Are You Inspired or Insane? Why it is so Difficult for Even Smart People to Avoid Stupid Decisions

By Constance Dierickx

Last week, I spoke with a group in Atlanta called CEO Netweavers. They are a great group and we had a lively discussion about decision-making and why it is so difficult for even smart people to avoid stupid decisions. When speaking about entrepreneurs we admitted that sometimes very successful inventors and innovators are seen as, well, a little nuts by others. How does one know if you are pursuing a viable goal or just deluding yourself?

Here’s my answer, and a quick self test the group asked if I could develop to help them assess their own ideas. I’ll be doing a follow up workshop on this, so stay tuned.

My answer in the moment – When Billy Graham tells us that he hears God, we believe he is inspired. When someone we don’t know tells us the same thing, we might think they are psychotic. An entrepreneur, inventor or innovator must have the courage of their conviction but not all convictions are worth being courageous about.

A few questions to help you –

1. Can I tell a potential buyer/customer what value I offer in less than 30 seconds?

2. Is there a market need for my product or service?

3. Do I know who the buyers are?

4. Do I know how to get to the buyers?

5. Do I have great passion for the idea that my product or service will be used and enjoyed by others?

6. Do I have money in the bank to meet my living expenses for a period of time that ensures I will not feel desperate? This is your number, no one elses.

7. Do I listen to feedback from everyone or no one?

8. Do I quickly rebound from rejection?

9. Do I do things quickly? That is, I act on my ideas immediately not in 12 months.

10. Does fear of rejection stop me in my tracks?

If you just asked yourself these questions and wrote down your answers, you are most certainly not nuts. You are likely trying to ascertain if your idea is one you should pursue in a “bet the farm” way or if it is a hobby. Hobbies are great, it’s just that most of us don’t earn a living by pursuing them-unless we turn it into a profession.

Give yourself 5 points for every “Yes” answer except: Question 7 – add 5 points if the answer is “Neither.” Question 10 – add 5 points if the answer is “No.”

50 is the total possible. You need all the things above to take an idea and do something with it.

Copyright Constance Dierickx – 2012. All rights reserved.

About the Author:

Constance Dierickx is a rarity among consultants – a pragmatic expert. She has consulted with over 500 executives, more than 20 boards in over a dozen countries, written more than 20 articles and delivered memorable speeches in the US, Europe, and Latin America.

She has provided consultation to Bank of America, Best Buy, ARAMARK, Gillette, Tennessee Valley Authority, Chubb Insurance, Alston and Bird, PanAMSat, DIRECTV, American Automobile Association, American Society of Hematology, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Olive Garden, Buffets and Frito-Lay as well as private equity firms, start-ups and professional services firms. For more information, visit

0 Comments on “Are You Inspired or Insane? Why it is so Difficult for Even Smart People to Avoid Stupid Decisions

Chuck Pugh
October 24, 2012 at 10:27 am

Constance provides a good, quick self-assessment tool for evaluating our readiness to pursue an idea or business concept. The first thing that popped into my head when I read the “lead-in” question was “blind spots”. We all have them…filters based on our experiences and personalities that cause us to miss what may be obvious to someone else. Thus, for me, outstanding leaders and successful entrepeneurs build diversity in their teams and have a team of advisors who feel free to speak up when they feel the leader/entrepeneur is missing something important…thus helping to avoid mistakes due to our blind spots.

Lee Ellis
October 24, 2012 at 7:20 pm

Great wisdom in your reply, Chuck–thanks for adding your perspective to this conversation. That open attitude of transparency and confidence is so critical. We’re grateful for your desire to daily serve as an honorable leader. (WP Admin)


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