The Good and Bad of Impulsivity in Business

Apr 4, 2019, Written by Sue Miley

Impulsivity.  Is it good or bad?  Some entrepreneurs would argue that it contributes to getting things done.  It builds momentum and energy.  Their impulsivity helps with a common entrepreneurial need….adrenaline.  But on the other side, many of these adrenaline junkies come down from their fix with a wake of poor decisions that they need to rectify, reverse, or sometimes, live with.

Is It Really A God Thing?

Is it worth it?  As a Christian in business we sometimes like to use Jesus as our excuse. 

The Holy Spirit led me here. 

It was a God thing. 

I felt like this was His plan.

I can personally remember several times that I said “yes” to an opportunity that was right in front of me.   One of those was buying 16 acres of expensive land, saying to myself, “God wants us to live a different lifestyle.  It will be good for the kids to have horses and gardens.  They will gain responsibility!  And we can let the church use it for all kinds of events.”

I was definitely trying to convince myself it was a God thing….sorry Lord. 

On the other side of the coin, I was attending a church leadership meeting as a volunteer when a looming personnel need was making itself evident.  Suddenly, multiple staff members turned toward me and one said “Sue you would be perfect for this”.  Even though I was in the middle of getting my counseling license and starting a private practice I said “yes” immediately.  This one turned out to be a good thing, hopefully for the church and me!  The difference is that I never had to talk myself into it.  I wasn’t grasping for reasons why this was a God thing.

How To Control Impulsivity To Ensure Positive Outcomes

I do think that a true entrepreneur does have a bit of impulsivity.  I also think that you can harness it and use it for good in most cases.  There just has to be a process you go through…even if it is rapid cycling process. 

Here are some things to consider:

1. Timeline – does the situation, opportunity, or decision really require an immediate response?  We are not a war…we are in business.  And yes, we can sit on decisions so long that we do lose the opportunity.  But, when a situation arises, the first thing to do is to assess the timeline!

2. Information available – All decisions are easier to make with information.  We don’t want to have analysis paralysis, but given the timeline, how much relevant information can we gather?  Take the time, if available, to make an objective decision.

3. Evaluation – In the small business world, we need to evaluate all situations and decisions with the same critical short-term and strategic views:

  1. Will the outcome of this decision create a distraction from achieving our main business focus?
  2. What is the worst case scenario financially?  Could it cripple our business if it happened?
  3. If we wait and don’t act on impulse, will the opportunity still be available?  Or is it easy to replace with a like opportunity?
  4. How will this decision impact our team, our culture, and/or morale?

4. Sound Advice – When you pass the idea or decision by people whom you respect, and that have given sound advice before, what is their response?  Do they think you have enough information?  Do you feel like you are trying to convince them?  Are you asking people who are willing to tell you the truth?

5. Pray – I know as a Jesus follower I believe in prayer.  And most of us would say we talk to the Lord all day, every day.  But sometimes, if we are prone to impulsive actions and decisions, we need to not only pray, but stop and wait for the Lord to respond.  A drive-by prayer doesn’t count and God knows when we really want His input and guidance.  He can tell when we want His will more than we just want what we want. God can work fast, so don’t use the excuse, “but wait, what about the timeline?”  If we truly seek the Lord, if fast is needed, then fast will be delivered.  If we get nothing back…that may be the answer.

Overall, even when we truly feel we always want the Lord’s will, we can sometimes be blinded by the entrepreneurial, adrenaline-seeking, characteristic called impulsive.  However, we can get ahead of it.  If we can go through all five of the considerations above before we take any quick, impulsive action, we will hopefully improve the outcomes of our decisions and actions.

And maybe, just maybe, we will eliminate so much noise that we can truly experience and recognize a God-thing or two.

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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