Whether you are an owner, manager, employee, parent, child, or whatever role you find yourself in the only thing you can control is yourself, which means your decisions, and your actions. When you try to control more than that and if you are aware, you realize your overall lack of control, Instead you realize whatever you have put in motion is subject to the responses and reactions of the others, whose decisions you’re trying to guide or control.

This doesn’t mean as an owner, parent, or whatever role you are in where are you are supposed to be “in charge” you shouldn’t make decisions that affect others. Instead, it means you need to understand how others react to those decisions may not be what you expect, let alone what you may be hoping for. And sometimes you need to make the hard decisions for what you feel are very good reasons. Other times, it may be in more important to speak with others where there is a trust relationship to obtain grounded feedback to help you make choices. Even when you do that, it doesn’t mean the actions of others will be what you want or expect.

This is brought home to me regularly in my role as an attorney. Many times I have a belief on the direction a client should take. Generally my clients listen to my recommendations along with the various options and follow the path I think is best. Other times they respectfully disagree and choose a different path. In my role there is a saying many clients and coworkers of mine have heard over the years. That is, as an attorney I make recommendations, but my clients make decisions. This type of situation applies to all situations where you are providing someone else with options, or even just a singular path. Your employee or child hopefully will listen with open ears, but the resulting action or response may not be what you hoped for or even anything that you considered as possible.

Of course, the seriousness of any situation is relevant to what we were talking about. Me directing a child to unload the dishwasher and being ignored, is different than making a decision with my partners that will affect all of the firms employees. Even if you spend time, considering an action or decision, or discussing it with others you trust, it doesn’t mean that, in the long run, it’s the right decision. Always remember that sometimes the fact of making a decision or taking an action is as important as the the decision itself. In hindsight you can decide whether it was the correct one. Indecision or inaction is the same thing or worse than a bad decision.

I suggest taking some time to think about recent important decisions or actions you took, which you believed to be important, whether in your professional and personal life. Think about what you did to come to the decision or action, and whether it worked out as you had hoped or expected. If it did, think about why, including whether the process you went through, including if you discussed it with others who were stakeholders in the decision, had any relation to the success or failure of the decision. If it didn’t turn out what you were expecting or hoped, analyze anything you could’ve done differently to achieve your desired result. Be open to the fact that the answer may be that you could’ve done nothing different and you are never going to achieve or reach a desired outcome.

Understand that everything is a work in progress because it generally is impossible to predict the reactions of the people your decision affects to fall in line with that decision or action. Spending the time to think about this is an investment in yourself and hopefully will lead to better decisions and better actions you have thought through when dealing with others in whatever roles you occupy.