When Academy Award winner Tom Hanks was asked by TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie to offer up his gutsiest career decision, he replied, “The gutsiest thing sometimes is to say ‘no’ to something.”
Citing examples of money and flattery as tempting triggers to say “yes,” Hanks reminded me of the fact that many of us jump into projects and opportunities because we are motivated by factors that have nothing to do with our ultimate goals. Sometimes these factors also interfere with our desired outcomes.
Certainly we can learn from those less than ideal experiences and grow from the truly negative ones. And there are the incredible opportunities we didn’t know were incredible at the time. So there’s that. But the truth of the matter is, it can be extremely difficult to turn down something that looks like a possible opportunity. It can also be difficult to separate an ego-boosting pitch from the opportunity itself.
How can we be better decision makers? Look at your patterns from the past. Slow down. Make a list of the positive and negative factors associated with each project and examine how they line up with your short-term and long-term needs and goals. Try to peel off the layers of fluff and flattery before you make your choices.
In the same interview, Hanks also revealed the advice he would give his younger self. “I would say, ‘Calm down. And also understand that any good feeling you have, any accomplishment you have will fade away. And any negative, any moment that you’re hurt, any moment that you’re stung because it didn’t work out that way you were hoping, that too shall fade away.’”
Award-winning advice from an award-winning actor.
(photo by @wanaktek via Twenty20 for Envato)