Intentional Decision Making – Are your pants running away with your business?


We’ve all heard the phrase, “Fly by the seat of your pants.” Is that how you run your business? Could we benefit by being more intentional in our decisions, rather than letting our pants do all the work?

Who is Running the Show?

Copyright © 1961 Dr. Seuss Enterprises

As an intuitive decision maker, I feel like my pants have done good service for my business over the years. After all, I have a business I enjoy that supports our small team, and we’re getting some pretty good recognition in our field. We must be doing something right. Right?

Sure. We’re doing plenty of things right. That doesn’t mean that we couldn’t be doing some things better. The question is, what could we be doing better?

When visionary leaders are making decisions, it’s really easy to jump from anecdotal evidence to action plan at warp speed. Sometimes those whims work for us, and sometimes we look back at those moments and say, “What were my pants thinking!?!” Mistakes are rarely intentional, and failures can bring us the best growth experiences. Nonetheless, those hindsight growth experiences are seldom fun.

Runaway Pants

LivePlanSometimes life may feel like it was written by the fabulous Dr. Seuss, especially when we are being less than intentional with our decisions. Fortunately, we are the ones wearing the pants in our businesses, which means that there is a body inside the pants and a brain inside that body. We can choose to be more intentional with our decisions any time.

I was having a great conversation the other day with the amazing Kathy Gregory of LivePlan. We were discussing how LivePlan can be used for business owners to make more proactive and educated decisions. Then something occurred to me.

What about the business owners who don’t even realize they are making decisions? Something occurs to them, and the next thing they know they are just doing it. They didn’t even really think about it. I see this all the time with my wonderfully artistic clients at Polymath. As much as I may be the crazy bookkeeper that plays with puppets, I also get to be the voice of reason and caution.

“Oh, save me from these pale green pants with nobody inside!”

In Michael Gerber’s book, “The E-Myth Revisited” he refers to this phenomenon as “an entrepreneurial seizure.” In a flash of creativity our lives can be suddenly changed forever. We quit our day jobs and jump into this new thing that we are certain will make everything better. What alternatives? We’ll figure it out. To heck with being intentional. What’s the worst that could happen?

Fast forward several months, and we realize that perhaps with a bit more planning and forethought we could have saved ourselves a lot of work, time, and money. That doesn’t mean the overall idea was a bad one, just that it might have been a bit half-baked. We were flying by the seat of our pants, and our pants ran off with our business.

Intentional Decision Making

SynergistAs I have been reflecting on that great conversation with Kathy, I started thinking about Les McKeown’s wonderful book “The Synergist”. Les offers fantastic tools for intentional decision making that can help us all keep our pants on. Hopefully these tips can serve as a reminder for all of us to avoid the entrepreneurial seizure. He calls them The Three I’s: Investigation, Interpretation, Implementation.

While I have grown to love the practice of The Three I’s at Polymath, I know that I wouldn’t have been ready for them a handful of years ago. Maybe that means I’m growing up, or maybe the puppets and Dr. Seuss are starting to talk some sense into me. Either way, if the words above have you feeling like your pants are a little too tight, maybe the tips below will feel like a better place to start.

  1. Talk to your team.

    Make sure you run your ideas by other people. Don’t operate in a bubble or a vacuum. If your pants are the only audience to your ideas, you might not be in business for long.

  2. Listen to feedback.

    When someone is offering a voice of caution, consider it. That doesn’t mean that you need to let it squash your enthusiasm, but they may be saving you from the embarrassment of being caught with your pants down later.

  3. Take a beat before acting. 

    It feels good to run with things the moment they jump into our heads because the chemicals in our brains are running the show. Rather than taking that cute idea home from the bar tonight, write down the number and call it back tomorrow when you’re more clear-headed.

  4. Try on the pants before you buy.

    LivePlanLivePlan’s software is a fun and easy way to use your business’s actual numbers to easily run forecasts and scenarios so you can see what might happen before you invest a ton of resources.

Intentional Pants

Next time you have a crazy, wild, fun idea, maybe this ridiculous article will serve as a reminder to think for a moment before just flying by the seat of your pants. Your business and future self will thank you for it.


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