When you need to pull a rabbit out of a hat!

All of us know that feeling of utter confusion that often accompanies difficult situations. It can be quite paralysing, stopping you from thinking clearly. Sometimes that feeling of being trapped is real and sometimes it is a state of mind.

It’s that sense of what else can I do to get myself out of this mess I am in? I have tried everything I know to do and still, nothing has shifted. Once you have reached this point other things come into play that compounds the frozen state. Things like a fear of failure, fear of losing face or losing all that you own, a fear of letting people down or of letting yourself down. You start wondering if you should ever have done this in the first place.

Suddenly your wish list has increased from magician, rabbit and hat to magician, rabbit, hat, fog buster, Valium, a stiff drink and someone to talk you off the ledge!

When you run your own business the buck stops with you. You may have people who work for you, and you may have a management team but at the end of the day it is your responsibility to keep the business afloat. So what do you do when the only way out you can think of requires a rabbit, a hat and a magician?

Here are three suggestions on what you can do to bring a new perspective on a recalcitrant problem.

Firstly grab a blank piece of paper and start brainstorming all the issues that are plaguing you or contributing to the current situation. Don’t filter this, just let your mind run wild and write down everything that pops into it even if it is seemingly unrelated. Give yourself some time to do this and once the initial flood has subsided, review what you have written and see if anything else occurs to you. Make sure this includes feelings, situations, circumstances, things you have and things you wish you had. EVERYTHING!

Grab 3 more blank sheets and head them up business, personal and in my head. Go back over the initial list and relocate them to these sheets.

Now review these and determine if in fact there is only one problem or if there are a few related or unrelated issues. Sometimes when we feel we are in an unsolvable situation we are in fact facing a number of concurrent problems that have blurred into one. It’s as if we are in the centre of a perfect storm that threatens to overwhelm us.

Ok now that you have your lists this is what to do next.

Start with the “what’s in my head” list and turn each thought into a statement. Then work your way through the list reading each one out loud and ask yourself if it is true? And then if it does happen will I die? Death not imminent? Great, that means you have something to work with!

I’ll show you how this works. Say I had written on my list that if my business collapses I will be an idiot. The question I write down from that is; am I an idiot? The answer to that 99% of the time will be a resounding no. Even if you have done something which in hindsight is really stupid that does not make you stupid. It makes you human. If you have a pattern of bad decisions then you have a weakness in that area and therefore something to work on and improve in but it does not make you universally stupid.

The second question is if you have made a stupid decision are you going to die from it? Again the answer to this will generally be no. It is easy to imagine things are a catastrophe when really what they are is a giant pain in the butt that we wished had not happened. Anyhow, once you have worked through that list I would be very surprised if you have not got very little left to deal with there.

So now onto the other two lists. Grab a piece of paper and draw it up like this or download our worksheet by clicking the image below.


Work through each of these lists and assess each on the following spectrums

  1. Control – how much control do you have over this problem. Can you do anything to influence it or resolve it?
  2. Delegatable – Can someone else help you get on top of this or is this something you have to do yourself
  3. Important or Urgent – are there time constraints around this problem (like will you be fined for not lodging your BAS) or is this something that is important and strategic to get done.
  4. Time – is this quick or will it take a long time

Now the next thing I am going to suggest will seem a little strange. I suggest you pick as many items as can be done in two hours that are quick and not able to be delegated. Make yourself a cuppa, turn off your mobile phone and emails and just get them done. That, hopefully, will be a big load off your mind. It will clear your head of the clutter and enable you to think clearly about what to tackle next.

All of us face problems at one time or another. It is important to take care of yourself through these times. Seek out help from fellow entrepreneurs or your mastermind group. If the issues are more around feelings or thought patterns get help from a coach or counsellor. If things are in crisis and you need immediate help call Lifeline (call 13 11 14), Beyond Blue (call 1300 22 4636) or see your GP.

There are lots of mindfulness and relaxation apps on the market. My favourite at the moment is Oak. Remember too that when work is in crisis it is important to be deliberate about spending time out of work with friends and family, relaxing and if at all possible having a laugh.

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