5 Questions to Make Better Decisions – Interview with Andy Stanley

Decisions shape the stories of our lives. Better decision making requires you to use everything you have available to you. Today, we look at the five questions to better decision making with Andy Stanley. Andy is a pastor and founder of Atlanta-based North Point Ministries. Andy is also the author of Better Decisions, Fewer Regrets, and many more books too. His messages, leadership videos, and podcasts receive millions of views monthly across various websites and digital platforms. We talk about how leaders can make better decisions. We look at what gets in the way of making better decisions. Discover how you can face tough choices and still make decisions that you will be proud of.

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Target Audience: Charles Andrew Stanley, known as Andy Stanley, is the senior pastor of North Point Community Church, a nondenominational Christian Church and Buckhead Church, Browns Bridge Church, Gwinnett Church, Woodstock City Church, and Decatur City Church. He also founded North Point Ministries.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

Andy Stanley
This isn’t just a book you read and it was interesting book. But I’m hoping that this really becomes a permanent part of the decision making grid for many, many, many people as it has for me, as I’ve endeavored to let that be the reality for my kids, all three of my kids are in their 20s. When we talk about these questions, I mean, it’s I they are deeply ingrained in the hearts and minds of my own children. So this is a life message for me. And I hope it becomes a life message for a lot of other people.

Intro [0:30]
Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you would get insight from the founders and the CEOs, the fastest-growing privately held companies. I am the host. My name is Gene Hammett. I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth. Are you ready to grow?

Gene Hammett [0:47]
What do you have a better framework for making decisions that helped you make the best decision you could possibly make? Well, today, we’re going to give you the five questions to make better decisions. And before we get there, I want to talk to you about decision making. As the leader, you’re probably faced with making decisions all the time, you have to make decisions that may not be life or death per se, but they do determine the direction that your company is going to go. They’re going to determine who you bring along in that journey isn’t who you hire and who you partner with. But those big questions are also going to be about how you lead others to be more confident and courageous in their decision making. So wouldn’t it be great to have five questions to make you better at decision making? So without further ado, we have the author of the book that just coming out. better decisions, fewer regrets. Andy Stanley is the author of this book, and he is someone I’ve admired for many, many, many years, over 15. He is the pastor of my church, he is an incredible communicator when the best professional speakers I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure even call it professional. But Andy has made an impact on my life, and many, many others through his work. Now this book is just one of 20 books that he has. But today we’re focused on better decisions, fewer regrets, he’s going to give you the five questions to make you better and making decisions. One of the things I like about this podcast was not only is it give you the five questions, but he also talks about the context of why decision making is such an important where things go wrong, really understanding where they go wrong. And how we get in the way, is the key to making better decisions. Because that’s where you know that it’s about you not just about the world around you. So don’t be a victim. But really take care to really focus on how you can make better decisions so that you can live the life you want, impact the others around you, and lead a life worth living. If you haven’t already checked out some of the resources on my website, genehammett.com. To be a better leader to create a stronger culture. We have a lot of things that are free there for you. One of them recently that we love to share with you is five things visionaries get right. If you’re a visionary leader, you want to get these things right, then make sure you go ahead, go to Genehammett.com and download it now. When you think about leadership, I want you to think about this podcast. When you think about decision making. I want you to think about our guest today. Andy Stanley.

Gene Hammett [3:17]
Andy, how are you?

Andy Stanley [3:19]
I’m doing great gene. Thanks for allowing me to crash your podcast. So excited about this?

Gene Hammett [3:24]
Well, you’ve been on my target list. We’ve been trying to get you on the show. For years. We’ve been we’ve had a podcast for six years serving leaders and talking about things like culture. And your leadership podcast is one of my favorites out there, period.

Andy Stanley [3:39]
Oh, thank you.

Gene Hammett [3:41]
Well, we’re got you on here because you’ve written a new book, Better Decisions, Fewer Regrets. I always ask leaders about you know, why did you have to write this book? Because it’s not easy to write a book.

Andy Stanley [3:55]
So you want to know why I wrote this one?

Gene Hammett [3:56]

Andy Stanley [3:58]
Well, every time I write a book, I think I’ve written like, 23 or five books, I don’t know. And every time I write a book, I think that’s it. I’m done. That’s my last book because it is not a casual endeavor. I do it on my own time. It’s not part of my day job. But I wrote this book because through the years I’ve been doing, you know, ministry and leadership development and you know, with all kinds of people for years, and years and years, and one of the things that break my heart, honestly, and I talk about this in the book, one of the things that break my heart is watching people make decisions that undermine their own success. Because life is tough enough. Um, you know, culture is tough enough on business on any of us who are trying to accomplish anything, change anything. So the last thing we need to do is make decisions that undermine our own endeavors, our own success. And I learned a long time ago really through my dad, that there is a really important correlation between the questions we ask and the decisions we make. And the reason everybody knows this is true is that we’ve all made a decision that turned out to be a bad decision and we say out loud to ourselves.

