Here’s the takeaway: Worrying about making decisions is a waste of time and energy. Stop doing it.
Four times this week, I got to work with people who felt they were in really tight spots when it came to having crucial conversations. They were investing a huge amount of energy in this process. For many of us, the amount of time we spend trying to avoid having these conversations is enormous. When I’m working with leaders, one of the primary challenges they face is worrying in advance when they know they need to make a tough decision.
Maybe it’s helping someone find a different career path outside of your organization. Maybe it’s getting rid of a client. These challenges can be hard, but they are part of many job descriptions and sometimes these things must be done. Even though we probably know what the answer is, we’re often scared to death of doing it. This is where we enter the doom loop: a cycle of worry that just keeps going round and round while fully embracing conflict avoidance. I used to be the king of doom loops because of my own challenges with dyslexia and the way that I write. In college, I had to take Accounting 401 four because I wrote numbers backwards. I would make myself sick with worry about the damn test. If I had spent half of that energy focusing on what I needed to study, learning tricks to write numbers more effectively, and let the worry go, it would have been so much easier.
I have worked with a few people lately going through transitions in their senior leadership teams. When I ask people to talk about what they have to do, nine times out of ten, they know exactly what needs to be done. But, they’ve stopped themselves from actually doing it because they’re worried about this or that and have lost total control of the narrative in their head. They’re putting themselves in positions of hell by worrying instead of saving time, being compassionate and reserving energy by doing what they need to.
So, when I am working with someone who is dealing with a prickly issue, my first point of advice is to review your options and then make the call. Right or wrong is better than waffling. Give it a “hell no” or a “hell yes”. You’re either all in or you’re all out. The only option between those two answers is the overlap, and that’s just hell. Do it or don’t do it, but the amount of time and energy we spend trapped in doom loops is crazy. So, figure it out, weigh your options, and go for it. No matter what, even if you were wrong, the ending will be better than spending 90% of your energy worrying about taking action.
If you have questions about having these conversations and how to prepare for them, let me know. I’m happy to help anytime, and I know what it’s like to worry about these same issues. Please feel free to reach out.