Reversing The Death Spiral

Reversing the Death Spiral of a Leader. Dr Henry Cloud. @Drhenrycloud Willow Creek GLS


Leaders take charge. They do stuff. They don’t blame. They exert energy and take charge of people and problems. They do hard things.


But the hardest thing you have to be in charge of, is yourself.


Leaders always see a vision, get a team, and a plan, and tweak along the way and move from here toward there.


But sometimes along the way, they stop being in charge of themselves and fall off in a downward spiral.  This happens in very accomplished leaders.


What happens in a downward spiral?

Leaders who last think, feel and behave differently from the ones who spiral out.


A study looked at two groups of people;

1)   High performers on the entry test.

2)   Dummies who failed the entry test.


In the field the second group outperformed the first by 53%!



Oh, but there was one other difference,


They did another test. The first group were also pessimists.  The second were optimists.


If you have a choice between those who can and don’t think they can and those who can’t and don’t know they can’t – pick them.


The number one factor for success is whether or not you BELIEVE it can happen.


All leaders believe it can happen when they start. But then they get into a circumstance that’s outside of their control, and that changes their brain, This is called ‘learned helplessness.


They shocked dogs that tried to get out of cage. After a while they didn’t even try to get out though they could.


If you believe you are controlled and limited by people above or around you, or by the economy, You feel you can’t control it. The brain starts to change – in predictable ways; in the way you interpret everything around you.

Something goes wrong  – for everyone.


The 3 Ps. – PPP


PERSONAL – you take it in a personal way. I can’t do this?  I’m not good enough.


(The dummies don’t take it personally! ‘It’s NOT because I’m not good enough. It’s not because of me.’)

This becomes…



Nobody thinks I can. This is all a mess, Everything’s bad. And then…



It will always be this way – it won’t change.


Even the best performers can go into this death loop. BUT there’s a way out.


Science and the Bible agree here. Look at David’s life and journey!


Science says… we have to reverse the 3 Ps.


1)   LOG and DISPUTE the negative thoughts.

Write down what you think they are going to say that’s going to be negative. Dispute it with God’s words. He says you’re his workmanship, you’re called and equipped!


There is a difference between your BRAIN and your MIND. Your brain can send off weird chemicals. Let your MIND love God’s word. Agree with that.


2)   DISPUTE the PERVASIVE idea. Write down what IS working, Thank God for the great stuff he is doing. Yes, some of it’s bad, BUT… your life is a movie, not a scene. And every great movie has crisis scenes in it. But in the end of the movier – you win.


3)   Get back in control because there is HOPE! God’s behavior in the past is GREAT. He has parted seas and done miracles.


There are some things you CAN’T control.

There are some things you CAN control.


Everyone has control of something.


Don’t worry about tomorrow! It’s not as bad as you think it is. Look at the squirrels eating nuts for a while.


If your brain always focuses on what you cant control you’ll stay in the loop.


Your brain runs on


Fuel  &



You have to connect.  Once you feel good in relationship, you’ll start to solve problems – in teams. Talk together about how you are feeling. When you are with others, the stressors are much more manageable. Don’t work alone.

Another cruel experiment from back in the day;

Monkeys in cages frightened with noises and flashing lights.

Then they put another monkey in with them and did the same thing.

Stress levels drop by 50% when you have someone with you.


There’s a way. FIND A WAY.

One thought on “Reversing The Death Spiral

  1. But the hardest thing you have to be in charge of, is yourself.

    I really connected with this blog. Its so natural for me to see the negative, the what still needs to be done, corrected and to pass over what is good.

    Thanks for the reminder!

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