How to Avoid Paralysis, Even Although the World is Spinning

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. Charles Darwin

Did you happen to see the October 15th, Associated Press article titled "Brain Cells Revive Paralyzed Wrists: Even Single Cell Enough for Activity"? This article, by Malcolm Ritter, described a recent breakthrough in research which allowed two pigtail monkeys to regain the use of paralleled muscles.

In the study, recently reported in the journal "Nature" by Chet Moritz and colleagues at the University of Washington in Seattle, the monkeys were able to use their paralleled muscles to continue playing their video games by learning to control a single brain cell. Dawn Taylor of Case Western, who was not involved in this research but studies the concept of using brain signals to overcome paralysis, described these results as "an important step forward."

The research is remarkable, but what was even more intriguing was the title and the idea behind it, in light of what we are currently experiencing in our work and our world. People are paralyzed. Whether from fear, indecision or feeling overwhelmed by the sense of total lack of control created by the wildly gyrating stock market and economy, they are, in many cases, simply frozen. Not moving forward. Not making decisions. Not making investments in projects, ideas, even in themselves.

It strikes me that if monkeys can overcome temporary paralysis with a single brain cell, we should be able, as individuals, as organizations and as a country, to begin shake it off. Are you affected, in whole or in part by paralysis? If so, what is one small step that you can take to free yourself and begin to do the things that are consistent with your long term goals, vision and plan?

Coaching Tips:

1) Stay the course. If the fundamentals of your plan are still solid, keep doing what you need to do to move forward toward your long term goals. Focus on the day-to-day activities that you need to do and do not make major changes or rash decisions based on fear or anxiety.

2) Look for opportunities. Whenever there is a crisis, there are opportunities. Look for them, identify those that make sense for you, and, if you decide to move on them, move quickly.

3) Limit your exposure to all the bad news. It's important to know what's going on. It's not useful to saturate yourself with bad news. Avoid checking your financial statements daily. Limit the amount of time you spend each day watching or listening to the news on TV, radio, and other electronic sources.

4) If you are a leader, model leadership. Leaders are always key in times of crisis. Others look to you for how they should respond. Model courage, patience, creativity and calm rather than panic. Your leadership will help others extricate themselves from their tailspin, and help them see the current situation as part of a larger picture, not a source of panic and paralysis.