Nick Powills: It’s Usually Not the Disaster that Causes Pain, It’s the Event that Happens Next
Nick Powills: It’s Usually Not the Disaster that Causes Pain, It’s the Event that Happens Next

Your response to a tough situation often will lead to the next reaction.

In a flash of a moment, a masked man comes at you with a knife. Do you:

  1. Run
  2. Fight
  3. Freeze

For many of us, we would probably say A or B, but in reality, many of us would C. So, what happens next?

The masked man approaches with the knife and we have a second opportunity. The masked man says, “give me all of your money.” What do you do now? Probably the same thing.

In a disaster or a tough situation, it isn’t the situation that causes the outcome, it is what we do next.

You are driving and a bee flies in the window. Do you continue to drive or do you swerve and crash? In one response, we think rationally that a bee sting is less of a problem than a crash, but in reality, we probably swing our arms out of fear. In tough situations, often times, it isn’t needing to know the difference between right and wrong, it is us responding under pressure that determines the outcome.

My dad would always say, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” There is a lot of value in this advice and it can even help influence the strategy of running when things go wrong. When someone says something you don’t like, you run away. Are you considered a stereotypical coward? Possibly. But are you safe? Absolutely. If you scream back something that is not nice, you risk outcomes that spin out of control from there.

I think about that saying a lot in business – especially a business where clients can sometimes overreact. Even with our team, when they handle challenging franchisees, I ask them to put themselves in the shoes of those who are complaining for a second. Chances are that franchisee has spent a lot of money to get their business open and they’re not making money yet. They are stressed. Thus, the cause and effect of their attitude or approach are not due to my team, it’s the circumstances surrounding them. When you can pause and put yourself in the shoes of the aggressor, you can at least understand their position to know that a response will be you swatting the bee, which could make the bee angrier, which could cause a sting, which could cause a crash.

Here’s the point of all of this:

  1. Always prepare yourself for the worst, so that you can think about how you would respond.
  2. Understand that your response usually dictates the ultimate outcome. Understand that there’s a risk when you respond to any bad situation – yet, be confident in what you do.
  3. Also, understand that you may not be able to prepare for all tough situations.

So, what will you do the next time you approach a tough situation? Remember, your action likely will dictate the next reaction.