16 Jun How Far to the Other Side?
As we exit the pandemic of 2020, and lives and work begin to return from the uncertainties of late winter and spring, we can only be really certain that uncertainty will come back again, this year, next, or maybe later. Entrepreneurs, young companies, and start-up businesses know this all too well.
Large companies know this too, but with large staffs and big budgets and far-reaching infrastructure, they are often able to either overwhelm the unexpected or simply ride out the storm. But the smallest and newest among us don’t usually have those options. Consultants and coaches and business advisors have inspirational axioms for us; a tree grows deeper roots in the storm; life begins outside the edges of our comfort. But many of us would possibly prefer the path of constant calm and take the trade-off of a little less crisis management on our resumes.
Still, in the entrepreneurial world, that’s not likely. So, where do we begin to wrestle with and beat the unexpected? While we may not think it or believe it, we are all trained to solve these unexpected business problems from a young age, even if we have never come across them before. This is true because it’s all about the process; about having a thoughtful way to the other side, whether it’s a business problem or a personal one? Shouldn’t a thoughtful and proven problem-solving roadmap lead us most often to a good or at least as a good-as-possible outcome. If we have such a process, we may, in time, get to trust it as much as our Uber driver trusts his iPhone directions to drop us on the doorstep of our intended location, one that we offered up to him an hour earlier from the backseat.
I’m one of the founders of Qmetis, a New York-based healthcare technology firm, and I’m not an expert in anything. That’s what a liberal arts education can do for you. But unless you’re a slinky, you haven’t had as many ups and downs as we have had. I’ve seen the unexpected sneak it’s way back into Qmetis more than the zero times I wished for. But despite those days where you do say, “geez, I just want to go make the doughnuts,” the other side is often much closer than you think. Much closer and faster. Here are some thoughts we’d share on getting to that other side.
Breathe. Your yoga teacher may tell you this ten times in a 75-minute class, but tell it to yourself when you get that email or text or phone call that leads you to say, “what just happened?”
Panic. Sure, it’s human nature, but it’s unhelpful, so do it for a minute and move along.
Find a yellow pad—the iconic and time-tested weapon of problem-solving. Take a moment on your own perhaps before so much other opinion is offered to address, and find or quickly go buy some yellow pads, (they have to be yellow, not sure why, but it’s almost scientific that they work better), and write down the problem, what are the possible solutions, and the pros and cons of each one.
Light the beacons. As Gandolf, the Great urged the King of Gondor, “Light the Beacons.” Entrepreneurs have a discoverer’s spirit, but even discoverers took crews with them across oceans. Reach out to your trusted advisors and get their advice. When they begin to offer it, become the world’s greatest listener, at least for a day.
See Beyond the Solutions. Whatever the issue, there are specific solutions you’ll offer up, and each will have consequences. There’s a pretty good chance you could end up in a better place. But beyond solving the immediate problem, take some time to envision what the new company, and the better you, looks like.
Trust Yourself. Would it seem impossible to have business problems if you don’t have a business? Yet if you’ve started one, you’ve likely tackled harder issues than the ones that popped up out of nowhere. But you did, and you’re still here.
Visualization. Golfing great Fred Couples when asked what he was thinking when he would stare down the fairway before hitting his shot would say, ‘I’m watching the beautiful shot, I’m about to hit.” The great self-help leaders all talk about visualization as a critical component of, as one of the seven or sometimes eight steps in manifestation. Do it. See yourself beyond the problem; calm and driving forward once again.
This last thought on visualization may well be the most important of all. Aside from the yellow pads, of course.