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THE Leadership Japan Series by Dale Carnegie Training Tokyo Japan

Aug 23, 2023

The boss is the light on the hill, radiating positive energy, belief, confidence and possibility.  The moody boss can destroy the atmosphere in the office very quickly.  We all know that, so we have to become expert thespians, masking our true feelings and putting on a fun face to the outside world.  When things get tough, there are no people the boss can talk to, so all of the pressure gets bottled up in one person.  When things are not going well with the results and particularly when the profits are not where they need to be, the pressure really starts to pile on.  How can the boss function when any normal person would be laid waste with depression, insecurity, imposter syndrome and self-doubt?

As the boss, it is difficult to share the issues with your life partner, because you feel you are bringing them down too and they have almost zero influence on improving things to help you. That is why the boss tends to keep everything stitched up tightly inside.  There has to be a release though, or the pressure can build up in an unhealthy way. One outlet is to write down your fears.  Get it down on paper, someplace where only you can see it.  Write without restraint about what you are feeling and the depth of your fears.  Somehow there is magic in writing this stuff down.  The act of writing forces you to articulate what you are feeling and it forces you to make clear the scope of the issue.  The other thing you find is that there are only a few central planks to this problem. You don’t wind up writing some massive tome with so many issues, it is humanly impossible to address them all. 

Once we have captured our worst fears, we can start to work on them.  The first thing to do next is to delete any delusion.  We don’t see hope as much of a strategy, so we have to confront the issues head on.  That translates into assuming that the worst will happen, our gravest fears will be realised, the apocalypse will arrive unfettered.  This calls out the deepest fears of catastrophe and ruin.  There is no longer any illusion in play, disaster beckons.  This is painful and scary, but a necessary step on the road to redemption.

Having accepted that the meltdown is unavoidable, we start to work up some possible solutions.  We are not trying to perfect ideas as they emerge, we are just concentrating on getting them down on paper.  We are looking for volume at this point, not perfection.  We get as many ideas out as possible. All mad ideas are welcome.  A crazy, impractical idea may hold the seed for a better idea, which would never have arisen, without this initial lunatic stimulation. 

The interesting thing about this process is how hard it is.  After the initial burst of frenzied activity, we go blank.  We run out of ideas and the extraction of the next layer of gold thinking is seriously heavy lifting and hard.  It is critical though that we don’t crack and just move on.  We need to tough it out and go for deeper, better thoughts and keep pushing ourselves.  A five-minute period can feel like a lifetime in these circumstances, but we have to hang in there and keep going. 

From this list, we start to select ideas into a priority order.  This is seriously hard work as well and not an easy process.  Getting ideas into a priority format is the lever to help us select where we need to spend our time going forward.  What we come up with may not be perfect or complete, but it is the best we can do and we have to go with that.  Having a plan and having no plan are worlds apart.  The no plan scenario leaves us in mental turmoil, our confidence is sapped, and we trip over into depression and calamity.  A poor plan is much better than no plan and even a poor plan can be improved upon.  The act of doing seems to release more ideas and possibilities, which just operating at the theoretical level, does not do.  When you have brain fog because of all the stress, it is very hard to take action, but we must start somewhere and expect that it will not be where we will finish.

We know that what comes next is going to be unpleasant, with some tough decisions needed to be taken.  We have to grind this out and we have to be prepared for reversals and some aspect of the plan failing.  Regardless, we have to keep going and do everything we can to save the situation.  Where does our self-belief come from?  By this time self-belief has taken a hammering and is probably threadbare.  There are few alternatives and self-belief aplenty or not, we just have to keep pushing forward and tough it out.

Desperation may have replaced sunny optimism, but externally we have appear to be calm and in command. That is a hard act to pull off, but one we have to concentrate on perfecting.  The moment the team begins to think we have given up, they will cave in on the spot and the game is lost.  It is a long way to the top, if you want to rock and roll, but we have gotten to the top and we have to stay there.  It is also lonely at the top too and we have to get used that.  Even Executive Coaches cannot get the full version of what is really going on, because of our egos and self-regard.  Even with the coach, we will keep a public face in play, rather than reef back the tattered curtain and reveal the ruins.  Welcome to leadership.