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Making Hard Choices: Using Your Head & Your Heart

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Increase tuition in order to give raises or keep it as-is so to not rock the boat with dance parents? Elevate a current employee to a new position or bring in someone new? Hold classes until 10pm or cut some classes on the schedule so teens get home at a decent hour?

You opened a dance studio because you love kids and love dance, but a business owner’s life can often feel like it’s full of agonizing decisions. Our passion usually makes us go with the choice that best serves the art form we love. But as a leader, you must take a step back from your inherent artistic tendencies and weigh your heart with your head. Here are some questions that will help you steward your business with diligence and integrity, without suffering from major decision fatigue!

1. What does the business need me to do for it?

A healthy business is an independent entity, and both employees and owners must place the best interest of that entity front and center in order for it to be sustainable and vibrant. Think of your business as a living, breathing organism and you are the gardener that must tend to it in order for it to grow. Leadership sometimes requires that we enter into tough decisions committing to do what is best for the greatest number of people we serve, which means we may not please everyone—even those we deeply care about. 

Not everyone will be happy with every decision, and as a leader, you have to come to terms with that before the heat rises. In return for laying down your own desires and prioritizing your service to the organization, your business will become stronger and healthier, rewarding you with long-term loyal customers and longevity in the community.

2. How would I feel if my staff (or clients) saw the facts behind the decision?

Answering this question requires vulnerability and honesty. Let’s say you have a team member who is asking for a raise and you need to tell them no (or not yet). Would they understand it better if they saw the inner workings of your decision? If they knew your current payroll-to-income ratio, debt level, or other key numbers that play into decisions about wages? If you know you have nothing to hide, then take heart! You are making the right decisions. Use those facts to translate to the employee how you came to the decision. You don’t have to share details, but you can share context. While they may not be pleased with hearing “no” they’ll understand there are reasons behind it. 

Thinking of others’ perspectives motivates us to “mind the ship” and steer accordingly. There is peace in knowing your decisions are based on facts instead of feelings, wisdom instead of selfish intent, and a plan instead of scarcity thinking. This decision-making process leads to trust-building, no matter the scenario.

3. What were my values before this decision presented itself?

Sometimes we get caught in a decision-making moment and lead with our emotions rather than wisdom. If an enticing opportunity leads you to go against something you previously professed or held as a core value, it is probably the wrong opportunity to take. Occasionally two values will be in conflict, such as the priority of keeping dance affordable for families versus the necessity to increase tuition in order to sustain the business for those families. 

You must take time to process through conflicting decisions: Gather information and look at which option serves the greater good and gives you the opportunity to be the business leader you are called to be.

Even with difficult choices, you will find that peace usually comes with simply making the decision.

 

Indecision leads to agony: once the choice is made you can move forward. Your best step is to aim for the right decision using all the information at hand. Know that you are fully equipped to lead your team and your business when you are cloaked in mindfulness and humility. When you possess a servant leader’s heart for your business and the dancers you serve, you will make the right call.

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