“Tools for Success” series: How to Make Emotional Decision Making Work for You

Some days I wonder how I have come to this place. How did I come from being a teacher to a CEO? How did I make it through the storm that fell upon me in 2016 and come out on the other side successfully? That is not an easy question to answer. But to answer it, I think, will give others some tips on how they can also make a business successful no matter the current environment, which right now is a bit of a shaky one, to say the least.

The day I walked into fatrabbit CREATIVE, sat down at the conference table with the team, and said to them, “I am your new boss; please tell me what I do for a living” was definitely a day propelled by impulse and survival. I know this because no rational person would have done such a thing, especially not the typical me back then.

But that journey has taught me so many lessons. Trial by fire is often the best way to learn. Therefore, each week I am going share a lesson I have learned over these past three and a half years that fellow business owners might find useful.

Winding paved two lane road winding through mountains covered in foliage at sunset with a large lensflare

Tip No. 1: Making emotional decisions work for you.

Emotions are a great driver for decision making, IF you can keep perspective.

To say I was emotionally driven in the fall of 2016 would be an understatement. I had just lost my first husband in a sudden and traumatic event and was left with three young children and a life of responsibilities. I remember vividly sitting in my car sobbing at times because I didn’t want the world or my children to see me falling apart. I must preface that with the fact that I am just not one to show my emotions publicly. Everyone is different and showing emotion is not a bad thing at all. It just wasn’t my thing. But that emotion that I often kept hidden was certainly still there and drove me to make many decisions that could have gone either way. Emotion that is aligned with your goals, however, can be an amazing combination.

The beauty of making a decision when you are emotional is that you really just don’t give a shit. Your feelings are so powerful that the consequences often linger off in a shadowed area somewhere that is off-limits to you for the time being.

For business owners, the possibility of negative consequences can become paralyzing when it comes time to make big decisions. We spend so much time thinking about the what-ifs that we fail to move forward and take that necessary leap. This can drastically hold back a potentially successful business.

Skydiver leaping out of a plane flying high above the clouds

Statistics show, however, that people who move forward in the midst of opposition are the most successful. Look at Oprah Winfrey and Vera Wang for instance. As both women and minorities, they had to overcome oppression and discrimination their entire lives. Yet they have more than prospered. I am sure at least a few of their decisions have been emotionally driven. Women business owners may struggle more with this than men do. We are often told that we are too emotional, which causes us to instead push aside our emotions in an attempt to be more cool and calculated. But our emotion is part of what makes us beautiful, complex, and successful. Overcoming despite opposition allows the world to see what we are made of.

So tip No. 1 is to try to let your emotions drive you once in a while. I have found that using that emotion to my advantage has brought me to where I am today. And looking back, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

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