Circling the Airport: What to do when you find yourself faced with difficult decisions. - Steve Satterwhite

“Make a decision. And if that was the wrong one, then make another decision.”


I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just get stuck.

When I look back on my business and personal life, I can think of many times where I needed to make an important decision. But instead of making the decision, I would get stuck.

I would wait. Procrastinate. Weigh my options. Hesitate. Weigh even more options. Look at the situation again and again. Repeat the drill.

I call this mind numbing activity of mine: “Circling the Airport”.

Think of it like this. If I were the pilot of an airplane, I’m flying to my intended destination. I want to land my plane. I need to land to get where I’m going. I must land (lest I run out of fuel). And, as I circle above, I can actually see the airport below.

But, for some reason, I just don’t land.

For me, sometimes fear gets in the way. Fear of making a bad decision. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of criticism or disapproval.

Before I know it, my mind takes over. Jumping to false conclusions. Undervaluing the decision or the rewards that may come about.

Now, I’m no longer focused on the decision at hand. Instead, I’m overwhelmed by the false emotions I’ve created in myself. And, therefore, I take no action.

Circling the Airport.

In psychology circles, it’s assumed that ones thinking leads to ones feelings. And those feelings generally dictate the actions we take. But when I get overwhelmed, the emotions create false thinking.

As a result, I’m often unable to take action or make a decision that I need to make. Sometimes, I’ve even put off major business decisions that I needed to make, my company needed to make, for months. And, sometimes, admittedly, I put decisions off for years.

Does this ever happen to you?

So, how do we land that plane and stop circling the airport?

Let’s assume this is true—that thinking leads to feelings, and feelings lead to action—then one could reason that changing ones thinking will change our emotions and behaviors.

But this isn’t necessarily the case. Often, we need to flip the system around. In most cases, the way out of being stuck is simply to just take action. Or, as you’ll see in the video, sometimes you just have to keep driving.

My friend Geneva once gave me some sage advice on this topic: “Make a decision. And if that was the wrong one, then make another decision.”

Years ago, long before Google Maps and iPhone with International Roaming, we were on vacation in Italy.

Late at night, after 16 hours of flight, jetlag, and exhaustion, we were traveling to a remote place in the Italian countryside looking for our accommodations.

It was getting dark. The roads were narrow. I didn’t speak Italian. It seemed like we were lost. There was no one in sight for miles. And I was getting worried that we wouldn’t find our destination.

As luck would have it, the little country road was washed out. Barricaded. And, seemingly, no place to go.

Here’s a video to describe what happened next. It was one of those moments in life that I’ll never forget.

And to those that find themselves Circling the Airport today, I say: Proseguire!

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