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Standing Still Will Knock You Down

We are all living through a global pandemic the likes of which we have not seen in 100 years – meaning few (if any) people living today have any memory of what the last pandemic was like. That said, our reactions to crises vary widely be they economic (recession, depression, etc.) or a health crisis like this one that has created severe economic pain.

Here’s the one response I have heard and continue to hear that will be the undoing of many businesses: “I’m going to wait and see what happens …” This is, generally speaking, in reference to a variety of investments: people, technology, training, marketing, benefits, etc. 

If I’m sitting on the bench waiting to see where the bus is going, when I figure out it was headed where I wanted to be – it’s gone. It has left the station with me sitting on the bench staring at tail lights because I waited to see where it was going.

Having worked in, created, rejuvenated, coached, and launched businesses, the most dangerous behavior is the inability to make a decision. That’s right – not the bad decision, the sunk costs, the poor employee fit, the ad spend, etc. – but the indecision is the most costly behavior of all. 

Early in my career in Financial Services my coach told me that if I stumbled and skinned a knee (metaphorically, that is), he would be the first to help me to my feet. However, if I fell on my butt, he told me I could sit there by myself – because it meant that I had been standing still and deserved to be knocked down for the inaction.

Here are three ways Owners, CEOs, and Executive Leaders standstill – and how to get moving:

“I can’t afford it.” 

Every business, household, and the government has a budget albeit they may be wildly different in scale and wildly different in their prudence. Decide how you are going to invest in the future of your business, because going quiet, dark, and stealthy during a time when your clients, customers, or members are still active, will leave them wondering where you were when times are tough. They will rightly ask, why didn’t I hear from you for 6 months? And how will you explain if you were ‘just waiting to see what would happen’ or ‘waiting until things improved’. Our clients want to do business with people that were making the brave choices, staying visible, and being active. Businesses must invest in their future in order to reap the harvest.

“I don’t have the time right now.”

 We all have exactly 168 hours per week. Picture a peer that you admire – someone that has a similar business, family, and community involvement – with one key difference. They seem to spend their time in equal parts among their passions. They seem incredibly happy, focused, and productive. What’s the difference? The very best Owners, CEOs, and Executive Leaders spend time thinking about and working *on* rather than *in* their business. They take active accountability for their critical few objectives using delegation to develop and elevate their teams for items outside that shortlist. Further, they acknowledge that *time* is a finite resource, not variable. They set a time limit for every segment of their day and stick to it. This item is the point of greatest resistance in Executive Coaching because a common response is to simply work more and longer hours. 

“I need more information to make a decision.”

 Leaders are accustomed to making decisions with incomplete information on an uncooperative timeline. What does that mean? If we were to wait until we had all the available information, opportunities have likely passed by. Think of a military example where taking action to hold a battle line is more important than waiting to find out exactly where the opposition is. If you were to wait for that information, they might have grown to an insurmountable size or moved much closer. Business is the same. Use the information you have, move forward. When you have new or better information, make new and better decisions. Regarding the inconvenience of timelines: don’t waste time second-guessing with such handwringing phrases as, “if I had known that 6 months ago, I would have ….” The reality is that you did *not* know then what you know now. Gather. Decide. Move.

Nearly every business has been impacted by the current Pandemic; once it passes, there will be other events that impact your business. Waiting for each period to pass will devastate a business’s ability to grow. Today you may be a bit slower than you were before March 2020 or perhaps you are one of the industries that are much busier. Either way, what investment can you make in your business today that helps you organize and execute around priorities? How will you either use the extra “time” you may have because you are slower, though revenue is down? Or how will you use the additional revenue you have and create the “time” necessary to invest? For many businesses, their ability to make critical decisions will be the single most important criterion for surviving this pandemic and thriving beyond.Ken Kilday, CEO/founder of Leader’s Cut: The Ken Kilday Coaching Experience, is an Executive Business Coach and EOS Implementer®. He works with leaders in companies of all sizes to implement actions, evaluate success, and adjust to new, improved habits and actions to produce repeatable and predictable outcomes independent of changing business cycles. Ken is an entrepreneur who has designed, built, launched, and rejuvenated successful businesses. Contact Ken to schedule a 15-minute Meet & Greet and discover how coaching can best serve you and your business.