How to Avoid Making a Bad Decision on a Down Day

Every leader has been there, that secret place of pain and frustration that has you asking, “Why on earth am I doing this?”

It might be triggered by a bad interaction with a client, coworker, or parishioner, or it could hit you as a perfect storm of stress, fatigue, and conflict. Either way, there’s bound to come a day when you’d rather do anything else than what you’re doing.

Making the decision to leave a leadership post amid conflict or during a low season could turn out to be a choice you regret. To be sure that you make your transitions for positive reasons, not negative ones, ask yourself these five questions every time you think you want to quit.

  1. Am I reacting to a moment, or is this a long-term conviction?

Everyone has down days or even longer periods. But low moods, like the conflict, fatigue, or busyness that produces them, usually pass. Don’t make a permanent decision based on a temporary feeling. When the time is right to move on, you will likely have felt that for some time.

  1. Am I being driven to escape or achieve?

Some leaders develop the habit of dealing with problems by leaving them for something else. When things are difficult, you may have a strong flight reflex. You just want to get away. If your environment is truly toxic, that might be necessary. Generally, however, it’s best to make career decisions based on opportunity. If you’re drawn to a new challenge or prospect for achievement, your feeling may be worth paying attention to. Otherwise, wait awhile.  

  1. What’s the best choice I can make for others?

It might surprise you that even Jesus wanted to quit at one point. In the garden of Gethsemane, he prayed that he might be released from his mission. But he concluded the prayer with these words, “Not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

Question any decision that puts your own comfort ahead of the needs of family or others who depend on you.

  1. Five years from now, will I be glad I made this choice?

Hat tip to Andy Stanley for this great leadership question. Give yourself the gift of perspective by taking the long view. Don’t think so much about the next five days. Look at the effect of this decision over the next five years.

  1. Am I quitting or leaving?

Quitting is often motivated by fear, self-pity, or a lack of imagination. It’s almost never the right move. Leaving is a deliberate, thoughtful choice to end one season in order to begin another. Leave if you feel the need, but don’t quit.

What about you? What’s your strategy for managing your “flight response”? I’d love to hear your answer on Facebook or Twitter.







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With more than 40 years of leadership experience, Stan Toler knows what it takes to empower people to reach organizational and personal goals. He cuts thrugh the mystery and confusion and provides clear guidelines to help you accomplish vital leadership tasks, including…

defining your vision, developing your plan, and communicating clearly to help people buy in to your shared goal overcoming common leadership challenges to create a culture of success building strong relationships and effective teams that make working hard worthwhile.

You’ll find all the tools, tips, and practical guidance you need to help individuals and groups reach their highest potential and fulfill their God-given purpose.