A businessman sitting behind some chess pieces with his hands clasped, considering his next move

Like most of you, I’m a lifelong learner and I’m determined to learn lessons and improve myself. However, many of us are so busy we sometimes miss the lesson altogether!

I learnt a lesson recently that I want to share, because once I spotted it, I’ve seen it play out all the time. What I’m talking about is the short-term ‘high’ of macro decisions that aren’t sustained compared with the effect of the daily commitment of micro decisions over the long term.

Let me explain what I mean.

The difference between macro and micro decisions

A macro decision is the big strategic thing, like starting a business, going for a promotion, or deciding to get fit. I’ve heard many times that you have to think big. And I know that’s important. But, most of us think that thinking big – making the macro decision – is the most important thing.

This may be controversial for some, but I believe it’s actually fairly easy to make macro decisions. We normally get carried away and enjoy an initial burst of energy when we make the macro decision and go in all guns blazing. But that only lasts for a short period of time.

I think it’s actually more important to focus your energy on the micro decisions. By doing that, you make progress, see the benefits quickly, and get things done.

I learned this lesson recently when I was training with a bunch of friends for a Royal Marines race event. How many times have you seen someone – maybe even yourself – make a macro decision like ‘I’m going to get fit this year’, and then not much happens?

It’s not the macro decision that’s going to help you get fit and complete the race. It’s the micro decisions of getting up early each day and going out in the rain for that 30 minute run. It’s the micro decision to pop into the gym for 40 minutes on the way home from the office even though you’re tired.

When you relate that back to your business, it’s not the macro decision to launch your new product or service that leads to elite performance and the results you want. It’s the daily micro decisions of being on time very day, following through with your meeting actions, and sticking to your performance management programme with your senior team. These are the decisions that are going to help you smash your goals.

Macro is good; micro is great

Yes, of course, it’s great to make a strategic macro decision to get started. But make no mistake, it’s the micro decisions you make on a consistent daily basis that you need to watch out for. The ongoing discipline of making them will help you achieve your potential.

So your takeaway for today is not to think solely about the big macro decisions you’re making, but also remember the seemingly inconsequential micro decisions that lead to effectiveness, growth and success.

Posted by Pete Wilkinson

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