Of Z And Thee

A setback slammed into you on a Friday. It was unexpected. It was on a large scale. It was quickly told to other people. By Monday, if not sooner, you’re trying to recover.

We’ve just summarized the recent past of Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. Over the course of a day, his company lost $123 billion, more than the gross domestic product of Kuwait and the largest single business loss ever.

We don’t know the depths of such an event. But we can know some of the leadership aspects of the moment and, in so doing, prepare for when something similar in our world happens to us.

Permit me to share a few thoughts for your consideration.

  • Because many already know about the setback, many will be watching for your reaction and response. They’ll remember what you do, how you do it. You’re making history whether you like it or not, whether you’ve chosen it or not. The question is what type of history you’re making. In a situation that likely offers you little control, especially early on, you can control your reaction and response.
  • One of the worst things in this situation is to respond emotionally in your key decisions. Emotions can’t be kept entirely out of it, that’s not practical. They can even be a positive force. However, you should do your best to know what the key decisions will be and, in those situations, do everything possible to keep emotions under control. Some decisions and scenes may allow for emotionality; in those cases, go ahead, be emotional. But remember that the truly key decisions will not unfold well if you fail to hold your emotions in abeyance. 
  • There’s an important balance to be struck. I’m referring to collaboration versus going-it-alone. You want to involve other people. Their input will help your decisions reach a higher level of quality than if it’s you deciding by yourself. They may also provide a healthy context for your emotions. There will be a threshold, though, when collaboration takes you to a moment when decisions can’t be made quickly or clearly enough. At that moment, collaboration becomes secondary to your individual decisiveness. It’s your call then. And don’t try to hide behind the consensus of collaboration to shield the potential fallout of the next wrong decision. 
  • Another key balancing act is data-presence versus data-absence. The bigger this setback that you’ve experienced, the more likely data won’t be either abundant or available. You’ll need to go with your instinct, your gut. A huge point of discernment will be for you to know that your instinct isn’t a euphemism for your emotions. Such discernment will help you tamp down impulsiveness. Another element is to recognize that at least some data can still be found on an immediate basis. It just won’t be to the extent you’d prefer or even in the form you’d prefer. Data is there; use it. After that, go with your gut and your instincts. These instincts will act as the bridge to your next decision, the bridge over the gap and gulf of absent data. 
  • Don’t replay the near-term past looking for missed clues that, in hindsight, signaled or presaged the setback. There will be time for that shortly. Just don’t take that time right now. And then there’s this, too: the more people you involve in your collaboration (see point #3 above), the greater the chance that someone will want to replay the past at this very instant. Shut them down—because if you don’t you risk descending into finger-pointing and backside-covering at this juncture—again, there will be time for that in a bit. 
  • Keep an eye on speed. Our bias in 2018 is speed is vital. We’re told constantly that delay kills, pause kills, inaction kills. Maybe. But speed and the pace of time can be relative things. Ask yourself if you have more time than you first assume or that others first assume. Are there things around you that make speed especially important. Is the risk really so great that it kills any chance of reflection?
  • Lastly, get above yourself for a period of time. I’m referring to whatever body of thought, values, principles, and traditions you subscribe to in your personal faith. Go to prayer or meditation or standing on your head in the shower; whatever it is, and it’s none of my business as to your ways, get there in this time of difficulty. I’d urge you to do this more than once in the white-hot intensity of the first hours and days after the setback.

More can be said. These seven points will, I think, get your started. Let’s hope you never have to invoke them. My warning, though, is that life won’t allow you to avoid it. Use Z for thee.

Thanks for reading. All the best, Dan

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