May 27, 2020
At this point, most of us have been sheltering in place for almost two months due to the Covid-19 crisis. For most of us, this period feels dramatically different than anything else we’ve experienced in our lifetimes. Yes, each of our own lives has been upended in some way, but we’re also all part of seismic societal shifts.
More than 30 million people have filed for unemployment—a record high that rivals the Great Depression. And the true economic toll of the shutdown is only beginning to emerge, with industries crumbling, massive companies we’ve known for decades shutting their doors, thousands of community businesses suffering, and the uncertainty of how we’ll all operate until a vaccine is secured. And though this pandemic has had a devastating impact, it’s not the first crisis ever. Our country has faced many of them over the past century, and every day people experience their own individual crises. In each case, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, even if we can’t see it yet.
Successful people, especially, aren’t new to failure or to crisis. In fact, one of the key stepping stones to achieving great success is experiencing and navigating uncertainty, unexpected hurdles, and failure. Because when tough things happen, you have a choice—you can let them get you down, or you can learn, grow, and become stronger because of them. This means that successful individuals are much more practiced for times of crisis. Here are five lessons you can learn from them and apply to the one we’re facing now:
- Your Value And Who You Are Isn’t Going To Change
How can business leaders go on when the company they’ve been running has just crumbled? Because their worth and the value they possess isn’t tied to their work or their failures. It’s tied to who they are.
The key to getting to this place of innate confidence is knowing your Zone of Genius—the thinking or problem-solving you’re best at (your Genius) and the impact that’s most meaningful to you (your Purpose). These two data points can help you figure out how you’re most needed during times of crisis and change and understand your value, no matter what is going on around you. Understanding your Zone of Genius is the foundation for everything else.
- Change Is An Opportunity
As humans, we resist change because our brains are more comfortable with the status quo. But when it’s forced, when we have no other option but to face it head-on, endless possibilities emerge.
Successful people see change as a chance to innovate and be creative. When you change your perspective, difficult times can often turn into periods of evolution. Take my client, Christy, the CEO of a live events business. Clearly, she was hard hit with the crisis. However, Christy is clear on her value and knows that times of uncertainty are an opportunity to be strategic.
Instead of panicking, Christy carved out time in her calendar to think about her options. When we spoke, she was calm, excited, energized, and even optimistic. While the world was shifting, Christy’s demeanor made it easy for us to take her initial thinking and build out even more ideas for how her business could pivot and actually be more successful as a result of the crisis.
Use this time to go inward, to reflect on what this strange, uncertain time in life means to you. You’ll be surprised at what insights you discover. Journal, meditate, and reflect. Oftentimes, the answers to what comes next are inside of you, just waiting for you to take a step back and pay attention.
- Money Doesn’t Equal Happiness
Anyone who’s made a lot of money will be the first to tell you this: Money may bring comfort, and it may take away certain worries, but it will not make you happy. It may be powerful, but it isn’t magical. When you’re clear on that, navigating an economic downturn is less scary. If you’ve lost your job or you need to adjust your standard of living, remember that material items have nothing to do with true joy. At the very best, they just bring fleeting moments of happiness. Assuming, of course, that your basic needs are covered, your belief in yourself and your ability to reverse negative thinking and manage your mindset is more important than what’s in your bank account. So, starting today, pay attention to your negative mental chatter. Is it tied to money at all? If so, take some time to create a financial plan that assumes your worst-case financial scenario. I’ve found that knowing what that looks like can be a source of comfort. Even though it’s scary, it gives you back some control. You can figure out what you would need to change if that situation comes to fruition, rather than be paralyzed by fear.
- Your Wellbeing Is Critical When Times Are Hard
Now more than ever is the time to focus on your health and wellness. Successful people know that when times are so uncertain, you must be as mentally and physically strong as possible. Exercising (whatever that looks like for you), eating healthfully, and prioritizing sleep is essential. You won’t be able to rewire your fear or negative thinking if you’re exhausted.
As an entrepreneur, I know for certain that my workouts are directly correlated to every aspect of my success—especially during hard times. I’ve always worked out five days a week and have done a variety of different workouts, based on the amount of time and freedom in my life, and my age. (As a mother of a 2.5-year-old, for example, my six-hour weekend bike rides were no longer possible. I got a Peloton in November, and it’s been a game-changer, especially in this crisis.)
Hard workouts give you a high that can sometimes last for hours. I credit my workouts as being the foundation of my ability to stay optimistic, strong, and able to tackle anything that comes my way.
- Using This Time To Think Is A Gift
For many people, working from home and having limited social activity (other than the occasional virtual happy hour) has meant more time to themselves. Those with small children or newfound homeschooling duties may not have loads of extra solitary time, but I’m willing to bet you can find at least a little. When you’re not commuting or running from one event to the next, there’s more opportunity to be alone with your thoughts. This is a gift, trust me. Successful people know that the more time you have to just think, the better.
Take my client Steve, the CEO of a business that has, like many, been hit hard by Covid-19. Before the crisis, Steve had been struggling to find as much time as he had wanted to think and be strategic. Despite his partner contracting Covid (he recovered, thankfully), he found that the crisis brought him exactly what he had been seeking: more time. More time to read, more time for creative thinking, and more time to research his industry. In our last session, he was inspired, energized, and full of creative ways he could maneuver his business through this time. Take a look at your schedule. Just because you might have more space in it doesn’t mean you need to fill it with another video chat. Instead, block off time to get connected to yourself and your desires.
These 15 questions can help:
- If I really could have it all, what’s my vision for my ideal career?
- How does my current job align with this vision?
- What do I need more of at my job?
- What do I need less of?
- When it comes to my performance and my career thus far, am I more reactive or proactive?
- How can I be more pro active?
- What time of day do I have the most energy, and how can I structure my workday at home to take advantage of that?
- Who is someone I don’t normally get a chance to talk to but can reach out to in the next few weeks?
- Who are some well-known successful people I admire? Are there documentaries I can watch about them to inspire me? Note: There are a lot of them out there right now! My favorites are Inside Bill’s Brain , Being Warren Buffett , Hillary , A Word After a Word After a Word Is Power (about Margaret Atwood), and Life Itself (about Roger Ebert).
- What can I learn now that excites me?
- What are two goals I can work toward that will make me a better leader or employee (or both!)?
- Who are three people who can help me reach my goals who I can seek constructive feedback from in the next week?
- What two books would help me move the needle toward the goals I want to achieve?
- What do I really appreciate about my manager? What can I do to help him or her be successful?
- How can I add more value to my organization during this time of crisis?
It will help you generate new ideas and gain clarity on your life, both professionally and personally.
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