In discussing how pilots react to emergencies, I was reminded of something I learned in self-defense classes. In extreme stress, the human body is programmed to direct all its energies to what is most important. One of the outcomes of this is tunnel vision where one literally cannot see except directly in front of them. Similar reductions in mental bandwidth happen to pilots in emergencies.

This makes me wonder. What happens to the entrepreneur when an emergency happens?

In our business as agency developers working with entrepreneurs to build growing insurance agencies, we see people get into situations from time to time that could be considered emergencies. When that happens, I see a similar pattern of a narrowing of focus and reduction of bandwidth.

When problems strike, we often can only see the problem in front of us and everything else recedes into the background unseen, unrecognized and un-dealt with. This is good to a point because in an emergency—whether in the sky or in our business—we need to focus on the problem and get it fixed.

It also can be fatal.

This is because problems often don’t come one at a time. In some cases, problems create other problems. In other cases, they just show up when we’re stressed and focused on something else. As an example, think about the fact that in house fires the thing that scares people is the fire, but what usually kills them is the smoke. 

Problems in our businesses can be like that.  Every business experiences crisis sooner or later.  How can we make sure that while we fight the fire the smoke doesn’t kill us?

I’ll address that next time.

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