Like many of you, I have never felt so disempowered. My ability to make decisions is limited at best. I am dealing with restrictions that I can’t control. I am waiting for the country to re-open, and I am concerned about the health and welfare of friends. And I yearn to be around my friends and colleagues. During times like these, it’s challenging to put on your leadership armor and lead effectively.
It’s hard to believe that in 12 short weeks (one quarter), not only have our lives been placed on hold, but our world has been turned upside down. Everything happened suddenly and without warning. We had zero time to prepare for stay-at-home orders, social and physical distancing, wearing masks, working from home, being school teachers, ending each day Zoomed out and, most importantly, the isolation.
If you are like me, you likely feel an increased level of stress. Sometimes you are frustrated and angry, wanting everything to go back to normal (even if that sucked). Other times you want radical change in the spirit of something better on the other side of this. All the while, you might be feeling lonely while facing so much uncertainty.
What is being tested most is the way we lead. How do we lead when the challenges and opportunities are much larger than ourselves? How do we make decisions when there is so much unknown, uncertainty, and disruption?
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No matter how you answer these questions, it’s essential to be kind to yourself. While some will enjoy rising to meet the circumstance, others may shrink from the moment, and many may experience paralysis and freeze. Regardless of where you start does not define where you end. Here is a prime example.
When COVID first began, I was in an in-depth discussion with my mentee, who was frozen. Before COVID, he was already contemplating several crucial business decisions. Then COVID hit and his business—like so many others—came to a standstill, and all plans went awry.
In one of our first conversations, I asked him, “What actions have you taken to move your business forward?”
“None,” he responded.
He was afraid of making the wrong decisions, so he was not making any decisions at all. He was trying to get his arms around all the uncertainty and wanted the answer to every question that he could conceive. His feelings of paralysis stemmed from trying to solve all his challenges—profitability, cash flow, team performance, client retention, and much more—at once.
Instead of finding a silver bullet solution, I encouraged him to identify a series of micro-decisions he could make to start to move forward. Over the next two weeks, we established a set of 12 small decisions. Some were the simplest of choices that he had been unable to see through the fog of the unknown. Some small steps were implemented immediately. Others required more research before implementation. Before you knew it, he was moving forward, making decisions navigating the COVID ocean of uncertainty.
You may find yourself in a similar situation too, my friend. Perhaps you feel frozen as you examine your business, team, career, and leadership potential. Much of what you had planned for the year may feel like it’s slipping away. As a result, you may be spending more time battling inertia instead of moving forward.
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To get back in the driver seat—and to start enacting the change you want most—you need to begin to make choices today. Take bold and decisive action, even in the smallest of ways. Don’t wait for the whole puzzle to come together before you act.
Here are three other things to consider:
- Mindset: All forward-moving choices begin with the power of your mindset being oriented towards growth. When making decisions, especially challenging ones, have a positive, open-minded, and critical mentality. We need to assure ourselves that we can make the right decisions even in difficult times, and we will learn from our choices, adapt when necessary and, most importantly, grow.
- Boldness: Newton’s first law of motion, the law of inertia, states: An object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion stays in motion. As leaders, we need to stay in motion by making bold, fast, adaptable decisions. Especially now, it can be hard to make decisions about the future. So instead, make a series of smaller choices with what you know today, but keep moving forward.
- Gratitude: We can choose to focus on the events that frustrate us, or we can decide to be grateful for all the small things. We live in a world of abundance, and we have a lot to appreciate. When we experience gratitude, we see a reduction of stress, improvement in sleep, and an increase in emotional awareness. Other benefits include more vitality, energy, enthusiasm. All are needed to make better choices with greater confidence.
In just a few days, more than 60 community leaders will come together to explore the power of choice at my next Inspired event, taking place on June 10. I am so excited about this event because we will dive into everything discussed above, and make sure we are cultivating the right behaviors and mindsets to move forward.
If you’re registered, I can’t wait to spend the afternoon with you! If you are not, drop me a note at email@example.com and we can add you to the wait-list and keep you posted on future Inspired events.
Until then, focus on the power of choice. Make decisions each day that keep you in control. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Be afraid, instead, of taking no step at all.