Making Stressful Decisions

Transcript: We just recorded a great podcast in Thriveal, and it was with Ron Carucci and we read one of his articles, and we talked through it. And the article was basically about when making decisions, be careful you don’t flip between different binaries. And basically what that article meant was in the face of urgent decisions, big decisions that cause stress, he pointed out that our brain flips towards, flipping into polar positions, right? We take extreme positions to solve this stressful problem. And that’s so true. I find about myself and having people in my life, like my partner allows me to be more balanced, come to solutions that really make more sense. And this article pointed out four different places where you need to be careful that you may be flipping to extreme places to try to make those decisions. So here’s the four places you got to be careful about.

It’s communicating tough news. When you’re doing that, it’s a stressful thing and your brain may flip towards catering, just fluffing up this issue or just going in and hurting somebody. You can take those extreme positions, but there’s probably a better option somewhere in between. So that’s one. Communicating tough news. Facing high risk decisions. So these decisions have really a lot weighing on them. They could affect so much. And in the face of these often our brains will flip again to these polar places when the best option is somewhere in between. The third one is introducing radical ideas. These are big, sweeping, transformative, big changes that could disrupt a whole company in one fell swoop. And you just delete a division of the company and fire everybody or you keep everybody and there’s often not in those polar positions, but there’s a better option in between in that third one.

And then delegating higher levels of authority when the leaders or the owners have a lot of certain types of authority that really move and change the company for you, and you delegate that, sometimes we flip into polar places, right? Delegate it all or nobody did it right, and so you control it all back and those are polar places. And one thing, so here’s the four and again, in the face of these types of four extremes, brains tend to flip towards a polar place to try to solve these problems. And the four are when you communicate tough news, when you face high risk decisions, when you’re introducing radical ideas and when you’re delegating higher levels of authority. These are places where you need to be careful cause your brain will flip to something. And I love the way Ron Carucci ends this article. He says, “There are no complex challenges in the world for which there were only two options to solve those two polar places.”

The minute you find yourself torn between two extremes, assume that both are limited. Step back and build a broader menu of options. That’s where you’ll likely find your optimal choice. And when he started the article, he said, “When our brains flip to these polar places, what happens is we’ve eliminated all options,” which is true because there’s only one here and there’s only one here and there’s none of these options in between. And so we’ve cut every bit of our options out and that can hurt us. So just be aware when you’re going through certain types of stressful situations where your brain’s going to go, it’s going to go to these polar places and you can counter that by putting other people into your life that can balance you, that care about you or by inserting time into these decisions, slow down, insert time, make those decisions later if you can. And things become clear and more opportunities for these new options become clearer through that process.

So I hope that helps. If you need help in your firm, let us know you can join our community. Just go to and we’ll be glad to embrace you and help you grow your firm in creative ways so you can become a better leader and really transform clients and team. Thanks so much. Take care. We’ll see you.

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