Acknowledging an emotion and then working with it can lead to a decision very quickly, as you can see from the following example.
Gene, a CEO of a marketing services company, is facing "the hardest business decision of his life." Three partners with equal shares started the company 12 years ago; Gene is one of them. The partners have been running the company successfully with the "majority rules" method. In fact, the company is recognized in the media as "one of the most creative and effective marketing firms in the U.S." One partner (Neil) is Gene's closest friend, godfather of his children, and a neighbor. Neil never worked for a large company; he was a freelancer at the start of the company, earning $30,000 per year. The third partner (Steve) worked with Gene at a large telecommunications company, and they both left annual salaries of a quarter-million dollars in order to found this new start-up.
Over the last year, Neil has become ineffective in managing his part of the business and is negative about the company's future. Gene and Steve have decided that the crux of the difficulty is that Neil disagrees with the company's vision. The three of them have put this vision together over the last year. However, Neil did not participate as much as Gene and Steve would have liked. Gene believes that subconsciously Neil knows that his skills do not match the new vision and this is one of the reasons for his unhappiness.
Gene and Steve decided to take an open approach-"Tell us what we can and should change, and let's work it out." After several brainstorming sessions, Neil, unfortunately, did not come back with anything constructive.
This situation has been going on for months, and Gene does not see any resolution. Things are going from bad to worse. He thinks that something needs to be done urgently. One of the options is to buy Neil out, but Gene and Steve believe that somehow they can glue it back together with Neil.
I asked him what he feels about the decision. His answer: "Frustration!" During the time when he contemplates his decision in the Clarity State, he finds a number of other emotions-fear of losing his closest friend if this situation is not resolved positively, anxiety about the status of the business if he allows this limbo state to continue, and excitement about the future of the business if the new vision is executed with passion.
His decision-"It's clear-we should buy Neil out!"
What happened? As Gene says, "The decision was obvious, but all these emotions were standing in the way, and I was unable to move forward because of them. This was the first time when I acknowledged the emotions; you showed me how to deal with them, look them in the face. You also asked me to look at the worst consequences of each outcome, and I realized the damage that I was doing by not making a decision. It is far worse than the worst consequences of buying Neil out."
In making his decision, Gene traversed the whole path, from finding various emotions related to the decision and acknowledging them, to facing them by looking at the worst and then realizing the damage of inaction.