Getting off the fear train: A call for leaders to distract their people with purpose

The stock market’s current turmoil feels like a nasty flu: Fevers, breaking fevers, moment of euphoria as health returns, followed by setbacks.
When I visit the home page on Yahoo!, my eyes can’t avoid the color of the stock market numbers below the news box. Sometimes they are slightly red. No sweat. Many times, there’s a little fever (say 2% down). Sometimes the fever gets much worse (3 or 4%) down and skyrockets at the end of the day the body’s resistance wanes.
Rarely a set of green numbers (sometimes as high as 5 or 10%) can give us new hope that this thing is turning around, and everything will be OK. Then the fever shows right back up the next day.
I’m writing this post as the market winds down from an ugly day, with sellers coming out of the woodwork. I’m ignoring it to write this post, a purposeful distraction. This is our only hope as individuals: Work on something, worry less.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Great leaders keep their people focused on value creation during times of crisis. To paraphrase Napoleon, you gauge reality and give hope. It’s your job to engage your troops in work that inspires them, helps them feel like they are making a difference and conforms with the current economic climate. That means you’ll have to innovate like a non-profit when it comes to bootstrapping or self-funding some of your ideas.
All that effort is good for your creative mind, and you won’t go broke innovating. If, on the other hand, you let the mood at work swing with the market, you’ll join many other companies in the downward spiral.
It’s really your choice. Some companies are going to build/fix and imagine some incredible things over the next two years.