The World on Fire: How to Manage Anything

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Help, help, the world is on fire; it’s pretty much how I felt most days of my early career. It was even worse when things didn’t connect how they should or how I (we) were told they would. I was helpless. Despite putting in long hours trying to put out the world on fire, I did not know how to effectively manage anything.

Through experience, I learned to sit back, observe, and take my time understanding how things really are (connect). It is only then I moved in a deliberate, focused, and well-thought-out direction. The lense I used to formulate the course was always to benefit the customer, then the employee, and finally, the company. We needed to meet all three conditions, or we wouldn’t do it.

As a result, we stopped doing things just to do things. Team Members were less disrupted, participated, adopted, and even owned the process. Better customer experiences helped everyone win. I used this approach in the legacy company, both startups, and even a couple of the business I launched. With some modifications, I used the system in my martial arts career as well as personal and family relationships.

Your Knowledge and Knowledge of Others & Making Correct Decisions

As you reason though the process it is important to be aware of what you know and what you don’t (which is why taking in partners is important). This will directly effect the success of your choices. Here is my detailed post to help you in the process. Lastly, like most things, managing anything effectively requires time and practice. There are times, when you will make a wrong choice and fail. But fear not. You can actually turn failing into winning in the long run. Read How to Win by Failing on how to speed up this process. Do it often, and do it well.

In short, instead of panicking,  take the time to think through the problem. As you do so, don’t forget to take in partners, both those more qualified and those affected, in the decision making progress trying to ensure the benefit of customers, employees, and the company. Only ask Team Members to sacrifice when no such solution can be found or the circumstances are truly extraordinary (corona virus outbreak; extreme recession etc.). If you do this well, you will no longer feel your world is on fire and you can manage anything effectively through whatever complexity. Additionally, your staff and your teams will come to respect you as a thoughtful, detailed leader whose decisions they follow, because they have everyone’s benefit in mind and don’t often change.

What fires and through what means have you learned to avoid them in your life?


European turned American! Linguist, traveler, martial arts aficionado, BJJ Black Belt, and a retired executive who decided to pursue grappling full time at 35 and document the journey in order to inspire others to pursue their dreams. These are his ramblings.

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