Amy Rees Anderson

One Clear Voice

Life is so full of decisions that have to be made on a daily basis.  Some are small and insignificant.  Yet, some have huge impact on our lives and our futures as well as the people around us.  So how do you make the right decisions?

There are times the decisions can be made by simply looking at the black and white of what is right and what is wrong and then choosing the right thing.

There are other times when the facts point to what is right and what is wrong, but we get all tangled up in our own emotions and we allow those emotions to make us question or rationalize the decision in order to avoid dealing with the emotions we might be feeling (for example, you know the person you are dating is bad for you but at least they keep you from feeling lonely…or you know you should help that stranger in need but you are feeling embarrassed to approach them…or you know you should fire a person from work because they are doing a poor job but you feel sorry for them because they are struggling in their life…you get the picture?  In those situations it is critical to take the emotion out of your decision and base the decision on only the facts of what is right and what is wrong and then go with the thing that is right, ignoring that it might be emotionally tough to do.  When you can do that you will always feel better in the end even if you struggled to get through it.

The next type of decision is the one where you think you might be right but you doubt yourself because perhaps you worry you don’t have all the facts?  Or it could be that you doubt your own ability to make the right choice and insecurities keep from you from being able to decide.  Or it could be that you are afraid to make the choice because you simply don’t want to end up being wrong.  It’s never fun to be wrong, so often time’s people avoid making the decision at all – which I will say I think is one of the most dangerous ways to handle things.  Inevitably by not making a decision you make a decision.  Things happen and opportunities are missed.  Thus, making no decision made the decision for you.  So how can you avoid falling into this trap?

Lastly, there are the times that there isn’t a clear right and wrong decision.  Not because you have emotions involved, not because you are afraid to decide, but because there may simply be two decisions that are both good options and could both be right – how do you decide then?  An example of this would be choosing between two careers that could both be good options…or choosing to spend time with a child versus choosing time to spend with a spouse…both great things to do, so how do you decide?

I don’t have all the answers on this but I will share with you what has helped me to get through tough decisions in my life.  If there is a clear right and wrong decision I force myself to always choose the right thing.  I don’t allow myself to even consider the wrong thing as an option and that makes my choice easier.  Next, if I know I am struggling emotionally with a decision I try to sit back and look at the hard core facts, without my emotions involved, and if doing that allows me to see a clear right and wrong then I again choose the right.  If I come across a decision where I feel insecure or uncertain or for whatever reason or if I come across a decision where it feels like more than one answer could be right – well that is when I get on my knees and pray about it for starters.  The other thing I try to do is to find a quiet place to step away and just sit and let my mind go clear and I listen.  I know that probably sounds weird, but the fact is that when I try to sit and just listen it allows my mind to be open to things and it allows me to really be at peace as I consider my options.  And then I trust what answers come to me. Sometimes the answers come through a feeling; sometimes they come from a thought in my head that pops in there suddenly; other times it comes from a gut instinct that I should go with one option over the other.  And then there is the most important part – once I get an instinct or a feeling about something I have to learn to TRUST IT!  Over the years my executive team can testify to you that every time I had a gut feeling but then didn’t follow it, I got burned.  Every single time.  To the point that if I ever said to my execs, “I have a gut feeling we should go with this, but I am thinking we will go with that”  they would immediately stop me and say “No freaking way”  Even they had seen the consequences every time I went against my gut and because of their pushing they helped me to really learn to trust my instincts and stop doubting myself.

Learning to make good choices and learning to trust your instincts are critical in life. They are especially critical when you hold positions of leadership because so many people are counting on you to do the right thing.  Never let yourself hold back on making a decision out of fear, and never allow yourself to make the wrong decision based on fear.  Both of those will always turn out bad in the end. You have to be willing to step up and make decisions and as long as in your heart you are always trying to do the right thing, then have confidence in that and move forward.

One of my favorite songs is sung by Peter Cetera and I love it because the words are perfect for reminding us how to make good decisions.  It’s called One Clear Voice:

One Clear Voice

The whole world is talking
Drowning out my voice
How can I hear myself
With all this noise
But all this confusion
Just disappears
When I find a quiet place
Where I can hear

One clear voice
Calling out for me to listen
One clear voice
Whispers words of wisdom
I close my eyes
’till I find what I’ve been missing
If I’m very still, I will hear
One clear voice

I’m always searching
For which path to take
Sometimes I’m so afraid
To make mistakes
From somewhere inside me
Stronger than my fears
Just like the sound of music
To my ears, I hear

One clear voice
Calling out for me to listen
One clear voice
Whispers words of wisdom
I close my eyes
’till I find what I’ve been missing
If I’m very still, I will hear
One clear voice

As I draw closer to the last day of transitioning my role of CEO of MCG, I want to reassure all of you, especially those of you who have the added responsibility of leadership roles, that every single one of you has the ability to make all the right choices as you move forward.  I have so much confidence in every one of you and I believe in you wholeheartedly.  That is why we brought you into the organization.     You are better than you have any idea of, trust me, I know.  I have watched all of you for eight plus years now and you are absolutely amazing!   All you need to do is choose the right and trust your own instincts. And know that I believe in you.

“You are the CEO of your own life, start making executive decisions today!” -Stephen Luke



  • Eric says:

    What a great post!
    Whenever I struggle with indecision I’m going to come back to this. I love the reminder ” Inevitably by not making a decision you make a decision. Things happen and opportunities are missed. Thus, making no decision made the decision for you.”
    Thank you Amy!

  • Mikinsie Clark says:

    Amy, I have a sticky note at my desk with a quote from one of your past tweets: “Always remove emotion to look at the facts and choose right from wrong.” -Amy Rees Anderson
    When I’m faced with a tough situation I (admittedly, sometimes reluctantly) let my eyes wander to that sticky note and it always helps me step back and make the best decision. Seeing your name at the bottom of the message reminds me to stay strong and focused and look at the facts, not letting my emotions get in the way of how I handle things. This advice has helped me through quite a few difficult situations and they always turn out for the best. Thank you for sharing this message and being such a great role model and example.

  • Anonymous says:

    great post

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