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TIGNUM
THOUGHTS //

Finding Your Focus in a Crisis


Just this week, we were leading a team Performance Mindset session in our TIGNUM Virtual Impact Lab and an amazing discussion broke out. Our initial discussion that we had prepared was focused on helping the leadership team develop their curiosity and vulnerability - two big mindset super skills. In our discussions, one of the team members asked a great question, “If I can be vulnerable, I’ll say that I am afraid of my lack of crisis experience during this COVID-19 pandemic. I have never led my teams through such a crisis. If I am vulnerable and share this fear, won’t it only make my team panic and, therefore, perform worse?

So what do you do when you are faced with a huge challenge like leading your company or teams through this rapidly growing global COVID-19 pandemic?

The first step is to acknowledge the natural drama response that comes from such an event. Whenever the brain is presented with an unknown challenge, it not only elicits the emotion of fear, it also goes into full drama mode (I’m a victim, you’re a villain, I’m/we’re helpless). This reaction is hardwired to rally the troops and to notify everyone within listening distance that there is a problem. Acknowledging the problem, and the challenges it presents, helps people know that what they feel is normal. This is not only calming, but it helps them move to the second step - moving into solution mode.

The solution mode requires mental agility because innovative solutions will be required. Solution mode starts with emotional control and the courage to try the untried. It is the perfect place to apply your mental models (saving prefrontal cortex energy to solve the big problems as they pop up), so you can remain logical, even in the chaos. These may include a risk/reward analysis mental model where you weigh the risk and reward of doing nothing, of doing some simple things, and of doing bold and courageous things. Another mental model that can be very useful is the know/need-to-know model. In situations where there is a lot of hype, but not a lot of facts, it is critical to align everyone on what you know and what you need to know. This allows the group to collectively apply their curiosity by compiling a list of questions and methods to get the information they need to solve the problem.

The third step is to recognize that if there is ever a time that you need to apply your own Sustainable High Impact strategies, this is it. Research shows that fatigue will contribute to what is known as feedback blunting, where you can no longer self-observe or be creative because your brain can’t process all of the information it needs. This means prioritizing strategies like getting adequate sleep, building purposeful and quick oscillation breaks, and diligently reframing your thoughts and stories to challenge your bias and to stay proactive.

Now that you are at your best (or as close as possible), it’s time to not only develop and lead your solutions, but to realize that every crisis, as painful as it may be, also creates big opportunities. Those who have performance resilience and adaptability will see these opportunities and be able to make the best out of each situation. This means accepting the requirements of reality (scarcity of resources, restrictions on travel, people having to work at home, etc.), but not allowing these things to deter your mission. By asking better questions, you discover better answers. The virtual session we started this blog with is a great example of performance resilience and adaptability. With travel shut down, the team scattered across the world, and the office closed, they created another way of getting the team together to build Sustainable High Impact and develop the best solutions.

The truth is, these types of crises are painful for sure. But if you embrace the suck, think different, challenge your own status quo, apply your best mindset, and control what you can control, new ways of thinking will arise. This is Sustainable High Impact at its best.


Every day, we are helping our clients Rule Their Impact by using our digital and virtual solutions. If we can help you, your family, or your teams in any way, please reach out to Pauliina Valpas, at p.valpas@tignum.com. And just to let you know what’s coming in April, TIGNUM will be launching a new member hub for all of our TIGNUM X users where members will have 24/7 access to virtual sessions on many TIGNUM Sustainable High Impact strategies.



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