Each and every day we are faced with decisions large and small as they pertain to growing our businesses. These challenges and opportunities require confident decision-making, often elicit varying amounts of stress, causing us to feel as though we need to fight, flee, or just freeze.
We can’t predict every scenario we’ll be faced with, but we can imagine those that are likely and consider how we’d respond. Regardless of the situation, we don’t have to allow our natural response of “fight or flight” determine what we’ll do. In fact, Amy Cuddy, a professor at Harvard Business school and the author of Presence has addressed this idea of making ourselves more powerful in stressful/challenging encounters with mere body language. In a short video she created for Inc., she reminds us that our business dealings are not life or death – they don’t require our natural stress response of fighting, fleeing, or freezing.
This notion of making ourselves more powerful in stature and body language reminds me of my father and the example he embodied when turning down Coca-Cola’s $2.5 billion offer. I was nervous and stressed, but my father’s presence conveyed something entirely different. As the elevator doors closed on the surprised Coca-Cola executives as we left, my father moved his hand to mine, gently smiled, and whispered like the gambler he has always been:
“Never show emotion; never show your hand,” he said. “Proud we stand, as we always have and as we always will. A partnership should be exactly that, a meeting of minds tied together by a shared passion. What we just experienced was not a meeting of minds.”
Squaring off against a much bigger competitor requires nerves of steel, particularly one that hails from the richest and most powerful country on the planet. But my father taught me a valuable lesson that day: understand our values and what our company stands for, what direction we are heading in.
When faced with a significant decision his survival instinct wasn’t provoked, he knew exactly what he wanted and what the vision for his company was. There was no reason to fight, to flee anxiously, or freeze in the moment. Instead he powerfully and respectfully responded to the significant decision before him with the company’s best interest in mind.