Keeping Your Emotions in Check
I recently learned that every business decision you make has immediate implications in nearly all aspects of your life. A few months ago, my assistant made a serious mistake. She went out to eat for lunch, ran into a few friends and wound up having a few too many drinks. Unable to return to work in a proper state, she called me and spoke honestly about the predicament she found herself in. While I was shocked by what was unfolding, I told her to go home, feel better and return to work the next day in better shape.
While this was certainly the right call to make, her absence caused several problems throughout the organization. I found myself having to take over her normal responsibilities, which prevented me from managing more important parts of the company. When she came in the following day, I addressed her behavior, stressing my frustration over her irresponsibility. She repeated her story, and after feeling like she was disrespecting me and the company, I was forced to let her go.
That seemingly simple decision created a ripple effect throughout the company. While I know it was the right thing to do, it was a decision made from the heart and not the head. In my case, the decision to fire my assistant led to an immediate slowdown of all projects; it generated a chain reaction that began to impact the rest of my team, especially when I delegated to people who were unfamiliar with the workload. To make matters worse, our new assistant-recruitment process proved unsuccessful, putting more and more pressure on me to keep things running.
I was frustrated. I was angry. Worst of all, my family noticed my behavior, and they began to resent how I was acting. It was at this point in my entrepreneurial career that I began to understand how each decision you make—no matter how small or warranted it is—has a direct impact on all areas of your life. In this case, it was negatively impacting my family. If I had dealt with my emotions better, if I had approached the conversation with my assistant more strategically, I could have planned accordingly and come up with a better way to handle the resulting issues.
As entrepreneurs, we’ve all been in situations where we let our emotions get the best of us. We get so caught up in the system of things that we let our feelings control our decisions, which unfortunately pulls us away from our purpose. This particular experience taught me to take control of my business decisions before my emotions do, and to always adopt a strategic mindset when faced with unexpected situations. Now, when I find myself in a similar predicament, I ask myself the following questions:
Do I have any feelings associated with the situation that may negatively impact my decision?
How will this decision ultimately impact my business operations?
Once I make this decision, how long will it take to achieve my expected result?
Looking back, this experience taught me the power of patience. While it’s important to be opportunistic as an entrepreneur, factoring in timing is essential when determining whether your decision will result in growth or a loss. I also learned that every business decision is compounded and oftentimes adversely affected when you engage feelings of anger, sadness, fear, etc. These feelings cloud your thinking and make you see and feel things in non-objective ways. All in all, this was a tough experience, but one that’s offered innumerable opportunities for learning and growth in business and beyond.
Carlos Estrada is the president and CEO of Gutierrez, Estrada, Diez de Bonilla, S.C. attorneys at law. Fun fact: Carlos is a self-professed geek who would study computing systems if he weren’t a lawyer.