I noted an interesting statistic today. The most popular post on this BLOG relates to dealing with stress. This has got me thinking… Since October 2008, what is on most people’s minds is the financial crisis and how this continuing crisis is going to impact our companies, our investments, our finances and our personal lives.
What does financial stress have to do with leadership? Everything! If you are feeling nervous, anxious or even outright terror at the thought of not making ends meet, the first person for you to lead is yourself. It is very difficult to be creative, resourceful and confident when you are dealing with the various mind-numbing hormones we experience as fear.
So how do you lead yourself?
Often (but not always) our mind speculates as to what could happen and we conjure up images of the worst case scenario, which in most cases turns out to be worse than reality.
Leading yourself requires objectivity. If you consider the worst case scenario versus the best case scenario, first figure out ways you can live with the worst case. Then from this place, you can calmly consider possible courses of action that you could take to avert the worst case. And in most cases, reality tends to be somewhere in between the worst and the best case.
On the other hand, if you avoid the worst case, pretend it won’t happen (denial), and go on as if nothing is going to happen… you have a very good chance of going through the worst case scenario in reality!
So accepting the worst case allows you to let go of the fear and to think calmly of what can be done with the resources at hand. Once you have a number of items that you can take action on immediately, a strange thing happens. Fear turns to confidence… confusion is replaced with clarity.
Having a plan – any plan – is far better than no plan at all. At least with a plan you have certainty of what you can do. And if it does not work, you can at least be confident in the knowledge that you succeeded in finding out what does not work. Then you can try another approach, and another… until you succeed. Accepting the worst case and then having a plan will reduce your stress, especially when you take action on your plan.
Another possibility is to look at the financial crisis as an opportunity. This will empower you to make changes that you would not otherwise make. Oftentimes, when things don’t flow, we have an opportunity to examine why they are not flowing. Whereas, when the money is easily flowing, we would continue on unchanged and not question what we are doing.
So the financial crisis is an ideal opportunity to re-examine what is flowing and what isn’t so we can make different choices.
Over the next few days and weeks we will write more about stress, the financial crisis and how to cope with it. Stay tuned.