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John Marvin

Making the Wrong Decision Is Better Than Making No Decision at All

Bad decisions can be painful. But inaction because you’re afraid you’ll make an incorrect choice is worse.




Making the Wrong Decision Is Better Than Making No Decision at All

DECISIONS ARE a mental activity every one of us engages in daily. Whether it’s deciding when to wake up, what to eat, how to spend our day, where to spend our money, or whom to spend our time with, decisions are part of our daily life.

In one of my earliest jobs, I had a colleague who was several years older and much wiser than me. I was fortunate that he decided to mentor me. I am not sure why, maybe he felt like I needed the help.

This was a sales position and each day for the first couple of months, I would ride with him and watch him work. One of the things I will always remember about “Red” Statum is when it was time to get out of the sales office, he’d say, “Let’s go; we’ve gotta do something, even if it’s wrong.” Red knew how to make a decision and do something.

While we make multiple decisions throughout the day, when it comes to making big decisions, most of us make bad ones on a daily basis. Only a few of us make good decisions consistently. Why? 

What keeps us from improving our office, making a staff change, switching to a different EMR system or hiring an associate doctor? It’s the fear of making a bad decision. I’m a believer in the idea that there is power in making a bad decision. It is unreasonable to think that we can’t afford a bad decision. Bad decisions have real value.

Bad decisions help us accomplish more when they cause us to course correct. If you do something, that action propels you forward. If that something is wrong, then you learn, correct, and move forward. If you think about it, there’s very little that can be decided that is fatal to your practice.


If you decide to put in a new frame line and it doesn’t sell well, then simply sell it off and replace it with another. If you hire someone that doesn’t work out, you terminate them and hire another. It’s indecision that is paralyzing and can be dangerous to your business.

Indecisiveness is a decision to not make a decision. It’s typically fueled by fear of failure. Low self-esteem and succumbing to circumstances is why so many people make poor decisions. Indecision causes your practice to stagnate, robbing you and your practice of opportunities.

Optometry is experiencing several areas of disruption right now and, I suggest, this is the best time to be practicing. With disruption comes opportunities. However, to be successful, you must be able to make a decision to take advantage of those opportunities.

Tele-optometry will create massive opportunities. Take advantage of this and learn more to determine whether it will help your practice. If you think it will, then make a decision and adopt this new technology.

The retail side of our business is also experiencing disruption. From online retailing to 3D printing, the consumer is demanding convenience. Think about how you can change what you are doing and make a decision to put it into action. If it doesn’t work out, then stop. It won’t hurt your business and it may be a great new service or item to make your practice more convenient for patients.

If you have an idea, a desire, a wish, a worthy ideal, make a decision to achieve whatever it is you want. Once you make this decision, the people, resources, and ideas will be attracted to you because your belief in achievement will supersede your fears and circumstances.  Your belief will be the catalyst that changes your behaviors, your actions, and ultimately your results.


There is power in making a decision, even if it is a bad one.

John D. Marvin has more than 25 years of experience in the ophthalmic and optometric practice industry. He is the president of Texas State Optical and writes about marketing, management and education at the blog. You can email him at


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