The Leading Edge – Taking Care of Business
Making Difficult Decisions
If you’re in business, making tough decisions comes with the territory and often they spill over into your personal life, which of course has its own raft of difficult decisions. So, what can you do to make things a little easier on yourself? Here are ten things to consider when that next doozy of a decision comes along to haunt you and interrupt your sleep.
- Don’t get hung up on being angry or upset. The situation sucks, it’s not as you would like it to be, but it is what it is. Get on with it, accept it and start with an open mind.
- Ask yourself; why is this decision so tough? What makes it tough? Listen to your instincts.
- Think about your level of investment in the situation. Is this current problem a result of past actions and/or events? Things you said or did? Things other people said or did? Now forget it all – the past is the past.
- Don’t leave making difficult decisions until late in the day; deal with them early in the morning when you are fresh and not jaded by all the crap you’ve had to deal with all day. Fatigue is the enemy of good decision-making.
- Don’t overthink challenges or situations-don’t make them more complicated than they are, or they need to be.
- Consider all your options and write them down. Write down the upsides and the downsides. Think of the consequences of each option and don’t focus on or jump to a quick fix. Quick fixes are rarely that in the long run.
- Take stock of resources available to you to help you make the decision, both your own and those you can bring onboard to assist you. Think information, and more importantly look for people with relevant knowledge, experience or skills who might assist you.
- Forget the past and look at each option as a fresh start based on moving forward. Which option has the best, or biggest upside? Imagine you have made a decision-what does that look like? What does it feel like?
- Try to imagine what you would advise a good friend, or perhaps your son or daughter to do in the same circumstances. Pull yourself out of the picture, pull your ego out of the situation.
- Once you decide on a course of action-once you make your decision, don’t second guess yourself. Often your first, gut instinct will be correct.
Life is full of tough decisions, but they don’t need to control your life. Don’t let every situation requiring a difficult decision become a burden; deal with it quickly, effectively and move on.
Setting Your Intentions for a Great Day
People who study and teach mindfulness, suggest we consider our intentions for the day by spending a few minutes, first thing every morning, considering what we intend to achieve and how we are going to actually follow through on those intentions. This is not about setting goals or objectives, but how we will live and interact with people; how we plan to ‘feel’ during the day and how we ‘touch’ the people we work with, our customers and the world in general. The idea is that our sub-conscious mind can affect the reality we experience. In terms of our business lives this can all seem a little hokey; how can simply voicing an intent have an effect on the outcome of our day?
Consider: if you intend to be happy and joyous today, you are far more likely to meet pleasant, positive people than if you don’t think about it at all. If on the other hand, you don’t set an intention at all and spend the day being miserable or worse emanating hostility, you are likely to meet a whole bunch of mean-spirited people. Our intentions can affect the quality of our day and the outcome of our interactions with customers, prospects or employees.
Intentions are by definition rather nebulous (unlike harder edged goals and objectives). We relinquish control, in part at least, to the ‘universe’ and trust that the outcome we intend will occur. Instead of being vigilant, we set an intention and let it loose. This is not to be confused with going through the day on autopilot, which is more akin to zoning out rather than having a focused underlying intent. Buddha said, “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.”
If you attend yoga classes you are probably familiar with setting intentions; many instructors start their sessions by asking participants to do just that-the problem is that most people jump to setting a goal or an objective such as work harder, sweat more, stretch further.
Intentions on the other hand, should be broad such as:
- I will keep an open mind today
- I will focus more on the present moment, rather than live in the past or the future
- I will welcome change and diversity
- I will be more patient
- I will listen more and talk less
- I will spend a few minutes today in peace (e.g. meditating)
Feel free to borrow one of the suggestions above, or better still come up with your own intentions. Intentions should always be framed as positives, not something like, “I’ll bite my tongue when someone upsets me.”
Setting intentions should become a daily habit, as ingrained as stretching when you wake or cleaning your teeth in the morning. It takes mere seconds to set your daily intention and you can keep the same one for several days, if you feel the need to put that intention out there until it takes root. It’s best if you write down your intentions somewhere where you can see them and refer to them regularly. Initially, try setting an early morning reminder on your smart phone-it can be just one-word intention.
Setting intentions everyday will make you more aware of what is really important to you at the core of your being. What it is that will make you happy, contented and successful.
Coach’s Corner – Learning Styles
Often our difficulties or challenges with others whether colleagues, subordinates, family members, or friends, is that of communication. Is what we think we have said the same as what others have heard? We will often realize that our ideas and directions have been interpreted in a very different way.
Listening obviously plays a major role in some of our miscommunications and we cannot always ensure that others are listening and understanding as clearly as we would like them to.
The other major factor is understanding people’s learning styles. Learning styles are essentially how people generally interpret the world. We each have our own dominant learning style and when we understand them both in ourselves and in others will certainly alleviate some of the problems arising in our communications.
The four most commonly known and understood learning styles are aural, physical, verbal, and visual. Aural relates to a preference of learning through talking and listening. A physical or kinesthetic learner is very much hands-on and tactile. Verbal learners have a preference for language that is both spoken and written. The fourth type is the visual learner, who best takes in information through pictures, videos, graphs, etc. Can you think of different people you know that gravitate to these learning styles? How do you communicate with them effectively?
Although the above four learning styles are the most commonly known, there are three others we may want to look at when we want to fully understand people we spend time with. These are best labelled logical, social, and solitary. A person who tends to be logical prefers systems and reasoning. The social learner finds learning within a group or team to be best for them. A solitary learner is comfortable working alone and very adept at self-study. Again can you think of a person that fits into one or more of these styles? For instance, a person may be a visual learner with a preference to work alone, while another is a physical learner enjoying the social environment. How would you best accommodate their styles?
As a leader, it is advantageous to know how people learn. Think of it in the same way that sometimes we are asked how we want to hear from a company-by phone, by mail, by email, or by text. By understanding how someone learns or prefers to take in information, we can adjust our approach to them in our communication.
Paul Abra, Motivated Coaching