Over the last few years of my career, I’ve come to be known as “The Fixer” of sorts.
Whether it was turning around a company that wasn’t doing well, or fixing a sales region that was falling apart, or fixing an entire department that never actually hit their numbers, I’ve constantly been airlifted into tricky situations to turn things around.
Needless to say, these were all incredibly stressful business situations.
The thing about when you’re starting a company is that you get to pick your own team, your own circumstances, and you set your own rules. You’re in control of the stress you bring into your life in more ways than one.
But when you’re part of a larger organization, or you’re being airlifted into an already running organization, it is stressful as hell to figure out who you can trust, who’s a great worker, and who can help you put out the burning fires in a troubled organization.
Whether it was running Europe, or running Australia, or fixing Alliances, or even turning ToutApp around when it wasn’t working well, I started to embrace this ONE framework to understand who I can count on to get us to the promised land.
Given a stressful situation, or a fire, or multiple fires that needed to be put out, I always get 1on1 with each of the people (including myself) into one of these three buckets:
- There are ones that run to the fire
- There are those that stand and complain about the fire
- And there are those that run away from the fire
This single framework, not only gave ME clarity for myself when dealing with stressful business situations, it also gave me a framework to evaluate the people on my team.
First of all, let’s talk about what this meant for myself. SO often we’re placed in stressful situations in life and business. This framework allowed me to realize, I always have a choice. When faced with a fire or a stressful situation, I have three choices:
- I can run to the fire and help fix it
- I can stand and complain about it
- Or… I can run away from the fire and remove myself from the situation
Let’s take the easy one first. I NEVER WANT TO BE THE PERSON that stands and complains about the fire.
I don’t want to be that guy. I don’t want someone on my team that is that person. I have zero tolerance for it.
So the first decision that I commit to and I expect the whole team to commit to is to have Option B be a NON-OPTION. These are the worst kind of people and the kind of people that probably created the mess we’re in in the first place!
And then for myself, I figure out whether I’m choosing Option A or Option B.
Now, let me just say. I’ve gotten the biggest breaks in my career, the most incredible opportunities for advancement, and have won the most lucrative deals when I’ve run to the fire.
Fires / Problems / Stressful situations are often opportunities in business and life. They are opportunities for growth, they are opportunities for making something work incredibly well and reaping the rewards, and they are opportunities for advancement.
So if a fire or a problem is a bad situation but there is room for growth and advancement and it’s not a fool’s errand, I’m all for running TO the fire.
But while you’re considering Option A, it’s also important to consider Option C.
As much as I pride myself in being the person that ALWAYS runs to the fire, there has been times where I’ve walked away. And I actually have a TON OF RESPECT for people that explicitly walk away (instead of just standing around and complaining about the fire).
In my experience, there are always three great scenarios where you should just walk away:
- The situation is toxic and there is no upside (life’s too short)
- You’re on a fool’s errand
- Or, Your opportunity cost is too high
Once you’ve clarified Option A, B or C for yourself, in every stressful business situation I did 1on1s with my core leadership members.
I assessed them for whether they’re the type of person that runs TO fires or will just stand and complain, and then I set up incentive plans to ensure the right people are aligned to help me fight the fire and win.
And needless to say all of this worked so well because I went into each and every meeting, each and every situation with clarity for MYSELF that signaled – NO, I’M IN IT TO FIGHT THE FIRE. AND I WILL NOT TOLERATE ANYTHING LESS so you better pick which side you’re on… which quickly weeded out the problem children and the weak ones.
I look at every challenge in life like a bank heist. I take a proactive approach to solving these challenges and I’ve consistently reaped incredible rewards for it. This framework has been crucial for my own clarity and my team’s clarity.
So the next time you and your team are in a stressful situation, you need to lead and decide: will we run to the fire? Will we stand and complain? Or will we gracefully leave the situation.
In our Unstoppable Life Planning guide (linked below), we teach you how to use tools like Unstoppable Sundays, and 45-day challenges to drive consistency and discipline in achieving your dreams and getting to a proactive mindset in both life and business.