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The ABCDE Protocol to Manage Panic

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The 4R Method for Building Powerful Teams

Panic can be paralysing. Just as a pilot prepares for an emergency, so, too, can you prepare when the stress is overwhelming and you need to act fast. For me, it is as simple as ABCDE.

"Pilots take emergency training to ensure their actions are automatic, appropriate and instant. Good leaders do the same."

Panic can be paralysing. The heightened sense of fear or anxiety creates a bodily response that can cause tunnel vision and rob the brain of the ability to correctly assess or act in a situation.

Panic can arise in a range of fearful situations and business leaders can experience forms of heightened fear when business feels out of control or “going wrong”. This could be challenges in cashflow, loss of a key client, anxiety about looming deadlines or fear of public speaking. They could extend to anxiety about a personal relationship, fear that a key staff member could resign or even concern for one’s own health and well-being.

The key here is just like a pilot who trains on standard safety protocols so the actions to take in an emergency are automatic, so too can leaders prepare themselves for a business emergency. A standard protocol helps to calm the nerves by bringing order to our thinking and guides us in the action to take.

As a business leader myself I take wisdom from my days as a pilot in the form of a simple ABCDE mantra that I have created for situations that are (or feel like) an emergency. These are:

A. Acknowledge and name the feeling of fear (the emergency)

B. Breathe deeply and slowly to calm the body and mind. It helps to add a calming mantra such as “you’ve got this, just relax and breathe”

C. Consider the level of danger – is it high (life-threatening), medium (action needed) or low (perhaps even the mind playing tricks)

D. Decide on your options – In business situations I like to write a ‘distraction list’ – an extensive list of all the things that are concerning me so that I have a full picture on paper and can work through the list to decide on the priorities and possibilities.

E. Engage and take action to get out of danger.

The key here is that the ABCDE method helps to calm the mind, bring order to your thinking so you can overcome the emergency.

Wishing you a fabulous week and that this ABCDE mantra can help you to overcome fearful situations in any area of your life.