Several of my clients have a habit of calling me out of the blue, all in a lather about some current crises they are “facing” that day, to tell me what drastic action they had decided to take that day to solve the dire problem. Sometimes, it was an employee who “needed” to be fired, a hire they wanted to make now, a compensation plan they needed to implement yesterday. Other times, it was an overhaul of the entire technology setup, or a new service they needed to add before they lost all their clients.
I can’t even count how many times I had to talk clients down off the ledge to discuss the problem—never were things anywhere near as bad as they had made them out, and not once did we end up taking one of the nuclear options they decided on.
Finally, when I just couldn’t take it anymore, I would tell them: “From now on, when you have a quick decision that you want to make right now, I want you to take two days staring out of your office window thinking about the actual, likely consequences of that decision, and what other problems it probably will cause.”
Inevitably, our next phone call would go like this:
Advisor: “We really need to do XYZ right now, or all hell will break loose.”
Me: “Did you take your two days staring out the window to think about it?”
Advisor: “No, it just can’t wait.”
Me: “Call me back in two days.”
After two days, I would call them back.
Me: “What happened with the XYZ crisis?”
Advisor: “Oh, it wasn’t really as bad as I thought. I think we should just focus on the goals we are working toward.”