When you lead a business, making decisions is one of your responsibilities.
One of the first things you learn is that postponing choices that have to be made, or falling into a trap of indecisiveness, is a serious error. There are few challenges in life that are improved by procrastination.
The UK is at severe risk of making just such a mistake over our aviation policy. For years now, successive governments have put off decisions that must be made about our international links. Approaching elections, adverse media attention and a lack of insight into the value of competing policy options have all played their part, and all the main parties have repeatedly dropped the ball.
As a result, we are now at severe risk of falling behind our competitors.
On almost every measure, our position is under threat - or we have already been overtaken by more decisive countries. The number of destinations served by Heathrow, our only hub, has fallen from 227 in 1990 to 180 today. Far more Chinese tourists visit France than Britain. British business travellers flying indirectly are now as likely to go via Schiphol as via Heathrow.
Due to political paralysis, the situation is set to get worse, too. Our hub capacity at Heathrow is now full, demand in the South East (HKSE: 0726.HK - news) is set to outstrip the facilities of all the region's airports by 2030, we levy the highest taxes on flying in the world and our visa system is a costly, lengthy deterrent to the very visitors we should be seeking to attract.
The effects of these combined crunches are numerous and serious.
It is increasingly clear that the great economic race of the 21st century will be for countries in the developed world to compete for trade and business links with the BRICs and other fast-growing markets. Already, 59pc of IoD members believe that lack of capacity at Heathrow is harming our prospects of inward investment. We need an aviation policy to secure Britain's future.
This week, we published proposals for a comprehensive way forward. The key word here is comprehensive - this is not just about where to lay new tarmac.
The weight of evidence suggests that Britain needs at least one, and preferably two, new runways at Heathrow as well as a new expansion at Gatwick. That would address the twin crunches in capacity for hub demand and regional demand in the South East.
That is a controversial proposal, but it must be discussed and decided upon by the Government's Davies Commission, who are due to report back in 2015.
New runways cannot be the sum total of our approach, though. For a start, the potential impact of increased capacity on the environment and the quality of life of those living under flight paths must be addressed.
We propose a trade-off: if an airport is given permission to expand, then it must submit to strict environmental measures in return.
These would include an outright ban on the oldest planes using the airport along with restricted night flights, to cut down noise and emissions, and steeper angles of descent in order to reduce the time planes spend flying low over residential areas.
Of course, any new capacity will take years to put in place - particularly as no decision will be taken before the Davies reports in 2015.
In the meantime, we must take short term steps to make the best use of our existing facilities.
Some ideas which have been put forward in the past to squeeze in as many planes as possible at Heathrow, such as "mixed mode" operation, are simply not worthwhile. It would be unreasonable to impose a large negative impact on local residents for only a meagre increase in capacity.
Instead, the Government should pursue policies to leverage unused capacity elsewhere. Landing charges at Stansted and Gatwick should be deregulated to allow competition with Heathrow.
The Channel Tunnel, which only uses 50pc of its passenger capacity, must be opened up to new companies to compete better with Eurostar. Rail and airline ticketing should be integrated to encourage passengers to use the empty spaces at our regional airports.
Whatever happens in the short or long term to address our capacity shortage - and we have no other viable option other than to act to address it - there must also be steps to make Britain a more attractive place to fly to, from and through.
Air Passenger Duty (APD), when it was first introduced, was a relatively small charge: between £5 and £10 in 1994. It has since grown like knotweed - reaching anywhere between £13 and an eye-watering £184 depending on your destination of choice.
Small wonder, then, that people are deterred from picking Britain as a destination or stop-over point.
Holland once had an air passenger tax. They raised €300 million through it - a tidy sum. But when the Dutch Government commissioned a study on the wider economic impact, they discovered that it was costing the country €1.3 billion - not including lost inward investment.
Needless to say, they scrapped it swiftly after that. In fact, we are now one of only six EU countries which still has such a tax. If the impact on this country is comparable to the Dutch experience, then the £2.6 billion raised by APD for the Exchequer may be coming at an economic cost of £12 billion.
You don't need to own your own calculator to know that that is a bad way to do business.
Our visa system makes just as little sense. If an international traveller chooses Britain rather than the continental Schengen zone, they are rewarded with visa charges which are 50pc higher and twice as many questions to answer.
Is it really too much to ask that we at least bring our system into line with European competitors by reducing the cost and the burden of paperwork?
It is often said that Britain is a trading nation, well-placed to deal with the world. Those who say so are right - we speak a global language, our market is well-developed and richly varied, and our business community is the most imaginative, driven and professional in the world.
But those great resources will go to waste if we continue to dither about aviation policy. There is little value in having a lot to offer if you fail to put in place the infrastructure, tax and regulatory regimes to allow the world to gain access to it. Britain must act now - or we will be stuck on the ground while our competitors fly away into the sunset.
Ian Dormer is chairman of the Institute of Directors.