Podcast: Jess Ekstrom on How to Make Intentional and Impactful Decisions

Are decisions leaving you paralyzed in fear?

Whether it’s picking a menu item at a drive-thru window or selecting a business partner, do you find the decision-making process so intimidating that you just can’t seem to move forward?

The good news is that you’re not alone, and you’re definitely not beyond help!

We recently chatted with Jess Ekstrom, founder and CEO of Headbands of Hope, an organization that designs and sells headbands in order to also donate them to children with cancer.

Jess talked with us on the Leadercast Podcast about how she learned the importance of healthy decision making in her personal life and in her business. She shared the strategies she uses to help her make intentional decisions that support her goals.

Here are some highlights from our conversation.

Let Your Purpose Be Your North Star
Intentional decision making has to have a consistent point of reference—a north star, if you will.

Purpose has been Jess’ north star. When faced with a decision, she filters it through questions such as, “Does this opportunity support my cause? Does it ultimately serve the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of what I’m doing?”

Your north star can help you be confident in what you’re saying yes and no to. It will help you determine if you’re using your “no’s” wisely since every “yes” means saying “no” to something else.

“When I was saying ‘yes” to everything, I was saying ‘no’ to a lot of things I really cared about," Jess says. TWEET

When you are keenly aware of what’s worth your “yes,” you can make decisions that prioritize that thing.

Make Your Decision and Stick With It
Even with purpose as your guide, after the fact, you might still question if you made the best decision. And while that’s okay, Jess has found more success when she commits to what she decided, even if it doesn’t turn out exactly the way she envisioned.

“I am better at deciding and letting something play out, rather than be paralyzed by the planning," she said. Make the decision and then choose to live in it, Jess advised. Close the door on “what if” and own the choice you made.

For example, if you hired person A over person B, but are still not sure if you made the right decision, simply own it. Keep going. Put all the wheels in motion for a new hire and keep going with it so you have no choice but to move forward.

Failure is Not the Opposite of Success
“Failures and missteps aren’t the opposite of success; they’re just a part of it,” Jess said. TWEET  

Hiccups are inevitable, especially when you’re navigating in new territory. Jess believes failure is a reflection of growth, not a reflection of self.

When you mess up, don’t throw a blanket over it. Be as transparent with your mistakes as you are with your wins. Each mistake is a learning opportunity for you and for your entire team, so invite them into the process and grow together.

Surround Yourself With People Who Want to Do the Hard Work With You
If you’re still finding it hard to secure a decision, be vocal! People genuinely want to help. Ask your peers and mentors for input, especially when it comes to big decisions or ones that involve details outside of your wheelhouse.

Jess talked specifically about building a team, sharing this practical staffing advice:

1. Start with sharing the mission. Share the business purpose, your “north star,” with candidates. Explain how their roles will fit into and contribute to the mission.

2. Look for more than just heart. Surround yourself with people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and do the hard stuff, not just dream about it or give it lip service.

As a founder, you think no one will care about your cause as much as you, but it’s not true, according to Jess. If you do a great job of living out your organization’s purpose, people will catch the vision and be willing to walk with you through the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Want to hear more from Jess and see all the amazing things she is up to? You can find her at jessekstrom.com.

You can hear the full interview with Jess at the Leadercast Podcast and be sure to subscribe so you never miss an episode. Thanks for listening!

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