Decision Consequences

Decision Consequences by Dr. Robert Gerwig

Some of your decisions may be easy.  Regular or decaf. Hot or iced. Venti or grande. This was the case recently for me when I selected the coffee pack on the left for my morning drink. I was staying at a hotel and didn’t have time for the full breakfast. There were two coffee packs in my room. The one on the left, regular. And the one of the right, decaffeinated.

The consequences of this decision were minor. Yes, there are always consequences, but in this particular case, the consequences were small. The housekeeper will have to replace the regular pack with a regular pack tomorrow when she cleans the room. The regular coffee will react differently with my body than the decaf. There is an infinitesimal impact upstream in the supply/value-chain of the coffee pack. For example, if the company producing the regular coffee pack truly has a “pull system” in place for it’s supply chain, one could argue that my choice increased their demand for regular coffee and regular coffee foil pouches.

This week’s article is going to focus on the impact our decisions have on others. Sometimes this impact is large. Sometimes not so much. Either way, it’s worth thinking through. Let’s run through a few examples.

If you made the decision to get married, the decision impacts you, your spouse, both families, friends, and any children you may have down the road. … If you decide to drive while drunk (and I certainly hope you don’t), your decision can very well impact you and others. You might get a ticket and lose your driver’s license. You might hit a pole and receive an increase in your insurance premium. You might cause an accident that hurts someone. … If you leave home to attend a university, your decision impacts your future roommate and your parents. If you stay at home and commute to a college, your decision affects your parents (maybe in some good AND bad ways!). … When you start working, where you chose to work (the company and the location) has consequences. If you chose to move to another part of the country or world for a job, you leave existing friends and make new ones. You leave one church and find a new one. If you’re not married, the location you move to will likely affect your choice of a partner. For example, if you chose to work as a single person in Los Angeles, you’re likely to meet your future spouse in Los Angeles. On the other hand, if you chose to work in Sydney, you’re likely to meet to meet your future spouse there. You may be the odds-breaker, but location impacts the friends you have, spouse selection, etc.

Some of you find this normal and accept it readily. Some of you are having a strong reaction. You may tell me that you’ll live in Los Angeles but meet your future spouse in London. Yes, that’s true. You might. What I’m trying to get across is that there are probabilities at play and that these probabilities are based upon the decisions you make. Again, you may be the exception but that doesn’t prevent the probabilities from being valid. If you live and work in Los Angeles as a single, you’re more likely to meet your future spouse in Los Angeles than you while visiting London on vacation. That’s not necessarily a negative thing. Nor a positive thing.

What I’m trying to get you to think about this week is that when you make a decision (especially a major decision) it impacts others. You may care or you may not. I’m just asking that you be aware and think through it. … A personal example, in 2006 I accepted a new job. At the time I was living in Phoenix, Arizona. The new job was located in a small town in South Carolina. My decision to accept the job not only impacted me, it impacted several others. Family living in Arizona were impacted. Friends living in Arizona were impacted. Future friends in South Carolina were impacted. My children were impacted. For instance, it influenced where the two oldest went to school when they graduated high school. One went to Wofford College and one went to Elon University. Both of these small, private schools accept students from Arizona, but it’s very unlikely that my kids would have chosen these schools. Possible but not probable. I’m not saying the decision was good or bad. I’m using it strictly to indicate that my decision in 2006 to accept the job in South Carolina and move from Arizona impacted others and its effects are widespread.

When someone commits a crime or does something noteworthy, it impacts their families, friends, and communities. Please think through major decisions before you make them. Please think about the consequences your actions (decisions) have on others beforehand. Consider the pros & cons to yourself but don’t be ignorant of the impact your choice has on those surrounding you.

What decisions do you have coming up? Have you thought through the impact? Whom does it impact? How does it impact others?


Photo by Author

Dr. is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]

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