As a leader, you are faced with difficult decisions that have large impacts on people, families, products, services, and financial results. The more responsibility, the more difficult the decisions. In 2010, I had the opportunity to hear Army four-star general George Casey speak to a room full of senior executives. He quickly got our attention by simply stating, “the easy decisions have already been made, by others. You get the hard ones, with the most risk.” The entire auditorium woke up and was on-notice. He got our attention, but then he provided a tool to help us ensure we do the right things to help make better decisions.
Casey recommended REST (read, exercise, sleep, think):
The “R” is a reminder to read and prep before you make a decision. Many of the entrepreneurs or women that I coach are skimming articles, instead of really reading them, being introspective, and thinking about the implications. I encourage clients to read, reflect, understand the implications, and then recommend. This is a sound implementation cadence of reading and prepping.
The “E” was to reinforce the importance of exercising and being healthy to make difficult decisions. One of my former colleagues, who is the CFO of a Fortune 50 company, considers himself to be a ‘corporate athlete’. He firmly takes the stance that being physically healthy via exercise and proper nutrition feeds his brain and body to make solid decisions under pressure. He has a weight, nutrition, and Body Mass Index (BMI) goal to help him be the best leader he can possibly be.
The “S” was to ensure you get your sleep, so that you are in a good mindset. Ever made a bad or rushed decision when you were tired? Former President Bill Clinton once said after his Presidency that, “I made my poorest decisions when I was rushed or tired, or both.” The importance of sleep is also reinforced by Huffington Post founder, Arianna Huffington. She has implemented nap rooms at her workplace, so that employees can take a nap in the afternoon if they become fatigued.
The “T” is for taking time to think and weigh the options and associated risks before making a decision. How often has your team rushed you for an answer? When was the last time you coached someone else to think about something over the weekend? My father has been known to ‘measure twice, and then not cut’. He will tell you that during his lifetime, many urgent requests for a decision to be made actually just go away if you take time to think. He has reinforced to me many times that employees who bring these urgent requests will either figure it out, let it go, or bring it back to you if they are completely stumped. So he is obviously a thinker. However, in a truly urgent situation that could mean life or death, a simple short walk can allow a leader to think and clear the mind to help ensure a better decision.
These simple and highly effective acronyms like REST have a way of reminding me to lead and coach more effectively. For example, if we have a huge decision to make in the markets we are serving at Slingshot SEO, I will ensure I practice and prep (i.e. Read and Think) a couple nights before something is due. This helps me be calm and also ensures that I Sleep more soundly the night before the deadline. Regarding the importance of Exercise, it is planned in to my day just like a business meeting or school sporting event. Exercise is on the calendar. How can you implement REST to help you become an even better emerging leader?