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Why Being Decisive Helps in Being Successful

By June 14, 2012Blog
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A new study published in Psychology Today helps explain why some students who should not be successful end up doing quite well in their chosen fields. Two psychologists — Timothy Judge and Charlice Hurst ­­— partnered with the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to study 12,000 people for more than two decades.  Some of their findings were typical: teens from well-educated families who made good grades were more successful than blue-collar kids who didn’t do well in school.  Other findings were unexpected.  Some blue-collar students who had good grades ended up making 30-60 percent more than the privileged students.

What was the difference?

The successful blue-collar kids had personal beliefs that set them apart: emotional stability, internal locus of control, self-efficacy, and self-esteem.  These traits enabled those students to shape their future; that is, they were decisive in choosing a particular course of action or in quitting certain other paths they deemed undesirable.

Another psychologist found that students who lacked the personal beliefs isolated by Judge and Hurst were indecisive persons.  In other words, being a decisive person can be an important trait for career success.  Joseph Badaracco, an ethics professor at Harvard, identified what he called an inability to make “right vs. right” decisions as a “fatal strategic flaw.”

The bottom line?  Those who can focus on one strategy, rather than continually trying to choose between options or approaches to take in solving a problem, are more likely to finish a task or a job and, thus, be more successful.  So, make up your mind, move forward, and get the job done.  Indecision is deadly and non-productive; being decisive is essential to moving ahead.