As I look out my window, I see my yard nearly devoid of snow, whereas directly across the street my neighbor’s yard is completely covered in white. The same weather occurred over the same geography, yet produced drastically different results in close proximity.

When I purchased my home, I did not pay any attention to which side of the street upon which it was located, but for the months of winter in Iowa it does make a difference. I have a dry driveway and sidewalks while my neighbors with Southern sun exposure have a clear backyard but ice-coated walks.

Decision-making occurs in many layers. In this case, I considered the city, then the neighborhood, then the house itself. I did not take into account the sun exposure, proximity to the mailbox, the angle of the hill upon which I needed to navigate in ice, or grading of the yard that I needed to mow in summer. All these features were at layers more detailed than I gave credence to in my decision-making process, but they have impacted my experience of living here.

The more you know about a topic, the more inclined you are to want to deepen the number of layers you examine. Don’t do it! Before you begin the decision-making process, determine what level of detail is appropriate for you to examine and ignore the rest. You may unknowingly be trading off snow in the winter for a lush lawn in the spring, but at least you will have made a decision instead of perpetually searching for the “perfect” option.

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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