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I was stopped on a small goat trail near the peak of Mount Fitzwilliam, frozen by indecision.
It was the summer of 1996 and I was following my buddy Terry Brock on a expedition in B.C.’s Mount Robson Provincial Park.
I couldn’t go forward and I knew I couldn’t go backward. I was scared and couldn’t move.
Looking down, I quickly understood that one mistake in my footing would result in a tumble down 1,000 feet of rock to certain injury or perhaps worse.
We’ve all been there: frozen by indecision about the best way to go when challenged by precipitous choices.
I had a client who was frozen last week, unsure what he should do in his business. The moment I walked into his establishment, I knew something was up. The staff members were tense and he looked upset.
As we walked to his office, he voiced concerns about the changes happening and how his staff members were taking it. He’d made some notes about what he thought he might do but told me he’d just been staring at the options for hours, not sure of what to do next. He was overwhelmed by his own inaction and inability to make a decision.
The COVID-19 crisis has created circumstances unprecedented in recent history. Only in times of war have businesses been forced to close for extended periods, and we haven’t seen that in the Western world since the Second World War.
Not only has the supply chain dried up for many businesses, so have their customers. People aren’t coming into businesses and sales teams aren’t permitted to go out and sell.
The challenge for many business leaders seems overwhelming and many are frozen by indecision about what to do next.
When another one of my clients was forced to shut down his business last week, I asked him what he was going to do.
He told me he was contacting his landlord, bankers and suppliers to tell them what he was doing and ask for extended terms. He was laying off his employees so they could collect unemployment insurance since he couldn’t pay them. He also said he was going to take this time to re-evaluate and reset his business.
He had a plan and moved through the steps to make it a reality.
This was a different approach than the one my first client took. He didn’t have a plan and as a result was overwhelmed. He hadn’t considered the best, worst or most probable options, and then worked through them like the second client did.
Without a plan, we become frozen.
And when we try to do things alone, we can’t lift the burden. The burden is heavy right now and most business owners have only day-to-day plans – they feel they’re forced to focus on the immediate.
However, by taking a few hours to work through the options for the next 90 days, businesses and organizations can develop plans that not only spur on action but reduce stress.
Leaders need help to shoulder the burden of decision-making. If you haven’t created a culture in your business where you tap into the brains and wisdom of your employees, the time is now.
Developing a process of 90-day planning will not only help you get through the current crisis, it will help you position your business for future successes. If you need guidelines on how to create a 90-day plan with your team, fire me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll send you my template.
High up on the goat trail, I had to evaluate my options to overcome my fears. Once I started walking again, my anxiety of falling subsided.
My second client came up with a plan that enabled him to move forward as well. By the time I left, he was smiling and so were his staff.
Things are extremely challenging for many organizational leaders, but having a plan and examining your options will reduce your stress and the stress of your employees.
Troy Media columnist David Fuller, MBA, is a certified professional business coach and author who helps business leaders ensure that their companies are successful. David is author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy. Frozen? Email email@example.com it won’t be something you regret!
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