As a business leader in your community, in times of intense difficulty, people will look to you for a model of how to be successful in a crisis.
That’s not to put pressure on you.
It’s to reveal the fact that you’ve got another opportunity to show the world what you can do.
When a crisis hits you, your family, your business, or the world, it’s okay to feel a little rattled in the moment or unsure of what to do next.
But, that can’t be the end of the story.
After all, you’ve worked too hard and for too long to let this (whatever it is) be the thing that defeats you.
As you start and grow your business, you’re going to hit bumps in the road. Obstacles – big and small – are just part of the process.
If you need a primer on that, hit pause on this article and go read one of my previous posts: How to Accept and Overcome Obstacles As You Start A New Business.
Again, it’s okay to worry, but don’t panic – to be successful in a crisis depends largely on how successful you are at managing yourself. So, how will you respond?
To be successful in a crisis, you need to be able to make active choices.
That’s different from reacting in the moment out of stress, fear, or anxiety. It’s about being intentional about what comes next.
The best thing you can do for yourself is pause and give yourself a moment to think so that you can reground yourself.
Notice whatever you’re feeling. Create some awareness of where that feeling is coming from.
Then, make an active choice and decide what to do with that feeling.
Will you act on it or discard it?
This is a practiced skill.
It’s not easy. And, even time-tested leaders occasionally fail to get it right in the moment.
One of my favorite books of the year has been The Ride of a Lifetime by Robert Iger, the former CEO of Disney. At one point, Iger describes a scene where he sort of lost his temper during a high pressure situation. Here are his reflections:
“I think of it as a hard-earned lesson in the importance of tenacity and perseverance, but also the need to steer clear of anger and anxiety over things you can’t control. I can’t overstate how important it is to keep blows to the ego, real as they often are, from occupying too big a place in your mind and sapping too much of your energy. It’s easy to be optimistic when everyone is telling you you’re great. It’s much harder, and much more necessary, when your sense of yourself is being challenged, and in such a public way.”
In other words, don’t take it personally.
Obstacles are to be expected. Your response, however, is yours to shape.
A crisis is just another – albeit much larger – obstacle.
How might you respond in a way that puts your values on display?
ACCEPT WHAT’S NOT IN YOUR CONTROL
My favorite book to explore this topic in depth is Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle Is The Way.
Here’s an excerpt:
“The shot didn’t go in. The stock went to zero. The weather disrupted the shipment. Say it with me: C’est la vie. It’s all fine. You don’t have to like something to master it – or to use it to some advantage. When the cause of our problem lies outside of us, we are better for accepting it and moving on. For ceasing to kick and fight against it, and coming to terms with it. Let’s be clear, that is not that same thing as giving up. This has nothing to do with action – this is for the things that are immune to action. It is far easier to talk of the way things should be. It takes toughness, humility, and will to accept them for what they actually are.”
In other words, accept what you can’t control and direct your energy to what you can control.
You can’t control a pandemic, for example.
But, you can choose how to respond to it.
You can choose how to manage your energy, what to prioritize, and what to let go of.
In the face of such an obstacle, it’s your job to make active choices about the kind of person you want to be and the kind of business you want to run.
Then, rise to the occasion to meet the moment.
Or, don’t. Recognize, however, that inaction is also a choice.
What’s not in your control? And, what is?
TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN A CRISIS: ADAPT
Ultimately, the businesses that last are the ones that adapt to changing circumstances, like consumer preferences, regulation or policy changes, and, yes, even pandemics.
The world is volatile.
The only constant is change.
There will always be another obstacle or crisis to overcome.
So, why not use this crisis as your first opportunity to intentionally grow these skills?
- Imagine for a moment someone you know or look up to who’s cool under pressure.
- What skills do they possess?
- Which of those skills might be worth emulating?
- Now, start emulating. Pretend to wear that hat for a little bit and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can copy/paste those skills to your own brain.
What skills help you be successful in a crisis?
Stay tuned for more, right here on the 321 Liftoff blog.
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ONE MORE THING
Starting and growing a business is not a straight line.
It can feel messy – it zigs and zags, it starts and stops. It can feel frustrating even for the most seasoned business owners. And, that’s ok.
It’s also an exciting challenge. It’s going to stretch you. You’re going to learn a lot – not just about business, but about yourself.
And, that’s why it’s worth it.