Reaction to Life's Adversity

What I learned from the #Parisattacks about entrepreneurship and reactions vs. responses

I am not going into the details of the Paris attacks so much as to the reaction / response for entrepreneurs. Most people know the details and if you have not bothered to follow the news, you don’t care about it anyway.

This post, though, is about reacting and responding, with an example of what I think entrepreneurs go through at certain times during their journey.

There will be certain times in your entrepreneurial journey when you have to respond quickly – a large customer does not renew, or a big sales opportunity does not close, or an investment round falls through, find out a competitor who won a large deal by beating you, etc.

There are typically 3 path’s you can take.

  1. Be calm, continue down the path and stay the course.
  2. React to it either in a very defensive way or in a very negative way with communication that similar.
  3. Acknowledge the situation first, asses the new landscape and respond with facts and the outline of a plan.

My preferred model used to be to keep calm and carry on.

I am not sure that’s appropriate anymore based on what I am hearing, observing and reading from various reactions and response to the #ParisAttacks.

I believe this is just an observation and I don’t have a fully formed discipline yet.

On one hand I see several people being “calm” and providing the same facts as they did before, with a “stay the course”, the “plan is the right one all along” – specifically the President of the United States and few others.

On the other hand I see many others react in a very defensive way with a range of emotions from “ban asylum seekers” to “register immigrants” and “bomb the militants” and other extremes.

I used to and still admire people that are very calm in the face of extreme pressure, but I am not sure that in the face of a rather big change in the landscape that you can calm everyone else who is upset, angry, sad or emotionally spent. The calmness seems to anger them or upset them even more.

Similarly on the other side, I tended to loathe people who would react and make incendiary, knee-jerk comments, as well, thinking of them as juvenile or unsophisticated. That’s not right as well, because they are tapping into emotions that most people do face and they need an outlet. As my daughter said the other day – Its okay to cry, since I feel better.

I do think now that the best option is first to acknowledge the issue, then break it down into piece parts, understand what the new landscape, outline the changes or lack of changes if any and  address the new environment with changes to the plan.

Here’s thing I learnt, and my takeaway as an entrepreneur.

Even there are no real big changes to your plan, acknowledging the new changes, with some cosmetic and superficial changes, immediately has a lot of value.

As an entrepreneur you might still not change your plan to go after other customers if you lose one, and focus on winning other accounts instead and choose not to lay-off any of your good talent.

Not saying and communicating anything at all would be horrible.

Acknowledging, it and not making any changes, because your plan was good all along, may be the right approach, but it is not going to be perceived well.

Best is to make some smaller, but noticeable changes, with a promise of deliberate, thoughtful response given more time.

I think that’s the best course of action, than a tame “no change” response.