Where Have All The Easy Decisions Gone?

Whether you like Obama or hate Obama…you cannot dispute that his job is hard. So was Bush’s, Clinton’s, Reagan’s, etc, etc.

The easy decisions never come out of the President’s lips. They’ve already — easily — escaped from someone else’s.

The only decisions that make it into the Oval office are the hard ones. The complex, convoluted ones. The ones that would be better described as riddles than questions. The ones where intelligent guesswork and well-trained instincts are critical.

These are the decisions that highlight the capability of the President’s direct reports at least as much as his own.

It’s easy to forget that being President is hard. But it’s so important.


I can think of two reasons.


When we acknowledge that hard decisions aren’t, in fact, easy (obvious I know) we imply that there’s a margin for error. Sometimes a big one. Implicit in that assumption is an understanding that good people can make bad decisions — and bad people can make good decisions. And perhaps more importantly that the quality of someone’s character has nothing to do with decision-making ability. Detoxifying the discourse around Presidential decisions removes character judgment and keeps the conversation focused on the decision itself.


The hard decisions are the last ones, maybe the only ones, that the computer/algorithms/robots won’t be able to make. We need to show them some respect. If we show hard decisions respect, there’s a better chance that we’ll start figuring out how to incorporate them into our educational system. What elements of hard decision making can we practice in school? Running an effective meeting, evaluating talent and multi-variate prioritization are just a few that come to mind.