Paul Raggio | Let’s get centered

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Golf offers so many metaphors for the game of business. One is to get centered on the golf ball when taking your stance, then make adjustments depending on your intent to draw or fade the ball. Getting centered is much more than your physical proximity to the ball and the intended direction of flight. It also means you focus on the shot, see past the obstacles, and visualize where the ball will land.  

If you’re off-center, the probability of hitting a fantastic golf shot diminishes. Getting centered is a discipline. You’ll see many golf pros do the same pre-shot routine time after time: the way they walk up to the ball, their practice swings, how they adjust their grip, the tilt of their head. They’re getting centered before they commence their backswing, then forward swing, ball-strike, and follow-through. 

Getting centered is vital in the business game because when you’re off-centered, you skew your decision-making, resulting in an unintended hook or slice.  For example, we are experiencing the impact of six women who suffered rare blood clots potentially attributable to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Tragically, one of the six women died. Johnson & Johnson offers a single-dose vaccine that doesn’t require the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines’ distribution constraints. It was viewed as a superior alternative by the general public when it hit the market because it only required you to submit to a single dose instead of a double needed for the other two vaccines. However, at the beginning of April, and after 6.8 million doses had been administered, it was reported six women experienced rare blood clots, and one died.  

The Food and Drug Administration immediately halted the distribution of the vaccine to determine the cause of the clots. There was a panic in the general population that increased vaccine hesitancy, especially for the Johnson & Johnson dose. Understandably, fear kicks in. People avoid the risk of adverse effects and decide not to take the Johnson & Johnson vaccination. In some cases, they avoid any vaccination even though Moderna and Pfizer have reported no serious complications.   

How to do it

So how do we get centered? First, gain some perspective. The six women who experienced the rare blood clots represent 0.000088 % of the Johnson & Johnson vaccinated population. How does this compare to other cause of death statistics? Your chance of dying in a car crash is about 0.02%. What are your chances of dying from a heart attack or stroke? It’s 0.12% and 0.0004%, respectively. What about you dying of cancer? It’s the highest percentage of them all, about 0.16%.  

I don’t mean to diminish the tragic loss of life that may be attributable to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. However, statistically, your chances of dying from a car crash, heart attack, stroke, or cancer are much higher than any complications caused by the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

Second, isolate the problem. The FDA explored all the data associated with clotting, attempting to understand cause and effect reactions after imposing the pause. Two weeks later, the FDA lifted the pause after a panel of experts advising the Centers for Disease Control recommended the same. Both the FDA and CDC concluded that the benefits of administering the vaccine far outweigh the risk of any severe complications resulting from the single-dose injection.  

Third, put the problem in context, and respond appropriately to the marketplace by taking action and educating your constituency. The FDA put out warning labels advising the public on the severe yet uncommon side effect potential in some scarce instances.  Transparency and clear communication are essential to gain and retain your constituents’ trust. 

Let’s narrow our focus from a macro to a micro example and look at your own company. If you own a business or lead an organization, panic and doubt creep in when adversity poke’s its head. Maybe you’re a restaurant owner and have hundreds of very favorable Yelp reviews, then receive an unfavorable one. Many reviewers will disproportionately weigh that one negative review and choose to steer away from your restaurant, believing it represents the entirety of your service. Beyond exploring the reason for the review, is it cause for you to change anything in your delivery, menu, recipe, wait staff? 

Getting centered is a discipline. Like the golf pros go through their pre-shot routines, business owners and organizational leaders must develop their habits to get centered and protect against overreacting and skewing their decisions. Identify the challenge at hand and visualize the outcome of your decision and its impact on your constituencies. Once centered, make adjustments accordingly. Then, gain perspective, isolate the problem, put it in context, take action, and educate your constituency. This is how you lead, think, plan and act! Now let’s get after it.   

Paul A. Raggio is co-owner, with his sister Lisa, of One True North INC Leadership and Business Coaching Solutions. 

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