Andy Stanley [4:59]
I should have asked more questions. And so there is there’s an extremely important correlation between the questions we ask and the decisions we make. So this book is basically, hey, here are five questions. And if you’ll just pause and ask yourself these five questions, you are going to make a better decision. And you’re going to have fewer regrets personally, in the marketplace, in the community, just wherever there’s, you know, a somewhat major decision to be made if you just stop and ask the right questions. And these are questions I’ve learned from other people. These are questions I’ve developed in my own life. And these are questions honestly, I’ve taught my children and I say to parents, and grandparents all the time, you should get this book and at least read or just, you know, either read these chapters to your kids and grandkids or do what we used to do. We used to pay our kids to read certain things or to listen to certain podcasts. Because, you know, this is just really practical information that I’ve brought together in a kind of a bite-size book. So that’s the reason behind the book.

Gene Hammett [6:00]
I’ll go a step further on that one of my sons are only have one son, but we wanted to read the books, we actually pay him to read them and give a book report, and he has to do it orally.

Andy Stanley [6:12]
Well, Sandra used to make our kids read and then write out two or three statements there and how old they were. But yeah, make sure they actually digested some of it. So that’s a great idea.

Gene Hammett [6:22]
Well, we’re gonna get into this five questions. But I want to start here first, describe some of the things that sabotage our decision making.

Andy Stanley [6:30]
Well, your audience will appreciate this, isn’t it true that we are we may not be able to sell anybody else on anything, but we are all crazy, good salespeople, when it comes to selling ourselves on bad ideas. In fact, as soon as there’s any desire for something, a thing, or a relationship, or a person and event and experience, we just we just go to work selling ourselves. And one of the things I talk about in the book is this. You rarely, you rarely have to sell yourself on a good idea, the moment you sense that you are beginning to sell yourself, that is not a green light that is for sure. A yellow light, and probably a red light. So one of the one of the things that we get in trouble over in terms of our decision making, is we’re just such good salespeople. In fact, another little exercise I have in the book is I say imagine being in a retail establishment. And the person, the salesperson begins to say to you out loud, the things you say to yourself in your head, you would be so offended, like imagine the salesperson saying well look, if you get home and don’t like it, you can just give it away. I mean, who would say that right? But we tell our the tell ourselves these things, or you know, it’s gonna work out or Yeah, it’s just like the one I already have. But this is a newer version, again, where we we sell ourselves. So one of the things we talked about in the book is how to stop listening to that internal salesperson. And again, these five questions bring some clarity to that, that whole process that we all struggle with.

Gene Hammett [8:01]
So many, we’ve all made some bad decisions, I’ve made some big ones, some things that you have helped me with being the pastor of the church I attend. But why is it so difficult to learn from the bad decisions that we’ve made?

Andy Stanley [8:16]
Well, because we think that experience is going to make us wiser, but unfortunately, experience often just creates ruts. And, again, we also confuse the idea that this is a big deal, knowing the difference between right and wrong, or good and bad decision is somehow going to influence what we actually do. And that is just not the case. Otherwise, we would all eat right. And we would all exercise. So knowledge is not the problem, it takes more than knowing the right thing to do. Or even, you know, knowing the right decision to make to get us to actually cross line and make the decision. So consequently, there’s it’s it’s a, it’s a far more complex process decision making is than we give ourselves that we acknowledge. So consequently, we need some help from the outside. And those of you and you know, the folks in your podcast audience, they know this, the the the decisions they’ve made, where they have had the courage to invite outside voices in even contrarians into the process. They look back and they just made more informed decisions. Because that was in a sense, a way of asking for more information, asking questions. So one of the things I say in the book is like, hey, instead of somebody else having to come along and ask you tough questions, I’m just going to give you the questions ahead of time. And if you got just a little bit of discipline, to pause mid decision to ask the question, you’re just going to make better decision.

