During the crisis, staying stable to make good decisions

Staying stable and serene to get through this crisis

8 minutes

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In a crisis, the most common reflex is to talk about it, to think about it all the time, to try to anticipate and evaluate every possible scenario in order to be ready for anything.

This is useful as a first step to get used to the sudden change that the crisis represents and to take the actions that need to be taken immediately when possible to protect people and assets and limit the extent of the damage. It also often helps to confront the situation and to tame the fear generated by uncertainty and the unknown.

It can also, if it becomes too recurrent, to present, make us fall into the phenomenon of “restlessness” by which we are so strongly and so often confronted with our powerlessness to change things, the context, what is happening to you, can become paralyzing.

As a leader, it is then essential to identify the phenomenon and to act on oneself and one’s environment in order to take a step back and be able to cope and stay the course again.


And you, how are you reacting to the crisis? Do you manage to step back and tame your old reflexes?


Faced with the crisis, we all have the reflex to inform ourselves, to do research and to read and watch as many articles, videos, and elements to understand and identify the extent of the problem, to know all the ins and outs of what we cannot grasp in all its complexity…This seems useful to us and even provokes a certain feeling of mastery: as long as we are researching, surfing the internet, talking about the subject, sharing our opinion, we are in action. This, even if we are often plunged into the illusion of mastery, is what cannot be mastered.

After a certain stage, however, this reflex no longer seems to be as nourishing and reassuring. As if our brain is saturated, and no longer knows how to take the mass of negative information that is poured into it. It panics, it feels overwhelmed, it no longer sees how to act. We then come into contact with the FFFs automatic response mechanism (Freeze/Flight/Fight) inherited from our ancestors, which short circuits the paths usually taken in our brains and cuts us off from our ability to step back and find solutions to act creatively to the situation.

Our brain is then in panic then survival mode and reminiscent of our distant past survivors in a threatening environment, the amygdala takes control of our lives. We then lose our capacity for discernment and choice. It is as if we have blinders on, pushing us to see only what is negative, what is impossible, what is the worst that can happen, what we must protect ourselves from at all costs. We are then caught up in a phenomenon known in nuroscience as ‘tunneling” or “restlessness”, which pushes us to become obsessed with a single thought ( in this case survival) and therefore to interpret each situation experienced in the sense of wht will justify this thought (here, the emphasis will automatically be placed on everything that will justify panic).

This automatism, initially conceived by our brain as a positive strategy intended to prtect us from danger, can then become the danger itself since it leads us into an uncontrolled vicious cycle. Every piece of information scanned under the influence of tunneling reinforces fear, doubt and our feeling of inability to act, which in turn reinforces the need to activate the survival mode even more strongly, generating even more fear, doubt and inability to act otherwise, etc.

IN PRACTICE: Put in place new reflexes to make better decisions

A tip?
Learn to recognize this phenomenon of tunneling and get used to your brain getting out of it.

Step 1 : Recognize what is happening

Take some recent examples of tricky situations and determine with the help of the descriptions below whether, in adversity, you are more likely to go into “Freeze”, “Flight” or “Fight” mode ?

“Freeze” Mode

When the automatic response is paralysis, you will then tend to lose all ability to act and lock yourself in a state of restlessness, doing nothing more, waiting for it to pass on by itself

3 definitions to spot when you adopt any of these 3 automatic responses, unconsciously.

“Flight” Mode

When the automatic response is flight, you will tend to minimize what is going on or to occupy your mind with anything that will allow you to take your mind off of the crisis, the situation, to pretend it doesn’t exist, to avoid the subject and everything related to it, to distract yourself by any means.

“Fight” Mode

When the automatic response is fight, you will tend to look for ways to resist, to fight and to look for everything in your power to act, to change things, to show that anything is possible. In the case of a crisis, this is similar to the phenomenon of resilience.

Step 2: Establish new reflexes to guarantee the relevance of your choices.

When Walt Disney wanted to make a decision or create a new character, he would physically move from room to room to look at the situation from different angles (see corresponding page). Likewise, get your mind accustomed to distinct times in your thinking, decision-making or meeting process by regularly taking time to address each of the steps below:

Dedicate 10 minutes to stating the facts

Dedicate 10 full minutes to stating the facts, looking at them, listing them, examining them coldly, objectively, as they are.
OUR TIP: To make this step easier, answer questions such as :
> What exactly is going on?
> What are the different components of the question, or the problem?
> How can I state it clearly?
> Are we taking into account all the actors involved? All the dimensions of the crisis?

Dedicate 10 minutes to consider the worst

Then dedicate 10 full minutes to consider the worst of what could happen based on these facts, sincerely, objectively
OUR TIP: To make this step easier, act as if you were listening to a friend or colleague who is going through a rough patch and – in order to get out of it – needs to state what could be the worst for him or her so that they can prepare for it, if necessary.

Dedicate 30 minutes to look at the situation from the perspective of opportunities

Then spend 30 minutes going over each element of the diagnosis one by one, each fact and see if you could not, precisely, see them differently, find an opportunity in the crisis.

OUR TIP: To make this step easier, answer questions such as :
> Am I really sure?
> If it didn’t concern me, what question would I ask a friend who is “spinning around like a hamster in a wheel” when faced with such a situation?
> Could the situation be analyzed differently?
> What opportunities are hiding behind these constraints?
> If I could make 3 wishes to a genie {link to another card that describes them}, now, what would they be?

Dedicate 10 minutes to summarize and decide on the following

Finally give yourself 10 minutes to synthesize all these steps and decide with consciousness what to do. You have tamed your brain. Repeat as often as necessary, adapting the time spent in proportion to the time you have available. You will be more and more muscular in your approach and you brain will gradually trigger the right reflexes, immediately!



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