Ever passed through a bad situation in your business or private life, where you said to yourself ‘’I know it was going to happen’’. And even though you knew it was going to happen, you were not prepared for it to happen? This is because you ignored the red flags.
While coaching my clients, one of the things that I always encourage them to take care of and to keep monitoring are the red flags in any area of their lives. And I mean by red flags the indications or the signs that appear to us along the way to indicate that there is something wrong or that something is about to be wrong.
As an example, you have a new idea for a business project, and since you need motivation and do not want to feel alone, you go and search for a business partner who can share the load with you and lift you up when you are demotivated or stuck. After a lot of searches, you identify a potential partner. In your first appointment with him, he arrives late and without any logical reason. However, you take it as just a coincidence, and you continue the meeting and neglect the fact that he was late.
Several weeks later, you agree with your potential co-partner on some actions and deadlines. You finished your deadlines on time to be surprised that he did not accomplish what you agreed upon together and without any strong reason except the words ‘’I am sorry’’. Several days later, he finishes his actions, and you decide to neglect the fact that he did not respect the deadlines that you agreed upon together and you continue.
Week after week and month after month, several situations like these happen again, but you neglect because you do not want to drop this partnership and search for a new partner and you are afraid to stop the flow, plus that they are not major problems anyway. Until one day, you discover that you and he cannot continue to work together and that you don’t like his style of work and you decide to close the project with him but after a significant loss of time and effort.
Same can happen in a private relationship with someone. You love a person, but you see that he or she is lazy, careless, is not concerned about you, does not have empathy towards you, or any other thing that you may name. Those are all red flags. And because we are emotional creatures by nature, you decide to ignore these red flags and say to yourself ‘’she will change later’’ or ‘’he was just busy’’…etc. At a specific moment, maybe after weeks, months or years, you reach a deadlock with this person, and you decide to break up discovering that you did not win anything by ignoring these red flags except only losing time and energy trying to make the relationship work.
Another example from Corporate life. You may hear that your company is losing money and maybe they will need to layoff some employees. Or you may hear that your company will be acquired by another company which most probably will lay off some of your company employees. You keep ignoring these rumors or reports expecting that even if something bad happens, it will not touch you. Several months later you get surprised by getting asked to leave the company because you are laid off.
So, what can you do as soon as you spot a red flag?
1- If this red flag in a private relation, then speak to this person about what you do not like and give yourself short time afterward to test, and if nothing changes then take decisive action.
2- Same thing in business partnerships, when you spot a red flag, share your expectations and what you do not like with your partner. If nothing changes then take the decision immediately to break the partnership and search for another one who can meet your expectations.
3- If you are an employee, and you spotted the first signs of instability of your employer, or you heard rumors -just rumors- about something that maybe does not look like that it will affect you, then start updating your Resume and open some discussions with headhunters and keep an eye on potential opportunities in the job market so that if something bad happens you do not say I expected that to happen but I am not prepared.
Spotting a red flag and ignoring it is as if someone told you that he would come to your home on Friday at 07:00 pm to punch you as soon as you open the door and when Friday 07:00 pm came you still opened the door and got punched by him directly in the face only because you were not expecting him to be serious. With some simple actions like looking from the door viewer or even asking who is at the door, you may have avoided the punch in your face.
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And before leaving just wanted to remind you to: Imagine what you can achieve, believe that you can achieve it. And act to make it happen.