In my coaching, I often see situations where people believe they do not have choice. You always have choice. As you make decisions, observe what choice is in front of you. Say, a project is taking a lot of your time. You are starting to neglect other aspects of your life and are feeling stress. The deadline is looming, so you feel you have no choice, but to keep going. Well, you do have a choice – several in fact. The challenge lies in what choice you make. You can miss the deadline, be a bit late on the project or push to complete it on time. As you identify your choices and evaluate them, how can you feel you have no choice?
Acknowledging that you always have choice is a way of taking responsibility for your life. When you see that your life is formed by your choices, you can consciously make the ones that are right for you. Your choices may involve compromises at first; but over time, I think you will see that life gets better, as you acknowledge choice.
The next time you have a decision to make, see it as a choice.
photo: Salvatore Vuono, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Managers make decisions within uncertainty daily. Sometimes, critical decisions made within uncertainty involve high risk for a manager. When I worked as a manager at The US Environmental Protection Agency, one of our team’s most challenging projects was to develop guidance for scientists and regulators addressing decision making under uncertainty. In the project, we put a lot of our focus on the assumptions scientists and regulators made for each decision. Good assumptions can mitigate the risks inherent in decision making within uncertainty. Ideally, you have the time to make solid, well-researched assumptions, but that is not always possible. So, what do you do? Fly by the seat of your pants? No, you do the best you can in the time available to you. Some strategies for making critical decisions in uncertainty: bring your team together and use all your brainpower to identify first the unknowns involved and then the risks; devise the best course of action in the time available to you; document the assumptions and identified risks involved in your decision; get the concurrence of upper management both on your decision and on going forward within uncertainty. The unknown can become a bit more known with time, but will often remain, and decisions must be made. Get as comfortable as you can with uncertainty. Create a strategy that helps you deal within it.
Photo: FreeDigital Photos.net
Overwhelm means to crush, submerge or destroy. Overwhelm derails your ability to manage well. It is a powerful energy that often comes quietly. You try to get just one more thing done. You think you can do what you can’t. The result: overwhelm overtakes you.
What’s the antidote? Prevent it. Be aware of your stress level and the signs you are going into overwhelm. When you see overwhelm approaching, end run it. Stop, plan and execute.
Sometimes you just need to regain your center, lower your stress level and you can proceed. Other times you may have to lay it out to your team. “Here’s what’s on our plate. What can we get done.” Other times, you have to throw the ball to your boss to set priorities. When you need them to, let management make the hard choices and set priorities with you.
Image: Evgeni Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net