Commercial [9:40]
Hold on for a second. Andy just said, experience creates ruts. And what I think he means by that is just because we live a life and we have all this experience. Sometimes we get in a rut and we do the same things over and over. And it helps to understand that if you’re in a rut that you can actually get out of a rut but you have to be intentional. You have to decide not to take the desert, or you have to decide to handle a leadership challenge differently. Because doing it the way you’ve always done, it could be in a rut. One of the ways this plays out in my life as a leader is I wasn’t really sure about how to lead people, I solved the problems for them, instead of letting them solve them for themselves. And over time, I got worn out, but they never got better at solving the problems. And it took me letting go of that it took me actually getting a coach and learning to let go of that. So I share this with you today to just add a little bit of commentary to what Andy said about experience creates ruts. Now back to Andy.

Gene Hammett [10:37]
And I do want to ask you about those questions. But one last thing before we get there, you’ve talked about the stories that really define our lives. And these decisions lead into those stories. So what is it about the decisions that we make that really shaped who we are and how we actually show up for the world?

Andy Stanley [10:57]
Well, basically, if you think about it, our decisions, our decisions are really like the steering wheel of our life, or the joystick or the trackpad, or you know, whatever device you want to use, that our decisions are how we steer our life. And our life isn’t, is basically the sum of the decisions we’ve made. And our responses to decisions other people have made about us, which by the way, are also our decisions. So it’s, you know, we got to stay away from the victim card, because, you know, people make decisions that impact us all the time. And we choose how we respond to those decisions. So our decisions, determine our decisions determine the direction and the quality of our lives. If they are, this is the steering wheel for our future. And when you when we begin to picture it that way, and we begin to connect the dots of today’s decisions, you know, tomorrow’s experiences, Today’s decision is tomorrow’s l today’s to sear decisions, tomorrow’s relationships, you know, then we realize, Oh, yeah, this is going somewhere, life isn’t disconnected, all these dots Connect. And they’re connected primarily by our decisions.

Gene Hammett [12:05]
You shared inside the book, some of the stories, that that really kind of shaped your life, you know, one of them being you know, how you chose the colleges that you went to and, and whatnot, and the experience you had with your father. But I would love to ask you right now, because we’re talking to Andy Stanley, about better decisions, fewer regrets, what are the five questions that you offers a filter that allows us to make better decisions?

Andy Stanley [12:29]
Yeah, and that’s exactly what these are, these are our decision making filter. And before I give the specifics, for some people, this is a new concept. They think, well, I don’t really have a decision making filter. Oh, yes, you do. All of us have a decision making filter. The problem is, if you don’t know what it is, you don’t know if it’s any good. We intuitively ask ourselves, am I going to like this? Will this make me happy? Will anybody find out? Um, am I going to be able to control the outcome? You know, so we we constantly are asking ourselves sort of the same questions, but they’re not necessarily the best question. So adding some new questions to an existing list of questions, because I guarantee everybody listening, watching, you have some sort of decision making grid. And so this book is essentially something I say in the book, I’d like for you to add these five questions to the decision making grid.

Andy Stanley [13:20]
The first question is why? And the first question is, why am I doing this? Really? And the really parts most important part of the question, why am I doing this? Really, this is the self leadership question, as we all know, especially the leaders, and you have so many leaders that are a part of your tribe, the most, the most difficult person in the world to lead is always the person in the mirror, because we’re so convincing. And again, it goes back to that internal salesperson. So when you’re making any kind of important decision to look in the mirror, and to say it out loud, why am I doing this? Really? Why am I going really, why did I call her back? Really? Why am I leasing this? Really, I know what I’ve convinced my husband, I’ve convinced my wife, I’ve convinced myself, but why am I doing this, really? And in the book over and over? I say, look, you don’t have to act on your answers to these questions. But you at least owe it to yourself to know and acknowledge the answer to the question, why am I doing this? Really? Why am I wearing this? Really? Why am I staying late? Really just being honest with ourselves? You, you know in business, you can’t lead a liar, you end up we fire a liar, right? And as long as you’re lying to yourself, you can’t lead yourself well. So in the book, I say, hey, look, it’s time to fire the liar and be honest with yourself. So that’s the first one.

Commercial [14:44]
Let me break in here for a second. Andy talked about in this question about self leadership. Well, another way to say that is you’ve got to lead by example. You have to be the leader that you expect of your people. This is not a place where you can say one thing and do another and it, you know, you expect there to be full alignment across the team and the culture. Because when you have self leadership, you have integrity, you have honesty, transparency, all of those things are necessary for you to be the kind of leader that you probably want to be. If you want to be a visionary leader, you’ve got to have strong self leadership. Back to Andy.

