I had to deal with a few tough business situations over the last few weeks and months. This comes with the territory when you are in business. It’s also an upper limit on your success in business, your willingness and ability to deal with bigger challenges increasing the upper limit on your success, and an unwillingness or inability providing a sort of cap.
My strategy is, was, and always will be to deal with the biggest, foulest, and most difficult challenge before I do anything else. There are a couple of reasons I find this valuable. First, it feels like offense. It feels like you are taking initiative and capturing the momentum. Second, it provides a sense of control. Even if you can’t control the outcome, you are controlling what you do and when you do it. You are off your back foot and onto your front foot.
Having taken action and having done something prevents you from having to carry the issue around with you for the rest of the day, and it allows you to shift your focus to opportunities instead of problems or challenges.
There is more to this than what I have written here. As a businessperson, you have two kinds of challenges.
The first set of challenges are issues that are going to be resolved over the short term. They are problems that need your attention, but at some point, they will cease to be, either being resolved in your favor or resolved in a way that isn’t great for you but also isn’t an existential threat. These problems get your attention because they are stressful and come with a bit of conflict. We’ll call these Type 1 problems and challenges.
The second set of challenges you face are different. They are not short-term problems, but larger, systematic problems. These problems and challenges aren’t going to be resolved very quickly, and the conflict around these challenges tend to be internal, things like your strategy for acquiring clients, a shift in the competitive landscape, the impact of changes in the economy, increased client expectations, and the creation of profitable growth. Let’s call these Type 2 problems and challenges. They are more important over the long run than your Type 1 problems, but they lack the sense of urgency.
The reason to take action on your Type 1 problems before you do anything else, is because once you have done what you can do in that day, you can shift your focus to the Type 2 problems, knowing that the Type 1 problem will eventually be resolved. The more difficult, more persistent, and more challenging Type 2 problem is what deserves your real focus.
You have an angry client. You need to do something about that, even though it isn’t going to be pleasant. Dispatch that Type 1 problem by making that call first. Then move on to the Type 2 problem of acquiring enough opportunities to build a pipeline that ensures your success.