Deciding and Executing

In my opinion, there are two critical events that must occur when making something happen.

The first is you have to choose to decide to do it. This may seem intuitively obvious and perhaps even easy, but I think it’s actually the hardest. Decide comes from the Latin dēcīdō…from (“down from”) + caedō (“cut”). Decide literally means to “cut off” other options. And when you truly decide something, there is no going back…alea iacta est, “the die has been cast.”1

That’s not an easy thing, and sometimes we don’t even have complete control over all the factors. Never the less, we choose to jump both feet first into that unknown.

The second critical event is executing on what you decided to do. Often times I’m honestly not sure how something is going to happen. There are all sorts of paradigms along the lines of “time, money, quality: pick two.” But speaking as an engineer, I think figuring out the “how” — the appropriate balance of whatever paradigm you choose that brings about a solution — is often half the fun, and is likely easier than truly committing and deciding to do whatever it is that you’re doing.

NB: This an excerpt of an email I wrote to a good friend. I’ve talked about the etymology of “decide” with several people before, but surprisingly never here. Glad we rectified that.

  1. Caesar used the phrase as a metaphor to express the fact that he had crossed the river, and there was no going back. See also: The End is Nigh…at least the End of the Beginning is Nigh