Panic and Deep, Dark, Holes

By Dan Marshall, CEO

I was reading an article last week about ‘catastrophising’ and the dangers it can cause business leaders and their businesses. It was the first time I’d heard the phrase, but I immediately recognised it as a behaviour that I have fallen into in the past.

Catastrophising is defined as a distorted, negative way of thinking – either about things that you feel are happening now or things that you feel may happen in the future – without any proof or evidence that they are happening or are likely to happen.

The situation we all find ourselves in currently, with the uncertainty facing businesses across the world and the vast expanse of the unknown economic recovery following COVID, is a prime breeding ground for exactly this sort of negativity. But thinking this way doesn’t achieve anything and is dangerous to our future success.

Now, more than ever, we need to look at our jobs, our businesses, our processes, our practices, and accept that what we were doing before may not necessarily work in the new normal (sorry, I hate that phrase, but it seems to be so mainstream now!). If we stick to what we were doing previously in this changing world of work, we’ll just come unstuck when things change again in the future. We need to accept that flexibility and adaptability are going to be part of who we are – if it wasn’t already, of course. And we need to assess our position constantly and ensure our actions are still aligned with our overall goals.

But, just as importantly, we need to take advice and guidance from those around us. Catastrophising just constricts our ability to think properly, objectively and constructively. It abandons us on anxiety-ridden islands where the negativity will just worsen. You have support, whether this be from colleagues, employers, employees or, if you work alone, from your network of customers and suppliers. Making use of that support, seeing how others are dealing with their situation, has never been more important to our futures.

Rather than sitting and thinking the worst, I’ve learnt to look at things objectively and make decisions based on what is actually happening, rather than just live in fear of what might.