How To Make Healthy Decisions No Matter What The Situation
Fear (in all its forms) is likely the most crippling and detrimental emotion we’ll ever experience. Think back. How many things have you left undone because of fear? How many bad decisions have you made in times of utter anxiety?
As a business you come up against all sorts of things that can incite fear: financial issues, manufacturing issues, personnel, mistakes, bad press, and about 1 million other unexpected circumstances.
The same is also true about life outside of business.
Yet, as a leader, you have to transcend the urge to react out of that fear if you’re going to lead effectively.
Stop Making Fear-Based Decisions
One of my/our core values is to NOT make fear-based decisions. That’s a lot easier said than done. However, decisions based on fear are fundamentally NOT SOUND decisions. Fear is not a productive state to live in and what’s worse is that it spreads like wildfire. Fear is not fact. Fear is inherently irrational.
By the way, this doesn’t mean you should ignore facts, be complacent, and live in denial. However, this does mean that you need to work hard to identify fear, stop it, and create a path forward that is sound and rational based on truth. It’s the difference between responding to a situation with poise versus reacting to a situation in distress.
This distinction is more important than ever in light of recent world events. If you watch the news, monitor the stock market, keep up with politics, scroll Instagram, or listen to any news about the Coronavirus, it’s impossible to not be overwhelmingly tempted by anxiety and fear. But here’s the thing: uncertainty is everywhere. What is certain is that no matter what, there will always be something to be worried about.
In today’s society, anxiety and depression rates are at historic highs fueled by the overwhelming amount of information we are all hit with every day. To make it worse, it’s nearly impossible to decipher truth from exaggeration or blatant lies.
So in this climate, how do we operate and make quick and healthy decisions that are not influenced by fear? More importantly, how do we as leaders and as businesses with influence stop the spread of fear and spread truth, poise, and faith instead?
As I mentioned, one of the things I focus on every day is operating out of a position of poise, faith, and truth— not fear. How?
In this article, I’m going to share a simple four-step leadership framework that will help you release the grip of fear on your decision-making. This is by no means a switch that you flip and all your problems go away. But this is a system that walks you through dealing with tough situations that will inevitably arise. Assuming you have the mental toughness required, this framework provides a process for taking action from the right mindset.
First: Preparation and Conditioning
As a prerequisite, it’s important to accept that conditioning, discipline, practice, and preparation are all key strategies in being able to respond using this system (or any other). You cannot expect to combat the fear, anxiety, and hysteria of life and make level-headed decisions while bringing certainty amidst the chaos around you without exercising the mental capacity needed to give you that will-power. This includes your physical, mental, and spiritual health. Condition as if you were a pro athlete. Prepare as if your life depended on it (because it does). Have faith in something greater than yourself, seek wisdom, and get outside advisors in your life.
Second: The 4 Steps to Making Healthy Decisions
1. Stop your mind in its tracks.
Before your brain gets too far down the rabbit hole, you need to actively interrupt your thought pattern. Assuming this isn’t a truly emergent situation that requires immediate action, what you’re experiencing is actually a form of PTSD. Find a way to restore calm. A few great tactics include practicing gratitude, meditation, worship, prayer, and breathing exercises. There are tons of apps out there to have handy on your phone for this purpose, but the best one requires no phone – take a walk. Ultimately, you need to take your time to get away and get untriggered before you act.
2. See things for what they are and nothing more.
Step back and understand the facts. Your brain will be running a story that is likely not reality. Step outside of yourself and observe the facts, and nothing more. This may mean researching what you’re afraid of, but be careful in doing so. You don’t want the opinions of people and media. You want facts.
What sources can you trust? Well, you can only trust sources whose interests are aligned with yours. Believe it or not, that is not the news media. The news media’s interest is viewership (like it or not), which means selling ads and therefore the thrive on you being triggered. That’s fine for entertainment if you choose, but that’s not the information you should use to make decisions.
Once you understand the facts, share them carefully. Fear is like a disease. Contain it rather than spread it, unless necessary. Keeping things on a need to know basis is the key especially within your organization.
3. See things for better than they are.
“You don’t always get to choose your circumstances, but you get to choose the story you tell yourself”
What are the opportunities and learnings available in this situation? This may be hard to see. You may need to ruminate and do some soul searching to find it. Having a connection to something greater than yourself is really useful here. Ultimately, whether you like it or not, there is only one direction you can go – forward. That being the case, the best option you have is to stop wishing for a time machine and forget what happened and find the good in it.
This is where so many people get stuck, and it is hard, but leadership and business is hard. If you get stuck in the what-could-have-been you’re finished.
4. Create a plan forward.
This is where the actual decision takes place. Now that you’re of a sound mind, you have the facts, and you can see a glimmer of hope, you have to make your move. As a leader you are the one that others are looking to for the plan. What are we going to do now? Take your time with this. This plan should be based on what you believe in and what you know to be true. Do not buy into the pandemonium, the conjecture, or the guttural anxiety. Plan a calm and strategic path forward based on the new vision and rally people around that cause.
So What, Now What?
Clearly this framework is easier said than practiced. It doesn’t just come naturally, because fear is a normal human response. Overcoming that fear takes discipline, conditioning, health, self-control, and a proper understanding of your mind and body connection. But we all know that’s your job as a leader. It’s a responsibility that comes with the territory. No matter where you find yourself leading and whether you realize it or not, your team is watching you. And as a business, the world is watching you. You set the tone for how to handle any given situation, not only with your words but with your actions and emotions as well.
In our time, our businesses have the incredible opportunity to lead our culture by example. We have a great responsibility and can help rather than hurt. And helping starts with allowing truth to lead you and your organization— not fear.
If you do just one thing: Spread Truth Not Fear.
Have questions or want more information on the practice of not making fear-based decisions? Feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn or Facebook.