Data Over Drama: 3 Shortcuts to STOP Thinking and START Acting

“If I’m feeling gridlocked, I go and gather more information. The answers come as I get the information.” 

– Longtime client and owner of Clean Car Custom Detail, Marcy Tran

By November of 2022, I had been coaching at Early To Rise for almost a year, at which point I had seen several difficult client situations.

I helped a handful of clients through challenging personal circumstances…

I experienced a client become angry when I pointed out a pattern that was holding them back….

I even had a client drinking alcohol on multiple coaching calls… (I fired this one.)

But I had not yet experienced what I now call “The Hurricane.”

My first “Hurricane” came in hot, sharing multiple confusing and complicated spreadsheets and ending nearly a dozen long and winding emails with, “I really need this help. If I don’t turn this around, I’m done!”

This was all before our first coaching call.

So, when I jumped on our kickoff call, the hurricane touched down and I was barely able to get a word in edgewise, ending the call without any clear action items.

When I brought my concerns to a meeting, Craig asked me some basic, foundational questions about the client and their business that I could not answer. He kept asking and I kept staring into the computer screen without any information.

Craig’s line of questioning showed me that I had allowed the hurricane to take over and wasn’t able to do my job – which is to get the facts and coach based on what I know. I was spinning around in this person’s head, unable to provide the value I know I can.


Fast forward to last month when a long-term client was struggling with her financial situation. 

G’s business bills and invoices kept piling up, along with tuition and insurance bills for the kids.

About five minutes into our coaching call, I could see the hurricane building.

Instead of letting it consume me, her and the call, I started asking questions and hammering down on the important information.

I needed to know G’s financial situation inside out – and quickly – to help solve this problem.

Not surprisingly, once I got all the information, it was clear that the usual suspects of financial struggle were not the problem.

She earned more than enough gross income every month.

Her operating expenses were in line with what they should be for a business her size.

Her personal and family bills were not extraordinary.

The problem was that she wasn’t following the methods we had outlined a couple months before. Every time an unexpected bill came in, she panicked and pulled money from wherever she could find it, throwing off the entire plan.

She wasn’t tracking anything and was being very reactive with her spending.

Drama was overshadowing the data.

I see this happen often in business. The business owner becomes emotional because they’re so invested in it and they make uncharacteristic and hurtful decisions than fly in the face of common sense.

In seeing this play out many times over the last 18 months, I’ve come up with a plan to slow its progress and hopefully avoid the bad decisions altogether.

Here are 3 shortcuts to stop the drama hurricane and make sure the actions you take are aligned with long term success, not short term comfort.

  1. Gather more information

If there’s a vacuum of information, people tend to fill that with their own stories.

Another client, C, told me he needed help with his sales process. He felt that he wasn’t a very good salesperson.

Fair enough.

My first question was, “What’s your closing rate? What percentage of people who jump on sales calls actually buy from you?”

C looked back at me with a blank stare.

He clearly had no idea, so he guessed 1 in 5, or approximately 20%.

I made a note and created a simple tracking sheet to see how many people were getting on calls and how many sales he was making.

Turns out, after 3 months of tracking, that C closed at nearly 40%, or double what he estimated.

C is a great salesperson, he simply wasn’t getting on enough calls and he wasn’t tracking anything. Now, he knows exactly how many conversations he needs to start, and how many calls he needs to book to reach his goals.

When it comes to any problem you’re facing in your business, are you using objective information or relying on your (or someone else’s) opinion to make a decision?

You probably just need more information.

  1. Simplify 

Once you’ve recognized that you need to gather more information, it can be difficult to know how to structure that.

The simplest way to collect more data is to ask yourself what success looks like for the problem you’re facing and how you can tangibly measure that success.

In sales, this looks like closed sales and cash collected.

For financial health, this looks like money in the account at the end of the month or even the amount of debt paid down.

For personal fitness, this may be the amount of weight you can lift or your body weight.

Make sure it’s tangible and make sure it’s simple.

Once you have that, create a tracking sheet for all the crucial information involved in success.

For C’s sales, we measured the number of new conversations and number of calls booked per week. The final outcome was the number of sales he made.

For G’s finances, we measured daily account balances and are in the process of measuring debt each month. 

We’re in the process of tracking the debt, because we don’t have enough data  to make a decision yet. 

You’ll need to track for at least 3 months to get an idea of what the objective data shows.

The longer you track, the more powerful the information will be. 

Tracking allows you to either change what isn’t working or double down on what is, moving you towards your goals faster.

  1. Uncover limiting beliefs

My client G knew the systems to manage her finances and earns enough money to cover it all.

However, long-standing patterns began to pop up as soon as anything unexpected happened in her bank account.

When things don’t go the way we hope, we tend to fall back on our limiting beliefs and old patterns that no longer serve us. 

Her pattern of panicking and paying the bill from anywhere worked well when she was a student struggling to make ends meet. I’m sure they kept her in apartments and kept food on the table.

But now that she owns a multiple six-figure business and several properties – no bueno.

The one good thing about this was that it exposed a limiting belief that is probably negatively affecting her elsewhere, too. Once the finances get sorted, we can dig in.

So, if you were to just look at your actions (or lack of action) as objective feedback, what would it teach you?

G had a limiting belief that she was never doing enough, and felt that every time something went wrong, she needed to do something to fix it.

C, the salesperson, had a limiting belief that he wasn’t a good salesperson, and his pattern of being hard on himself has popped up in other places where data has outweighed the drama in his head.

So what is the belief or pattern that keeps popping up and stopping you from taking the actions you know you need to take to have success?

BONUS: Breathe

I get it.

Whenever you’re “in the hurricane”, it’s not easy to pull yourself out and get back to objective measurements.

You’re emotional and you’re feeling the pressure.

But the more time and space you put between the trigger and your response, the more likely you’ll have a positive response to the situation.

So take an intentional breath (or five) and allow yourself to think clearly. 

You’re smart and you make good decisions. That’s what got you this far.

Don’t let your emotions cloud that decision making.

At the end of the day, we all have drama somewhere in our lives and businesses.

But that drama doesn’t need to turn into a dark, brooding screenplay that spells the end of everything.

Get out of the hurricane in your head using the tools above and simplify the data you’re collecting. 

Not only will this help you more easily measure and manage what’s going on, but it’ll probably show you you’re better and closer than you think at whatever it is you’re trying to improve.

Gavin McHale

Gavin lives in sunny Winter-Peg, Manitoba, Canada with his wife, Kelly and two crazy cats, Harvey and Winnie. Gavin spent 10 years in the fitness industry, building up a 6-figure hybrid coaching business before transitioning into business mentorship. He has since built that business to the multiple 6-figure mark as well, working with over 100 trainers and clinicians looking to build their business. Gavin joined the ETR team in 2021, dedicating himself to helping our coaching clients improve their mindset, become better leaders and scale their businesses to new heights.