There are times where everything seems to blow up at once. It might be something specific to your industry, like a drastic new regulation or disruptive innovation.

Or it might be something more general, like a worldwide virus threat or global financial crisis.

Yeah, I know that never happens, but stay with me here. Just in case.

The question is: how do you maintain perspective and focus when it seems all your assumptions have been thrown out the window?

First, step back and take a deep breath. Help your team to do the same. It’s unlikely that taking action one minute faster will make a difference – in fact, overreaction will usually push you into a worse situation.

If you have someone on your team who is particularly good at this, call on them to be your sounding board of sanity and perspective. This is often where people have relied on a coach or mentor who is better at taking the bigger perspective.

Next, go back to your core principles. That often includes how you treat customers, employees, and partners. Don’t lose sight of your vision and values; in fact, they will probably guide you to make the best decisions in these times.

Next, look at the big picture of your business like you do when you’re doing a deep strategic planning exercise. Capture the things which have probably changed, and those which haven’t. I find it often gives my clients comfort and stability to recognize that there are a whole bunch of things which haven’t been affected by the disaster of the day.

There’s a strong chance that your people are even more nervous than you are, questioning their career choices, personal finances, and loyalty. They often have a narrower perspective than you do and much less useful actual data. They can have their emotions whipsawed by the whims of social media. So help them settle down by being a voice of calm. You may not have the answer yet, but you’re working on it and will include them when you make decisions.

Now you can begin your re-planning exercise. With broad perspective and rational calm, go gather the necessary data to work through the tough decision.

Footnote: I included this photo of a volcano because of a personal experience I had in 2010, stuck in London for a week while the volcano blew its top in Iceland and shut down most of European travel. It was unsettling to say the least, completely trashing all my plans for an unknown duration. But in the end, it was a wonderful experience of connecting with key partners and gaining a new perspective. In the end, there was no lasting negative impact on my family or business, except to have a wonderful story to tell!