“Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.” – Winston Churchill
As leaders, a big part of our job is thinking about the future. Unfortunately, too often that thinking becomes worrying, complaining, stressing, obsessing, energy destroying – you get the picture. I’ve been involved way too many management team meetings where all I did was try to keep the meeting from flying off the rails and into the “ditch of despair” (yes, I just made that up).
We do not have enough time or energy in our lives for that kind of stuff. We have to be more effective with what we do. And I think one place that can happen is in how we think about the future.
The next time you or your team are thinking about the future, don’t just bring up issues and talk about whether they might happen or what their (usually) horrible impact might be. For starters, ask yourself: Is this really critical? There are some things we see on the horizon that might not be pleasant, but in the grand scheme of things they really aren’t all that relevant.
Ask yourself this, too: How likely is this to happen? Too many conversations about the future end up deteriorating into a discussion of what things would look like if every possible scenario played out to its absolute worst conclusion. Fortunately, absolute worst conclusions rarely happen. Focus on what is most likely to occur.
I’d also suggest that if you are fairly certain that you’re going to have to deal with something unpleasant, don’t leave the meeting or end your thinking without doing some brainstorming. See if you can come up with at least two or three potential solutions. Maybe you can’t solve the problem that day, but from an energy & morale standpoint, knowing that there are possibilities is a big deal. Very few things steal our energy like the feeling that bad things are coming and there’s nothing we can do about it. Even if your solutions aren’t totally fleshed out, at least come up with something.
It probably goes without saying, but the same thing is true in our personal lives. We all see things coming at us (financial, family, health, whatever) that look like they might be unpleasant, and we allow those things to take over our minds and our energy. The same suggestions you read 30 seconds ago apply to you personally.
Don’t allow yourself to wallow in anticipated misery. Business & life are challenging enough without knowingly sacrificing two of our most limited resources – time & energy. Don’t spend time worrying about the future. Spend time planning for it.