Don’t act, because your baby is crying.

Anyone who has a baby knows that when your baby cries, it affects you deeply. And that’s exactly what happened to me this morning as I was sitting by the pool.

My boys were having a blast, splashing around the kiddie pool, but my baby girl was crying hysterically and sitting in my lap, poolside. Poor girl—she had gotten a drop of sunscreen in her eye and even after I had flushed her eye with fresh water, it was still bothering her.

In those moments holding my dear baby girl, I became hyper-self-aware that I should be enjoying the sight of my boys having a blast, but I wasn’t, because I was too preoccupied with my baby girl. I took in long, deep breaths and was able to experience some sporadic enjoyment from watching my boys play. And as I held my baby girl and she began to relax, and I began to relax with her, I had this reality-check thought which was the following:

As long as I feel connected to my crying baby, I cannot not enjoy the moment, and cannot think clearly. In order for me to begin enjoying the moment, I must start thinking clearly. And in order for me to think clearly, I have to get myself to feel relaxed, whatever it takes.

Then I began to think, this is a metaphor, isn’t it?

We always have “crying babies ,” don’t we? The constant pinging of slack and email messages… our work colleagues needing something… some external stakeholder needing something… always some technical issue… and sometimes it’s that inner child within, begging for the chaos of reality to subside; desperate for attention and nurturing.

And I think what this metaphor teaches us about decision-making is as follows:

If you can’t think clearly, then you shouldn’t act. Under the incessant pressures of a business environment, it’s super-important to step back, so that you can fully understand decision inputs clearly and make and execute that decision with a clear mind.

If we’re talking about some risk-driven decision, where you’d experience a loss unless you make a change, then you need to ask yourself prior to making that decision if you are thinking 100% clearly. Do you fully understand what you’re poised to lose if you don’t act? How aware are you of the information you have in your possession, and of the information you’re missing? Are you okay moving forward without all the information you’re missing, or would you perhaps consider holding out for more information?

And if we’re talking about an opportunity-driven decision, do you have at least a rough understanding of the cost/benefit of making the decision? Are you acting more out of instinct, or out of intellect? Do you feel rushed and why? Is it you that’s rushing yourself? Are you afraid of this opportunity passing you by, and why? If this opportunity does pass, will there likely be other similar opportunities in the not-too-distant future?

It’s on you to feel relaxed. Your baby is a lot more likely to feel relaxed when you feel relaxed. Even among complete and utter chaos, if you feel relaxed, then you have the ability to think clearly and make well-informed and well-thought-out decisions, which are more likely to succeed than decisions based on impulse, emotion and reaction.