Get a grip and have a plan!

Your worst fears and fondest expectations rarely become a reality

It’s 3 a.m., and your mind is racing as you ponder your worst fears. If your business is going through a bad spell, all you can think about are more troubles and ultimate failure. But conversely, if all is going far better than expected, your thoughts become near manic as you fantasize that the best is yet to come, with your fondest expectations and wildest hopes finally within easy reach.

It happens to the best of us, and my solution is to get out of bed to clear your head of all these frantic business thoughts. Take a brief walk through the house and focus solely on what you’re seeing, not what you’ve been thinking. Grab a sip of water and lay down again; try a few deep breaths and get a grip.

In business and life, when things are bad, you think it’s over, and you can only worry about failing, disappointing others, or worse. But, if you don’t get a grip, you can look forward to another three or four more hours of sleeplessness, tossing and turning until the sky turns from the dread of night to a more hopeful light of dawn.

It can be productive to have these thoughts, provided they don’t become an obsession, riddled with fear of the unknown or grandiose delusions.

Leadership mandates constantly assessing alternatives. Initially, it can be a solitary process until the more probable likelihoods manifest themselves in a loosely structured Plan A, for the best, and Plan B representing the worst.

As I’ve written in previous columns, a good starting point for developing fixes is a well-constructed list of actions to ameliorate pain points. Once you have your first draft of the scenarios of bad, better, or good resolutions for the debacle on which you’re obsessing, the next step is to take a timeout. After a brief recess, begin fine-tuning alternatives, preferably not while in bed, to whittle down possibilities to a narrower list of more likely contingencies/strategies that could be employed. Finally, it’s now time to take what’s keeping you awake and translate everything into a narrative synopsis of cause-and-effect solutions to share with your associates/team or whomever you rely on for a sanity check.

Following input from colleagues, begin to convert your scenarios into specific action steps. As a failsafe, also include what can be done if there’s a further degradation of issues that reach a watermark redline level. If this occurs, though usually it won’t, at least you won’t have to start from scratch on devising a strategy if everything hits the fan at once and you move to near panic mode.

On the flip side, when great things happen, first enjoy the run because nothing lasts forever. Also, consider pulling excess cash from the pot to create a bigger reserve for what may come next. Continue, however, to dream, dare and do as opportunities emerge.

Business success is based on the philosophy of “carpe diem” or “seize the day,” and ups and downs are what come with the territory. Therefore, the best safety net is always to be prepared to get a grip and follow your plan during good or challenging times. ●

Visit Michael Feuer’s website to learn more about his columns, watch videos and purchase his books, “The Benevolent Dictator” and “Tips From The Top.”

Michael Feuer

Founder, CEO