Decisions under pressure

I remember sitting in the bank hallway with an office across from me.

In that office sat the lady who inquired where I was going to get the money I needed in a few short hours? It was money I urgently needed to deliver to a seller and it was not yet in our account

Late in the day, we had a deadline. We had to close on the purchase of a parcel of land and the funds were not in the account. I had a few hours before my fate was sealed.

In many similar instances people will choose to do a number of things:

  • Put their heads in the sand
  • Panic
  • Get angry and start blaming everybody else for the problem.

In our situation, we needed approximately $300,000 to be able to close on the land deal.

I decided my best role was to sit in the corridor at the bank while the team did their job and made phone calls to potential investors. That way I could turn around check quickly and drive three hours to one of the most important meetings of my life.

The story is not simply about faith. It is about planning, making decisions under pressure and ensuring that everybody on the team is productively moving toward a solution.

Overall, I learned to stay calm, delegate and maintain a sense of humour. In the end this situation worked out positively for us. For many people they get so wound up, they quit even though there was an opportunity to succeed.

Here are my thoughts on the three lessons I learned.

Stay calm

Nothing can be achieved positively by losing your composure. As soon as you give up control of your mind, you also give up the creative solutions that your mind can help you find. If you're working in a team then your team will also react to your lack of composure.

As soon as you feel that sense that you're going to lose your calm, you need to back away breathe deeply and get back into the zone that can help you be productive and find a solution. For me that can be as simple as taking a pen and paper and simply writing down all the potential outcomes of the situation.


One thing I have learned is that I do not have all the answers. My strengths lie in certain areas and members of my team have corresponding strengths.

It is important in critical situations to effectively and authoritatively delegate tasks in order to find a solution. This one step alone can help maintain your sense of composure. Fundamentally it puts you in a critical role in finding that solution although credit must be given to the team ultimately.

Sense of humour

I have never been short of a sense of humour. Certainly on that day Cheryl, the bank clerk, was having a good laugh at my expense as I explained the situation I had put myself in. Thankfully at the end we were able to genuinely laugh as I delivered a box of chocolates and a bunch of flowers to Cheryl for letting me sit outside her office all morning.

There are so many instances in our lives where we can lose our composure unnecessarily.

Sometimes, it's dealing with children, other times it's as simple as being held up in a shopping lineup. Whether are you in a car driving in heavy traffic or in the boardroom facing criticism for a recent decision, the only way out is with a sense of calm and a plan.


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About the Author

Mark has been an entrepreneur for over forty years. His experience spans many commercial sectors and aspects of business. He was one of the youngest people to be appointed as a Fellow of the prestigious Institute of Sales and Marketing Management before he left the UK in 1988.

His column focuses on ways we can improve on success in our lives. Whether it is business, relationships, or health, Mark has a well-rounded perspective on how to stay focused for growth and development.

His influences come from the various travels he undertakes as an adventurer, philanthropist and keynote speaker. More information can be found on Mark at his website www.markjenningsbates.com

He is a Venture Partner with www.DutchOracle.com a global Alternative Investment company.

Mark Jennings-Bates:
[email protected]

Photo credit: www.SteveAustin.ca 

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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