Photo by Sammie Vasquez on Unsplash

You want to take the leap, but … there’s a pause.

When I was a kid, trying to build up my nerves to jump off the 3 metre board at the swimming pool. When I finally did, it was a joyous experience! But I only worked up to jumping off the 5 metre board once.

In my business, I’ve had some of those big-decision moments as well. Here I am, faced with a key decision, afraid but excited to move forward.

This is an important experience. If you’re never pushing yourself to that limit, you’re probably not taking the necessary risks in your business. Maybe you’re waiting for others to make the decision for you, in which case you’re a follower rather than a leader.

The analytical side of my brain tends to be dominant, so I find comfort in asking:

  • What’s the upside?
  • What’s the downside?
  • What’s the most likely outcome?

Unfortunately, that really doesn’t address the emotional side of making a significant decision. My lizard brain is still yelling at me: It’s not safe! You don’t know what you’re doing! Run for your life!

Or something like that.

I’ve found it very helpful to consciously honor this side of me: “Thank you for wanting to keep me safe, but it’s time to move forward.” Then I try to get those two halves of my brain to work together, applying both logic and emotion:

  • What excites me about this decision?
  • Where does the feeling of dread stem from?
  • How will I feel once I get past this point?

This last question makes the connection to my larger vision and purpose, building upon a picture of a better future that I’m committed to. That’s the power of articulating a compelling mission and aligning around it with other people.

That’s why this works for groups as well. We’d like to think that only the leader needs to have courage, and all the others just follow along. But in fact, most followers also have their own type of hesitation when they’re forced to leave their comfort zone.

The solution is for the leader to step up and create a conversation something like this:

  • Here’s the significant decision we’re faced with, and how far along we are.
  • Why is it important to change?
  • What are the upsides and downsides?
  • What’s the most likely outcome?
  • What excites us about this?
  • What are the sources of our fears about this?
  • How does this help us progress toward our mission and a better future?
  • How will we feel once we get past this point?

This isn’t a formula, because every group and every decision is different. But if we want to build alignment of a group of people, it’s important to respect everyone’s viewpoint and feelings.

Then take the leap.


This article was first published in InnovatioNews.

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