

But the rescue mission, conducted by the Israeli Defence Forces, could not be possible without Kenya’s help and helping them meant rubbing salt to Kenya’s already frosty relationship with her neighbour, Uganda.

Talk of being between a rock and a hard place. But, suffice it to say, tough decisions had to be made. So Kenya gave Israel the help it needed, the hostages were saved albeit with a few casualties and the Kenya-Uganda ties had to be mended.

The above demonstrates what decisiveness is all about, which is willingness to make decisions even in the face of complexity and uncertainty. The world we live in today has placed so much emphasis on results and for you to get results, you have to act and to act, you must decide. Hence decision-making is the starting point of the result-oriented chain. And as if getting results is not enough, the business world coined the term rapid results initiative or RRI as it is commonly referred to, where results are achieved under the pressure of short time frames and ambiguous targets. This gives no room for dilly-dallying and as such, decisions have to be made fast.

In the face of this swiftness, individuals who are indecisive usually find themselves in murky waters as those who have mastered decisiveness outmanoeuver them. Many people thus fail because they fail to make decisions.

More often, they are indecisive because they fear to fail. Ironically, they end up experiencing the failure they feared because of their failure to make a decision. Being decisive thus calls for courage and not just courage to help you decide, but also courage to accept responsibility of the outcome of your decision.

Decisiveness should not be confused with being egotistical, obstinate or hasty. Rather, it should be seen as ability to decide with speed and clarity. It is also not waiting to have all the facts you need to make a decision but using all the available information to decide on the right course of action.

Truth be told, life doesn’t always present us with sufficient information that can be readily retrieved from wherever and waiting to get all facts at hand so as to make a decision only delays the inevitable.

Procrastination is born out of indecisiveness and this can be irking as no progress is made. Being indecisive is also giving room for other people to make decisions for you, whether good or bad, and you will hardly know for you don’t know what you want in the first place, making you vulnerable to the whims of others.

In times of crises, what the world looks out for is leadership and decisiveness, not blame game and procrastination. Closer home, we have paid dearly when our leaders failed to make timely decisions.

Lastly, don’t look for certainty in an uncertain world, don’t wait for others to make decisions for you and certainly, as veteran journalist and author Napoleon Hill put it; the world has the habit of making room for the man whose words and actions show that he knows where he is going.


Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide.
Napoleon Bonaparte (1769 – 1821), French general and emperor

We are given one life, and the decision is ours whether to wait for circumstances to make up our mind, or whether to act, and in acting, to live.
Omar Nelson Bradley (1893-1981), American general

Indecision and delays are the parents of failure.
George Canning (1770-1827), British statesman

Deliberate with caution, but act with decision; and yield with graciousness or oppose with firmness.
Charles Caleb Colton (1780-1832), British sportsman and writer

Everything starts with yourself – with you making up your mind about what you’re going to do with your life. I tell kids that it’s a cruel world, and that the world will bend them either left or right and it’s up to them to decide which way to bend.
Tony Dorsett (1954), American football player

In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
Theodore Roosevelt (1858 – 1919), 26th President of the USA

A wise man makes his own decisions; an ignorant man follows the public opinion.
Chinese proverb


Lucky is the person who has mastered the art of decision-making for they shall lead a purposeful life.
Samwel Ochieng’, Teacher.

Published in August 2016

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