Thank you for the positive reactions to our post-Brexit newsletter on Keeping Calm and Carrying On.

It seems that many of you shared our sentiments, and were able to provide a positive message for your teams. The month since has been a time of much change, and of much carrying-on! With political manoeuvrings in Westminster, and the US election nominations, it seems that rumours, gossip and half-truths are the currency of the day. Half-truths can be presented as gospel and calamitous predictions can be made, based on the sketchiest of evidence. How best to make decisions in that environment?

Across an average week our clients will collectively be considering buying, selling, investing, growing or shutting up shop (I don’t think one client has ever considered all of those at once!). As we help them to think through the options and decide on the best course, we are privileged to see what seems to contribute to the most reasoned decisions:

 Just The Facts Ma’am: As Dan Ackroyd said in Dragnet (and we featured in a very, very early newsletter). When making strategic decisions, or reviewing performance, or managing challenges within a team, it is important to distil down to the facts of the matter – avoiding over-emotional stories, drama and embellishments.

Challenge Assumptions: Received wisdom isn’t always wise – who said Brexit or Trump would win the victories they have? We often state things as fact, when actually they are assumptions. Sometimes those assumptions are misplaced. Make sure you know what is fact, what is an assumption, and whether any assumptions are valid.

Estimate Risk: Leading a small business isn’t about eliminating risk – that is impossible. Leading is about managing risk – knowing the impact of various possible outcomes, and managing accordingly. In small organisations accurate estimates of risk can be costly in terms of money and time – so estimates have to be made. Good management is then about making intelligent estimates, and understanding the risk of an inaccurate estimate.

False Expectations: Fridge magnets and bumper stickers will tell us that fear spells False Expectations Appearing Real. Like all cheesy clichés, it works because of the grain of truth within it. What are you accepting as reality that is actually a false expectation? How can you help your team mates see false expectations for what they are, so your people can be reassured and more positive?

Come to Planet Perspective: When we’re in the thick of the action, sometimes we need to travel to a different place and look back to see things from a broader view. Like seeing Earth from space, the perspective from a different planet helps contextualise, helps reduce fear and helps present a more realistic assessment. Sometimes you need independent, unattached, professional support to help you see that perspective.  Something like a business coach…

As cavemen, or cavewomen, we needed fear to protect us from fire, sabre-toothed tigers and each other. In evolved human societies or organisations, such as your business, fear can stir division, discord, hatred and conflict. As leaders, it is our choice whether to sustain and promote that “project fear”, or to invite people to the more positive, more inclusive and more productive Planet Perspective. Which do you choose?

Painless Business News

We are calling all golfers – whatever your standard (and we’ve had some shockers in the past). September 9th sees our latest Charity Golf Day which is always a fun event on a great course at Pine Ridge near Woking, and this year raising money for an especially well-deserving charity: Daisy’s Dream. They provide counselling support for children in Berkshire who have suffered close bereavement – a subject dear to our hearts after Celia’s teenage daughters tragically lost their father, Paul, two years ago. You can come along on your own, or bring a fourball (or two) – we guarantee some good banter, an exciting raffle and a delicious BBQ at the close. Please book your place(s) here and help fund vital support for young people at a very testing time.

Painless Puns

Some thoughts on fear:

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
FD Roosevelt

“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.”
Les Brown

“Fear is not real. It is a product of thoughts you create. Do not misunderstand me: danger is very real. But fear is a choice.”
Will Smith

“The only thing you have to fear is fear itself. 
And spiders. 
And two-year-olds. 
And role plays in interviews. 
In fact, fear itself is the least of our worries.”
James Butler

A Zen master recently told one of us to do the opposite of what he told us to do. So we didn’t.

Have you heard this new band called 1023MB? They’re not quite up to a gig yet.

We often hear about having a Pavlovian response to fear – if you are familiar with Pavlov’s work on conditioned responses (useful background for any manager), or a dog owner, you might like this cartoon.

Final Words

Fear, misrepresentation and misinterpretation may be taking hold in politics, but we don’t have to let it take hold in our businesses. That’s a choice. Get some perspective, find the truth below all the noise, and make solid, reasonable, perhaps adventurous, business decisions as a result. We can help – just reply to this email and we can talk.


Warmest regards
James Butler, Celia Champion and the Painless Team

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