meltdown to success - leadership

You can find the right solutions after you take the time to pause

You’ve probably already heard that we are going to make this wild, unprecedented time a transformation. You’ve heard that now is the time to increase market share and to refine systems. Absolutely, that is the case. Absolutely, you can and will. However, there is a step before that one. A vital step, that cannot be skipped. A step that will make the next moves in the weeks and months to come, the most powerful and lasting. That step is called:


Pausing to Acknowledge

You may prefer another, more concise, four letter expression. The technical term is called Acknowledgment. It is the first step that opens your mind to the most creative solutions.

I can hear you say that you don’t have time for this. You don’t have the luxury of time to acknowledge. You’ve got people depending on you to make swift decisions and find answers. Then listen up, or you’ll slip into denial and make poor decisions that cascade into further magical thinking because you haven’t first come to an acceptance of the vast reality of this moment. You really don’t have time for that.

The mind is interesting. Let’s say you are shopping and have a cart full of plush, desirable toilet paper and someone comes up from behind, rams you to the ground, steals your toilet paper, leaving you injured and confused. Then a personal injury lawyer comes up to tell you how to sue the pants off that wild guy. You’d think you were assaulted twice. First physically and then emotionally. You need to be asked, “Are you OK? I saw what happened!” The validation of the experience is the vital first step. The mind must first acknowledge the deranged nature of what just happened. You have to wrap your mind around the experience before you can move forward to find solutions. There are many seconds steps. You may just dust yourself off or you may pursue a report but it always begins with a pause to acknowledge that the situation has happened to you.

From Shock to Solution

We desire to directly move to solutions but the human mind doesn’t function that way. When we are in shock our minds need a moment to wrap around the fact that this is even happening, that life has forever changed. The mind does not go immediately to solutions. The first step is to acknowledge what seemed impossible previously. It is a time of questioning and struggle to believe life has forever shifted. It is very uncomfortable and very necessary.

Think of past times when you’ve received shocking news that your life has forever changed. While it is prudent to address immediate needs, making decisions about how to move forward requires a pause. Without the step of acknowledgment, you will not fully accept the situation for what it is and find a path to the best solutions. Skipping acknowledgment means that you don’t really get what is happening. You’ll jump from one stop-gap choice to the next.

In the coming time you are going to be comforting frightened team members, you will be reaching out to disoriented guests, you will be looking at bleak numbers, you may be laying off treasured team members, and you will most certainly be looking at each and every way to retool. All of this is going to happen and the solutions will come when you have given yourself space to acknowledge the overwhelming reality of this. Your team, guests, and peers need you.

Seeing the Big Picture

Through acknowledgment, you will have given the mind the vital first step it needs to see a broader picture that gives you the insight to make smart, proactive, creative decisions and avoid knee-jerk responses. By taking the time to pause for acknowledgment, you will be in the most powerful position to efficiently find innovation.

Stephanie Somanchi