As we go through life we have to make decisions in moments of time. That is, we do not have the luxury of time in many instances, when we are faced with tough decisions. Sometimes we experience crises that require our ability to take action on the fly. When this happens, we usually make instinctive decisions, like when a professional football running back has to decide whether to fake left and go right, or just lower their shoulder and take it to a would be tackler. Or when someone comes upon a car whose tire is crushing someone they love underneath. Although if one had the benefit of time to weigh what course of action would be best, there are yet numerous tales of immediate, adrenalin-fused feats of strength ending with the person lifting the car up by the bumper and saving the person who would have otherwise suffered terrible injuries or death.
The decisions we have to make immediately are oftentimes the easiest in terms of any second-guessing afterwards. It is quite natural to just feel, “Well, I had to do something. I didn’t have much time to think about it and so I just did what I did.” We often hear descriptions like this when we are told about someone who used self-defense to protect themselves when they were attacked by aggressors. Even those of us who prefer non-violent solutions will protect themselves in the event of a physical assault. When our bodies feel it is a matter of life or death, our bodies override whatever thoughts our logical mind may be having. We may be experiencing extreme pain from being hit and our bodies adopt the fight component of the flight or fight mechanisms. This is another example of an instinctive reaction that is predicated on survival and does not have the added benefit of time to decide another course of action.
The types of decisions just elaborated upon do not require great leadership ability; they are simply decisions that result as an extension of our bodies’ reactions to crisis situations and anyone is capable of making them. The Monday morning quarterbacks can criticize all they want after the fact, but their reprimands are usually taken with a grain of salt. The truth of the matter when it comes to emergency and crisis situations that require decision-making in the blink of an eye, is that each of us does not know what we will do, or how we will respond, until we are in these situations in real life and not a classroom setting.
We have the luxury of time in other kinds of decisions we make in life. When we do have time to decide what to do, the only thing that should guide us is this question: What is the right thing to do?
One of the most interesting leadership scenarios is playing out before our very eyes with respect to Syria. Most of what we hear today is about how President Obama looks weak for implying an attack on Syria is imminent and then putting the decision on Congress as to whether we go through with it or not. Pundits are saying his inaction after arguing his case in the media for limited military action is an affront to his credibility. Some critics even say he has no credibility.
We have said here all along that until all diplomatic efforts are exhausted we should not be considering military action towards Syria. This is not because of any other reason than attacking Syria is an unwarranted act of aggression. They have not attacked us; which would make our attacking them an easy counterpunch to deliver. Chemical weapons have allegedly been used (the U.N. jury is still out as of press time by all objective media accounts), and while awful in and of itself, is no reason for us to attack.
President Obama should not be goaded into any aggression towards Syria; not because he needs to show he is strong and not weak. Not because we need to police Syria and any other country if no one else will. Not because he hears his credibility is on the line. He needs to put aside all talk of what others think his position should be and focus on: What is the right thing to do? Nothing else matters in this decision.
The President of the United States should not give a damn about if anyone thinks he is weak. He should not care about if the United States looks like a “paper tiger.” Since when did it become necessary for the United States to be feared? Respected yes, but respect is earned and by our activity in Iraq and Afghanistan we have undermined quite a bit of respect the world once had for this country.
If President Obama stands down entirely from any military aggression in Syria he will have done the right thing in the face of enormous pressure from both internal and external sources to the contrary. Doing the right thing earns respect from other people not only in this country, but in others. The strongest individuals in positions of authority and leadership are able to dismiss the pressures and demands from Internet tough guys and focus on one thing: doing the right thing.
If you are a CEO or someone in a leadership position can you do the right thing even if it is not popular among your stakeholders figuratively and literally?
You have had the benefit of ample time to think about this…I challenge you to stop all of the excuses and begin hiring again.
It is the right thing to do.
- Vladimir Putin writes opinion piece in The New York Times on Syria (telegraph.co.uk)