Sliding Doors, Decision making

That Sliding Doors Moment.

The decision making process.

I’m sure that we have all had moments in our lives when we reflect back on our decision making process and ask ourselves “What if I’d made a different decision back then? I wonder how things would have turned out?” And thereby hangs the problem. We can’t go back, but we can take another course of action at this moment, right now, with the extra knowledge and experience gained since.

Take my own personal situation as an example. I had worked for many years for large corporate businesses in London and also had a spell in New York. If I hadn’t proposed a decent business case to my then boss, I wouldn’t have eventually had the opportunity to work in the Big Apple. It might have taken 3 years to get there but I had no idea at the time that I would even get the slightest chance to work in Manhattan.

In 2004 I quit corporate world and retrained for a few months to become a stress management coach. It was just something that fitted with me very well from a work and personal basis and I started to build my first business. I have met some wonderful people on my journey, some have become associates of my business while others have become long standing corporate and personal clients. Over the years I have expanded my service offering and through more learning and qualifications, have introduced new aspects to the business, sometimes driven by my clients wishes.

I was asked recently if I have ever regretted anything since I have been in business. I considered my own decision making process.  Perhaps I had made some bad decisions along the way? The short answer is that I have never regretted a single moment. I know I might have missed some potential opportunities but if the way forward is not entirely clear, then you probably have your answer.

The life lesson here is, if you feel that you have made a mistake, learn from it, don’t repeat that particular behaviour and move on!

I could have regretted one particular aspect and perhaps I should have had my eyes open wider. But what I learnt during that period set me up to launch another business and took me back to my City roots. That led me on an entirely different journey into some fantastic partnerships and opportunities. I was now running two businesses and loving every minute!

So back to Sliding Doors, one of my all time favourite films starring Gwyneth Paltrow, John Hannah and John Lynch. You may recall the plot:

Gwyneth Paltrow was playing Helen Quilley, who had just been fired from her PR job. She left her office, got into the lift and dropped an earring on the floor. James Hammerton (played by John Hannah) picks up the earring and gives it back to her. She rushes for her Tube train but misses it and then the storyline splits into two stories, parallel universes if you like.

What if Sliding Doors was an indication about how our lives actually pan out? During our decision making process we decide on one path when we could have taken another. Conscious Vs Unconscious thinking perhaps? What might have happened if we had taken the other path, or made a different decision? We may never know the answer but what I do know is that we can do something right now. The thing to remember is that we are in control of two main elements. Our thoughts and our actions. They belong to us, so we are in charge. We may be influenced from time to time by external forces but come back again to what we are in charge of and take your time with those all important decisions, both in life and business.

This may not always be a simple process and here’s why. To put this in a bit more context, the human brain has something in the region of 50,000 – 80,000 thoughts a day, way too many to process. And we can meet someone new and decide in 7-10 seconds if we like them, can trust them, assess their dress sense etc etc. Now there is a real sliding doors moment for you! It’s not surprising then that we may miss opportunities or that things pass us by.

Finally, that little clip from Sliding Doors says it all.

“Cheer up. Remember what the Monty Python boys say”.

“Always look on the bright side of life”?

“No, nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.”

Ian Barratt


Leadership and Team Development | Positivity and Mental Toughness  | Managing Workplace Stress & Improving Resilience | Time Management