When I witness accidents, the first responder in me takes charge: I promptly tend the victim while asking others to call for help or direct traffic. I can play a lead part because the sight of blood doesn’t disturb me; that is, unless it is my own, which is why I once opted for general anesthesia for minor hand surgery.

As I was wheeled from the operating room to the recovery unit, I suddenly sensed raw onions burning in my nose. So acute was the vile odor that I started wailing. From my semi-conscious state, I recognized my cousin’s agitated voice over my reclined body asking nurses why I was in distress. (Apparently, it was only the effect of anesthesia wearing off.)

In addition to being the hospital’s Chief of Staff, my cousin is also one of New York’s most prominent open-heart surgeons who operates daily on patients whose lives hang from a thread. His overreaction demonstrates a valuable point: when we become involved emotionally with a person, business or idea, our judgment becomes compromised.

Entrepreneurs are especially prone to the risk of emotion-driven judgment because they fall in love with their ideas, which are like their children. They become emotionally attached to them, although they often don’t recognize that’s what is happening. Here are four ways you can help yourself remain detached so you can make more objective decisions:

    1. Ask two primary questions: What’s the worst that can happen? and Can you live with that outcome? When answered immediately, freely, and with no strings attached, the answers often are a game changer.

    2. Separate the person from the behavior. Put yourself in the role of a stranger or expert to view the idea you face more objectively.

    3. Establish clear, measurable criteria for the range within which your idea or business must perform to be considered viable. Identify in advance what the boundaries are by defining criteria or minimum and maximum outcomes. If your results are not within those boundaries, chances are your idea or business isn’t going to work.

    4. Choose a devil’s advocate. Turn your idea over to a trusted colleague or expert chosen for his/her objectivity. Ask this individual to search for weaknesses or issues that need to be addressed.

There are times and places when it is appropriate to be emotionally involved with a person, business or idea. However, don’t expose yourself to unnecessary risk by making important business or personal decisions when you’re in an emotional state. Next time your judgment heads south, apply one or more of these steps to help you reverse its direction. If you’re still stuck, contact me for help.


Recognizing Your Talents

I mentored an executive who was elected CEO and known for his enterprising entrepreneurial spirit. Part of his vision included growing the company faster by converting his employees from a corporate to an entrepreneurial

After directing a strategy retreat for his leadership team, I developed an accountability system for them as well that included annual, quarterly, and monthly milestones. At the first monthly meeting, the CEO sought feedback on the selection criteria for the development vendors he intended to hire to produce the training content necessary to help his employees to think and perform like entrepreneurs.

You can’t hire someone to be you, I said. The expert is YOU. You know how to achieve these results; it’s your implicit knowledge that must be made explicit.Like many other smart, creative people I’ve worked with, this CEO was seeking answers outside of himself when the solutions lay within.

Prior to the second monthly meeting, we extracted and mapped his process for helping individuals cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset. Then I recommended appointing production and publishing vendors to translate this process into content that employees could learn, integrate, and apply on the job. The CEO finally acknowledged his talent in the new context when growth exceeded budget by 40 percent that year.

As was the case with this CEO, people often are blind to their own talents. Since talents are innate, we take them for granted and even assume they come easily to other people as well.

Because thinking like an entrepreneur comes easily to this CEO, he assumed he had to go elsewhere to develop the content to educate his employees. He probably thought, Well, the information I have can’t be what I need; it’s got to be something else. By hiring these vendors, I’m going to get the people who know what I need to achieve my objective. Or he didn’t recognize that the talent that had made him successful in his own division, and that led to his promotion, is also valid in his new role as CEO.

How many times have you:

  • Taken your talent for granted

  • Assumed that what comes naturally to you also is easy for others

  • Not recognized your talent in a different context

The good news is that when something comes easily to you, it’s probably pointing to a hidden talent. Even so, don’t assume that things that come easily to you also come easily to others. The advantage of talents is that they are transferable across situations and even industries. What talents are YOU overlooking?


If you could ask a question about what’s holding you back from catapulting your life forward, what would it be? To ask yours, click on the link below.

Q:How do you know when you’re emotionally involved in making an important decision? While hindsight is 20/20, knowing the warning signs would allow me to take preventive measures. Can you help me?

A:While not all people show the same traits, or display those tendencies to the same extent, the more warning signs present, the greater the likelihood of being too involved emotionally. Common behavioral indicators of emotional involvement include:

  • Blocking out alternative solutions suggested

  • Blocking out negatives associated with your primary choice

  • Being reactive in relation to the specific issue at hand

  • Feeling excited or defensive

  • Taking things personally

  • Thinking instead of listening to the other person speak

You might also build on this list by deconstructing your past experiences to identify what behaviors you recall that, after the fact, should have been red flags for you. Let me know what you come up with; I’d enjoy learning from you!

Send me your questions. Although I can’t promise to reply to each one individually, you may see yours featured here in an upcoming issue!



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Angie Katselianos

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