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When Things Look Grim, Be Quick to Accept the Downside
When matters unravel, the imagination runs wild with the harmful consequences that might occur. The worry over what might happen can be a huge distraction that gets in the way of sound thinking and quality decisions.
As people fret over the negative possibilities, they often have a hard time viewing issues objectively and acting rationally. Fixating on the worst outcome can quickly become debilitating.
The truth is, we usually exert very little influence on extreme outcomes. We only fully control the decisions we make now. So, when the catastrophic consequences are beyond a leader’s control, they have to find a way not to allow the potential liabilities to overwhelm their ability to make quality decisions. The only way to do that is to presume the worst will likely happen, push that reality aside, and then focus on what can be done in the present.
The sooner a leader accepts a wildly speculative downside and presumes it will likely happen, the more objective their decision-making will become. Obsessing over what might happen doesn’t allow the mind to think clearly. Acceptance is the key. Once leaders accept the worst case, it frees them to focus on what can be controlled in the present.
The idea that acceptance will likely make the outcome self-fulfilling presumes the leader has some influence on the outcome. If that is the case, they need to work hard to avoid whatever consequences they can. But in many cases, the end result is completely out of their hands. It is in this scenario that accepting the worst will liberate the mind and spirit.
Presuming the information will come out, the other party will engage in bad faith, the financial picture will be horrendous, or the illness will take the life of a loved one is never easy. But the sooner a leader accepts the reality that is likely and beyond their control (if that is the case), the more they can focus on what to do without constant worry, grief, and distraction.