A business leader’s job includes making decisions.
In some situations, the best decision is to wait.
Being decisive is a good trait, when accompanied by wisdom. Taking a risk, in the right situation, can be courageous and appropriate. Sometimes, the wisest and most courageous choice is to wait.
“Waiting is -as we all know- hard. We are familiar with chronos time, something we can measure with clocks and calendars. Kairos is the moment when God’s will happens. Kairos is when the right things happen in the right time.” (from “The Art of Spiritual Waiting” by Mari-Anna Stalnacke)
Waiting is an important part of our spiritual journey, for both our growth and our ultimate happiness. More than many people realize, it is a valid business strategy as well.
“To survive and thrive in volatile markets, managers can pursue a strategy of active waiting, which consists of anticipating, preparing for, and seizing opportunities and dealing with threats as they arise.” (Harvard Business Review article on “Strategy as Active Waiting” by Donald Sull)
This type of active waiting is not procrastination. It is not indecision. It is when a business leader thoughtfully and courageously makes a decision—to wait.
When Should We Wait?
There are situations when waiting is an appropriate choice. The key is to be able to recognize them.
“Thinking about situations where you are considering waiting over acting, you’re likely to find a waiting game being successful if (certain) characteristics are in place:” (from “Wait: The Art and Science of Delay” by Frank Partnoy)
Below are some situations where waiting may be the right decision. These examples are meaningful in both a business and a spiritual context.
- We have a strategy that allows us to accept multiple options as a positive path.
- Future options are not always shut down by waiting, and they may even expand. Success can take multiple forms if we are flexible enough to adjust along the way.
- Waiting provides us with valuable time for research, preparation, or learning.
- We may not be ready to move ahead. Perhaps we haven’t sought the counsel of appropriate experts. Maybe we haven’t taken time to talk to God, the ultimate expert.
- There are important other things we need to accomplish in the meantime.
- Being decisive is alluring, but other things may be more important right now. Perhaps it’s focusing on personnel or daily operations. Sometimes, we need to slow down to work on relationships or personal issues before moving on.
- We recognize we are being motivated by the wrong reasons, emotions, or compulsions.
- In business, greed, pride, or control may influence our decision-making, often without us being aware of it. Insecurity, impulsiveness, or other emotions can steer us the wrong way. Self-awareness and willingness to change can help prevent this from happening.
- We can take steps forward without having to decide on a definitive long-term strategy.
- It’s great to have goals, in business and our spiritual life. But there are useful steps we can take each day that will move us forward, even when the future may be unclear.
Being Decisive Through Active Waiting
Waiting is hard.
In business, we like being decisive, and we feel compelled to take action. Spiritually, we seem to have an insatiable desire to control our own life, even to the point of leaving God out of the equation.
Being decisive does not mean we need to exclude God from the process, and it sometimes includes making the choice to wait rather than feeling driven toward control. And waiting is different from doing nothing.
“Waiting on the Lord is difficult, but it isn’t a passive activity.” (from “Why Is Waiting on God So Hard?” By Bryan Hedges)
Being decisive can also be accomplished through active waiting, and in many situations it is a good way to move forward, where we:
- Make plans, but hold those plans loosely, and remain aware and open to future adjustments.
- While waiting, continue to seek God’s direction and prepare for the future.
- Use the time to work on the things that are most important in the present.
- Take time to examine if we are being motivated by the right things.
- Continue to move forward on a daily basis, one step at a time.
Waiting can be a valid spiritual approach and a sound business strategy. And in God’s marketplace, spiritual and business pursuits are both part of the same economy.
Question: Can you think of a time in your business life when the best decision was to wait?
Action: Pick an area where you will seek God’s direction and meditate rather than taking action.