Some see retreat as a failure. Others see it as a strategic win. How do you view retreating?
Pulling away from something is not a failure in itself. It can be the best answer to a situation that is not working for you. Some have a hard and fast view of retreating – you can find many quotes that say “never retreat”. What if you realize you are going in a wrong direction? What if you are up against a no-win situation? Are you supposed to keep going until you drop, just for the sake of never giving up?
Not necessarily. You are supposed to make the best of every situation you are in. Sometimes, retreating is the best course. Temporarily retreating allows you to rethink and regroup. Retreating for good lets you put your energies to something that will pay off for you.
Deciding when to retreat is a serious undertaking. It requires your discernment and strategic skill. You do not need a ban on retreating. Instead, you need the ability to perceive when it is the right time to retreat.
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To lead effectively, it is essential to be aware of what is around you. Doing so, allows you to gauge what are the best decisions and actions to make in a given situation. Operating in a vacuum brings you alone to the table. Plugging in to personalities, cultural values, sensitivities, agendas, relevant facts and desired outcomes allows you to make decisions and take actions that move a situation forward.
How plugged in are you as you work and manage each day?
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1. Try 15 minutes of silence at the beginning or end of day. Work up to it, if 15 minutes is a lot for you right now.
2. Find ways to recognize when you are overthinking.
3. When you are overthinking, stop and get yourself fully into the present moment.
4. Try writing things down instead of keeping them in your head.
5. Try an app such as Calm
6. Before you go to sleep just “be”. Do not read or otherwise tax your mind.
7. Observe if there is a pattern in your overthinking, such as in specific situations, at certain times or for certain subjects.
8. Put some focus on balance. Are you countering stress with exercise and relaxation?
9. Determine if reluctance to make decisions is contributing to your overthinking.
10. Do not allow your mind to be king or queen. Acknowledge that the physical, emotional and ethereal aspects of your life are equally important.
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After writing my last blog post, Your Past Informing Your Present, I thought about how your present might inform your past. Yes, that’s not the usual way we go; however there is something to it.
If you look at your past actions, attitudes and decisions from the vantage point of now, there’s a good chance you are wiser and more experienced than you were then. Evaluating past actions is a practice of continuous improvement, if you do it well.
You carry your past throughout your life. Why not use it to your advantage? What might you have done differently in the past, if you knew what you know today?
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Loomio software is a collaborative decision-making tool that fits well into the concept of Free Flow Management. Loomio “enables more transparency and inclusion in decision-making with fewer meetings and e mails”. Its online platform facilitates gathering people, on-topic conversations, visual summaries and clear outcomes.
How does your organization make decisions? Would you say your decisions flow freely or are you bogged down in meetings and email? Our new methods of communication have their advantages, but we do get bogged down with them. New decision-making approaches are called for. It is time well spent for your organization to look at the efficiency and flow of your decision-making and find innovative ways to keep your programs and processes flowing smoothly.
Indecision is tough. Everyone, in varying degrees, experiences it. You need time to make a decision – that’s a given. However indecision, if allowed to go on too long, can paralyze you.
How can you get through indecision? Here are a few ideas:
• Give yourself a break. Your decisions are not set in stone. They are only set in the present moment, with the information you have available to you. Know that your past decisions do not own you. You can change a decision if things change in the future.
• Trust yourself that you are ready to make a decision. Your mind may play games telling you that you are not capable or ready, but you are.
• Do your best to let go of an expectation that you will make a perfect decision. Such a thing doesn’t exist. You can strive to make the best decision possible for you and that is pretty good.
• Do your best to identify your fears regarding a decision. What is the nature of your fear? Is it real or made-up? Figure out how can you confront any fears you encounter. Act in spite of the fear, knowing that you have thought the decision out as best you can.
You alone walk your journey. Only you can keep your feet moving on your path. Walk at the pace that works for you and keep yourself in motion.
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Always, there are multiple ways to view things. Keep this in mind, when you get into a difficult situation. Take a moment and step away. Identify the lens you are looking through and try out other ways of looking at the situation. Stepping back and identifying multiple ways to view a situation allows you to breathe, to innovate and to find your best path forward.
Some see chance and risk as the same thing. However, there can be differences between them. Both chance and risk involve uncertainty and possibility. In the business world today, risk is often calculable, whereas chance is less so. There are concrete and in-depth ways to measure risk before deciding on a course of action. With chance, you measure based on assumptions, with a bit less calculation and certainty.
You can use these concepts of chance and risk to take a look at how you make decisions. When uncertainty exists or all the information you need is not available, do you think things out, consider all factors and calculate risk or do you make assumptions and generally calculate the chances of various outcomes?
The next time you have a decision to make, without certainty of the outcome, will you leave your decision to chance or calculate the risks involved and choose the best course available?
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Collaboration is not the easiest means of managing and decision-making. However, it is the most effective. The best collaborations give all members a full seat at the table. Each person’s voice is heard and respected, disagreements are fully aired and considered and when decisions are made, they are made for the betterment of the collaboration, not just of one or more individuals.
This model can work. People, generally, are reasonable and rational and know that not every decision can go in their favor. It may take a bit more time and patience, but it is worth it. Trouble comes in when organizations go hierarchical and dictatorial in their decision-making. Or, when a sub-group, such as younger people, is disregarded. Some feel that because young people do not have the years of experience that older members have, they do not need to be listened to. They should have a full seat at the table and be valued for the unique insight, fresh ideas and enthusiasm they bring to a group.
Next time you are collaborating, give each team member a full seat at the table. You will reap the benefits of better decision-making, happier team members and creative and long-lasting results.
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Myopic: Lack of discernment or long-range perspective in thinking or planning.
You have often read in this blog about the importance of living in the present moment. There’s no question that living in the present moment keeps you centered. However, that does not preclude looking long-range on a regular basis. You don’t want to be myopic – it does not serve you.
A long-range perspective increases your vision and preparedness for the future. It allows you to prepare for what may come. You can start from the present moment and look ahead at the potential results and consequences of your decisions and actions. Run any decisions or actions you are contemplating out a few years and use your critical mind and imagination to vision what your decision or action could look like at that time. Then, let your vision inform the present moment, as you move forward.
You can live in the present and, at the same time, be wise for the future. Let your vision grow and see grander vistas as you manage.
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