Andy Stanley [15:21]
Second question. And this is the one of the questions that I taught my kids early is, what story? Do you want to tell? What story do you want to tell? Because everything about every decision you make becomes a permanent part of the story of your life. And we don’t think in terms of story. And that’s the problem. We think in terms of isolated decisions, isolated events, but every single decision becomes a permanent story of permanent part of your life becomes a permanent part of your story. So the question to ask is, what story do I want to tell I have a good friend, I tell the story in the book, who very successful guy went through just a horrible, horrible divorce. And as is the case, so oftentimes, it became about money. And we had lots of conversations and early on in the process, because this was going to be a long drawn out expensive process. I said, and I’ll try to say his name. I said, Look, here’s here’s how to tell how you’re doing. And here’s how to process this one day, believe it or not, this whole long, drawn-out emotional, difficult situation is going to be nothing more than a story that you tell, this is just going to be a story that you tell that at some point, this is all in the past. It’s just a story that you tell, what story do you want to tell? And you get to decide day by day, whether or not you’re going to tell a good story. And so throughout this a year and a half ordeal, every once in awhile I would get a text, and here’s what he would text me, Andy, I can still tell my whole story. And he just kept that front center. So what story do you want to tell because whatever you’re going through right now, whatever it is, eventually, it’s nothing but a story that you tell. And you get to choose whether or not it’s a good story.

Commercial [17:06]
Now, hold on a second. Again, Amy just talked about your story. Now, as a leader, you want to make sure that you’re intentional about the story that you’re creating. And in the book, he talks about how decision making is what really defines the way we live our life, which is the story that we want to tell to others. So when you’re leading others, you want to think about the story that they’re writing. Maybe you can even ask questions about what story does this relate to in your life? Or let me give you another example. When you’re talking to an employee, how is what they’re doing, whether they’re showing up late all the time, or they’re not turning into reports on time, or whatever it is? ask them the question is, is this a story that you want to tell? And the answer probably will be no, they want that they want to play at a higher level, they want a level of excellence. That’s the story they want to tell, well, you can actually have a conversation around what story that they want to create in their life. So that’s another example of how you can use this beyond just beating yourself and making better decisions for you. Back to Andy.

Andy Stanley [18:10]
Third question, is the conscience question and it’s, um, is there a tension that deserves my attention? Is there a tension that deserves my attention? Here’s why this is important. Oftentimes, all the information lines up on the positive side of the ledger in terms of making a decision all you know all the logical things, yes, yes, yes, I need to do this. And then just before you pull the trigger, or as you’re approaching the day, when you have to make the decision, there’s something on the inside. That’s kind of like a hesitation, and it doesn’t make any sense. And because it doesn’t make any sense, we have a tendency not to pay attention to it. So the third question is, is there attention regardless of what everybody else is saying, and everybody else is going how everybody else handles this process is this is their attention that deserves my attention. And here’s what those of us who’ve lived long enough, either already know or figure out.

Andy Stanley [19:00]
Oftentimes, that tension, even though it doesn’t have any information around it, initially, when we pause and pay attention to that tension, generally, things begin to surface. And if we’re open, there’s new information to be discovered. But that there’s this thing on the inside of as part of our conscience, that’s just like a red flag. It’s just an internal hesitation. And it’s easy to talk ourselves over and through it. Because as soon as we switch on the logical part of our, you know, decision making process, there’s not a lot of reason, but I’ve learned the hard way. And I bet everybody watching listening has learned the hard way at some point, it’s good to pay attention to that tension. So the third question is, is there attention that deserves my attention? The fourth question is the one my dad raised me on and a raise my kids on? What is the wise thing to do? What is the wise thing to do not what is the right thing to do? It’s bigger than that. What is the wise thing to do? We talk about this question from three angles and a lot of my past experience, my current circumstances, my future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing to do and then the fifth fifth Question is the relationship question. This is the question where there’s not necessarily a payoff.

Andy Stanley [20:06]
In fact, this this is a, this question may just cost you and it’s a relationship question. And the question is, what does love require of me? What does love require of me? So those are the five questions. And then the book is full of extra information. And I was talking to somebody who said, well, Andy, if you just give me the five questions, I don’t need to read the book. And I said, No, so you’re about to make that mistake again, knowing and doing are completely different things, knowing and doing, there’s no necessarily necessary correlation. So I’ve tried to tease out these five questions in the book, again, so that become a permanent part of the decision making grid.

