LOOKING FORWARD TO A CRISIS (something we were thinking about today)

So, the General Election is upon us and there’s some change about to happen (and of course we love change, whatever form it takes, even if we choose to love it!). This got us thinking that not all of the change will be good as at some point someone may have to tell us just how bad the economy really is and the doom and gloom, bust and buster could be about to happen all over again.

Even if you don’t ascribe to the Private Fraser view to life and think “we’re doomed”, understanding that the conditions might change for the worse and finding a way to look forward to the inevitable change is a worthy mindset and one that will no doubt create a competitive advantage.

So, using the notion of “looking forward”, in both meanings of the term, there’s some recommendations that spring out as a result of things we’ve experienced in the worlds of elite sport and business.

First, find the things that you actually can look forward to about impending crisis. The answers may not be immediately obvious, but once you find them, things start to change pretty quickly. So, ask yourself some questions:

  • What new things will you be able to find out about yourself when the conditions really mean winning will be much tougher?
  • What existing crisis management skills do you have that you can look forward to testing out to see just how good they are?
  • What new opportunities will arrive that mean you’ll have different ways of “winning”?
  • What opportunities does a crisis create for you to differentiate your brand for when the crisis is over?
  • Does your psychology actually lend itself to performing in a crisis? (we know some of you really love adversity, challenge, pessimism and winning ugly – so if that’s you, your time may be here again!)
  • Are there great working relationships to cement in place by enduring a tough performance environment together?

If you can find some answers that spark some motivation and intrigue about performing in a crisis, then you’re moving in the right direction.

The next recommendation we’d make would be to ensure that you look forward in terms of doing a bit of prediction so that you can manage expectations early and have a clear picture of success to be working towards. Too oftenin a crisis goals remain the same and the obsession with outcomes heightens – (remember, under pressure dominant habits come out!). In a crisis you will have much more success by obsessing about delivering the inputs as consistently and effectively as possible. You will have very little, other than a stomach ulcer, if you stick rigidly to hitting targets that have been set when the conditions were favourable. Therefore, define success in terms of “how” we’re going to perform and the essential daily attitudes and behaviours that will maximise the chances of getting great results when all of the inputs are added up.

In order to have  maximum trust in the day to day recipe that you’re going to employ, you really have to look forward and develop as much trust and belief as possible in your recipe for success. Taking the time now to look forward and recalibrate your view of success will ensure that you will have the greatest sense of control and confidence possible when the crisis button gets pressed.

The third thing that we’d suggest for performing in a crisis is to become world class at staying in the moment (pause), once you’ve done the forward planning. Being in the moment makes sure you spend more energy on dealing with the conditions that you’re in than you do on wishing you weren’t in them. It’s easier said than done, but there will be organisations that are so good at telling everyone how terrible the crisis is and if only the conditions were different they’d be doing better, that they’ll perish. Delivering excellence in a crisis requires the paradoxical approach of immersing yourself fully into it so that you take each step with maximum clarity and you deal with the exact conditions that you’re facing. Wishing the crisis was over as quickly as possible and taking “flight”, rather than having a clear thinking “fight”, will always lead to rushed decisions, missed information and opportunities, and a sense of fear. Immerse youself into the situation, slow down so that you control the here and now, rather than trying to control the future before you are fully armed with the facts.

There’s many a quote available that outlines the importance off lessons learned by key individuals during particularly tough times. It really does seem that despite the adversity felt at the time, the lessons that result from the toughest battles do have the greatest impact on shaping future attitudes and behaviours. So, if nothing else, if there’s a crisis around the corner, you know you’re going to have some career defining learning take place and entering the crisis with a clear picture of what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it, will ensure you’re truly looking forward to the knowledge that you’re going to gather and how you’re going to be a better performaner as a result of choosing to exploit the crisis rather than have it exploit you.