“As you start to walk out on the way, the way appears.” – Rumi
The world is full of business leaders who feel completely overwhelmed. They have almost literally a hundred things to do every day, and that doesn’t count the things that will come up that are completely unexpected. A lot of them started the business because they liked making the product or service, and all this ‘business stuff’ is more than they bargained for. Others have had formal business training and years of experience and still feel like they don’t know where to begin.
There’s nothing right or wrong with any of that. Every one of us feels that way sometimes. The right or wrong is in how people choose to handle it. Over the years – and again in the past 3 months – I’ve seen all of these responses:
Total paralysis. I feel so overwhelmed that I can’t do anything other than think about how overwhelmed I am. It isn’t that I’m choosing to do nothing; it’s that I literally cannot make myself do anything to solve my problem.
Retreat. I feel so overwhelmed that I’m just going to focus on the simple, mundane tasks that I’m comfortable doing. I have no idea how to approach big issues, so I’m going to busy myself with just being busy, even if the things I’m doing really add no value.
Become a marathon runner. I feel so overwhelmed that I better work 20 hour days so that I can address every single one of these problems immediately. Everything that I’m faced with is of the utmost importance, so I have to work on it all right now.
It probably goes without saying that those are all the wrong way. So what’s the right way? Rule #1 – not everything is of the utmost importance. So figure out what really matters. Maybe it’s growth, maybe it’s people, maybe it’s sales, whatever your business is faced with. Figure out what the critical few issues are and work on them.
Which brings up Rule #2 – narrow it down. Even once you’ve identified the critical few, there are probably still a number of things that need doing. Break it into pieces. If this change requires us to do 50 things, what’s the first one? What’s second? Put together an initial plan for the first 30 or 60 or 90 days & focus on those first things first.
Lastly (Rule #3) – get help. Whether it’s your internal management people or somebody from the outside, you’re not required to do all the work yourself. Find people with skills you lack and let them go to work.
Even in times when everything feels chaotic and overwhelming, there is still a path. It might take a little effort, but you can find it. And when you do, change happens. Good luck.