Business owners face all sorts of problems other people don’t. I’m not talking about the annoying little things, such as IT problems, absenteeism, operational issues, etc. These are usually dealt with reactively and quickly.
I’m talking about the big issues business owners know they must deal with in the future. These include having difficult conversations with employees, suppliers and business partners; tax audits; and even court cases.
Many business owners I’ve dealt with have become paralysed by the knowledge of these unpleasant future events. They become obsessed with the possible negative outcomes and their day-to-day work suffers.
Sailors often face headwinds, yet they still get to their destination – not by sailing into the wind but by zig-zagging (tacking) their way. A sailor cannot rely on a favourable change of wind. Waiting is not an option.
How we handle our time affects how we handle a known major problem. There are generally two ways we handle time in a situation like this. The first is that we feel we’re on a conveyor belt taking us towards the event – there’s nothing we can do about it and we become so focused on this possible bad event that we don’t function properly. The second is that we decide to stride towards the event so we are in control of everything (or at least we feel we are).
There is a feeling of inevitability when something moves towards us. But when we move towards it, there is a feeling of choice.
Numerous research studies, including Does Time Really Slow Down During a Frightening Event? by Stetson, Fiesta and Eagleman, confirm that when we are afraid, time slows. Whether it is skydiving, bungee jumping or worse, being held captive with the threat of death, time can slow dramatically.
When faced with major future events, business owners should:
- Decide to move towards the event.
- Plan for the event as if it was happening tomorrow.
- Establish the worst-case scenario.
- File it away until the day you must deal with it – your preparation is all done.
- Accept that, irrespective of the outcome, life will continue afterwards.
I help business owners deal with difficult situations to avoid the paralysis and overwhelm that prevents them from doing the things they should be doing. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.