Gene Hammett [20:45]
Love the questions, and I do, you know, agree with you that just knowing the questions is not enough. When I was reading through the book, I was filtering through some of the things I have made, and I wish I had them on those decisions that I sort of regret, would have slowed me down a little bit, maybe I would have made a different decision that would have put me in a different place. You talk a lot about the Bible and God in this book, and I think it’s an excellent way to do it because she talked about your personal stories, you talk about some of the stories of friends and people that around you, but also you bring in some of the histories because you are one of the most admired pastors and ministers of that I know. But you talk about why does seeking God’s will for your life leads to a deeper peace? And I know that has to do with decision making. But why was that the big deal for you?

Andy Stanley [21:34]
Yeah, well, sort of the backdrop of that, my dad’s a pastor, and one of the early one of them, you know, he may have been a little bit too early on this. But one of his big things growing up is Andy, you need to discover God’s will for your life, that God has a plan for your life, and you need to discover it. And once you discover then you need to follow through and do it. So you know, what is God’s will for your life? And that’s such a big overwhelming, like, How am I supposed to figure that out? Is God gonna speak to me In fact, in the book, I tell, kind of a humorous story of, you know, there’s a story in the Bible about God, you know, talking to a little kid, my dad would tell me the story and say, if God ever speaks to you, and I’m thinking, no, I don’t really want to hear a voice, I don’t really want to hear that directly from God. But I do you know, if God has planned for me, I certainly want to know what it is. And what I’ve discovered through the years is simply this, these five questions and there may be more, but these five questions in particular, establish a direction and a pattern.

Andy Stanley [22:32]
And again, a grid for decision making, that will line up with whatever it is that God has equipped you and called you to do, whether it’s in the marketplace, whether it’s in the community, whether it’s in the world, whether it’s volunteering, whatever it might be that good decisions, again, they’re the steering wheel, will direct you in the path that you’re to go, you know, Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding, right, in all your ways acknowledge Him. And these five questions whether you’re a Christian or just a general theist, or maybe you don’t even have any kind of formalized religious, you know, belief system, so to speak, you’re not a part of a gang or tribe or a group. The sense that there’s something for you, and there’s something bigger than perhaps just living for yourself these five questions, again, they form the grid system through which you make better decisions, you have fewer regrets, and consequently just going to live a richer life. So there’s definitely a correlation between the spiritual side of this for me as a Christian and these five very practical questions that of course, anybody can ask whether there’s any kind of spiritual interest or not.

Commercial [23:39]
One last time breaking in here, if you don’t know about our YouTube channel, I want you to go ahead and check that out. We have some content on the YouTube channel that we don’t have anywhere else. So if you want to be a visionary leader, you want to create a competitive advantage culture, you want to grow your company beyond where it is today, then you want to make sure you check out the YouTube channel, just go to genehammett.com/YouTube. When you think about leadership, and you think about growth, think about Growth Think Tank, back to the interview.

Gene Hammett [24:07]
Well, I’m talking here with Andy Stanley, his new book coming out better decisions, fewer regrets is in bookstores now. And is there one last thing that you kind of want to leave the audience with about these five questions for better decision making?

Andy Stanley [24:20]
Yeah, I would just encourage people to obviously I’d love for people to run to read the book, but to just take the five questions and put them on a card somewhere and just keep them in front of you in a desk drawer on your mirror or wherever you know, on your dashboard for a while. So that again, this isn’t just a book you read and go I was interesting book. But I’m hoping that this really becomes a permanent part of the decision making grid for many, many, many people as it has for me, as I’ve endeavored to let that be the reality for my kids. All three of my kids are in their 20s when we talk about these questions, I mean it’s I they are deeply ingrained in the hearts In minds of my own children, so this is a life message for me. And I hope it becomes a life message for a lot of other people.

Gene Hammett [25:07]
Andy I want to appreciate you for being here on the podcast grow think tank is the place where founders and leaders learn and grow. And so I appreciate you sharing your wisdom here.

Andy Stanley [25:16]
Absolutely. Thanks for having me.

Gene Hammett [25:18]
Well, this wraps up to a great interview with Andy Stanley to talk about your decision making process and having a framework that you know, that works. Going into a big decision or even small decisions will help you make better decisions with fewer regrets. If you’re a leader and you want to grow to the next level. Make sure you stay tuned in to more episodes from Growth Think Tank. I’m here to be an executive coach to be a guide to you. If you need it. Some objective advice sometimes sometimes it’s coaching, but that’s what I do. So thanks for tuning in here for to Growth Think Tank, as always lead with courage. We’ll see you next time.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.


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