That Knock on The Door
So, there I was, starting up or running my own business, when along came an uninvited and quite counterproductive virus. “Hello there Rona. I’m not pleased to make your acquaintance!”. Now up until this point I was a fairly calm and pragmatic person. I knew what I knew, and I was comfortable believing that hard work and a good product / service was enough to keep me on a path to eventual success. I had reasonable business skills, or so I thought, and I was confident that in the areas where I did struggle a little, I knew where to go to ask for help. Yet, this was before Covid 19 rang my doorbell. No one planned for that. How could you? And the impact on small and not-so-small businesses everywhere can be described as mind-blowing to say the least.
Many of my clients, businesses and individual, have spent time recently sharing with me their fears and setbacks during this global pandemic. Interestingly enough, it is the simple things that seem to plague the conversation. Feeling disconnected from the customer base due to lockdown or a reduction in consumer spending. Finding it hard working from home when an office has been your place of magic for so long. Struggling to manage staff remotely. Losing your confidence against a backdrop of reduced customer inquiry and a business plan that in no way accommodated for a global virus to sweep you off your feet……literally.
This has prompted me regularly to discuss the nature of resilience and attitude, and the importance of these two attributes upon business success. We can go one step further and look at these attributes and their impact on personal success. Business and personal, personal or business, no matter how you look at this, it is clear the trigger for any form of success comes from how you think. When we have our minds switched on to success, we are more likely to innovate and find ways to achieve what we need to achieve. When we have our minds on the problems before (or behind) us; –
• this pesky virus and what we have lost,
• our loss in cash flow,
• the events we have cancelled,
• loss of customers,
• increasing rents,
• loss of staff,
• delays in materials or ingredients,
• how hard it has been, etc, etc, etc
When we focus on these things, our brains become engulfed with negative chemicals and we struggle to pull ourselves up and out of this state. I therefore share with you The Five Tools for Combating the Covid Confidence Crisis.
The Five Tools for Combating the Covid Confidence Crisis
1. Perspective. Whether it is a storm that trashes your café, a printing error that appears on 10,000 of your newly printed product labels, or indeed a global pandemic, it is important to remind ourselves that setbacks are a normal and expected part of the business cycle. Things will and do go wrong and it is not always possible to predict their occurrence. In fact, they are a normal and natural part of life in general. While they may cause immense disruption and trigger the loss of a significant amount of sleep, we must remind ourselves that we learn the most during the hardest periods in our lives, and in our businesses, and that this is a time of great growth, not inevitable failure.
2. Data In Impacts Results Out. What we tell ourselves, otherwise known as self-talk, is critical during this period. Thoughts relating to our own limitations (I Can’t, I Won’t, I Shouldn’t) are of no use to us, especially at this defining crossroad. Now is the time to be paying attention to the ‘Mind Food’ we are feeding ourselves and to increase its nutritional value. Thoughts pertaining to our past successes, our capabilities, what options we do have available to us, what we are good at, how we have won out in the past, what we can and will do, are vitally important at this time and they drive us in to a more innovative, tolerant, and positive space, ready to tackle the path ahead. Ask yourself, what am I telling myself right now and how does it or will it impact my performance?
3. The Power of Questions. When we talk, we are simply stating what we already know. It is data and experience that has already been achieved and learned. When we listen, we seek to gain further information or validation that we may not already have. Yet, when we question, now that is when a whole new world opens to us. Questions are our greatest friend during times of stress and challenge. If we can change our language to ask more questions in any one day; more questions of ourselves, more questions of others; then we unlock answers that we do not currently know and can set ourselves on a new path forward with new data, new possibilities and new resolutions. How can this be done faster? What am I currently doing that is wasteful? How can I make this resource / ingredient / material last longer than in the past? What is an add on product or service that I can provide that can elevate my brand? How can I do more with less? The list is endless and once we press ourselves to find more questions to ask in any one day, it is amazing what can happen to any one person or business.
4. Innovation. Ask yourself “what is one thing that if I could make happen would revolutionise my business?”. It may be fantastical at first. It may seem impossible at first. It may even seem totally downright crazy in the first instance. Yet history has shown us that what we thought was impossible in the past, will most likely turn up as a functional and normal part of our tomorrow. Once we open ourselves to considering more innovative ways of working or a different manufacturing process or a different target market, the brain has a powerful way of taking these ‘crazy’ ideas and working back from how they can actually be done. This type of innovation can be done on your afternoon walk, or the drive home from the office, or over the snap, crackle and pop of your morning Rice bubbles. Whenever it suits, just let your mind ponder on the weird, wonderful, and revolutionary.
5. Refuelling. Any new, old, successful, unsuccessful, big, or small business has an owner who needs fuel. Just like our motor vehicles, running on empty serves to put you on the side of the road. While hard work is critical to surviving the turmoil of any business or personal journey, we must never underestimate that a rested mind and body, is a more productive and functional mind and body. When our confidence starts to tremble and we feel we are losing ground, it is always important to ask ourselves how well rested we are and if we are meeting our nutritional and psychological needs. This includes adequate sleep, having a mentor or friend to talk through our challenges with, eating well, exercising appropriately, and taking time out of the office to invest in our home affairs and the things we enjoy socially. Covid 19 has happened and is happening. Staying on the job eighteen hours a day and eating takeaway from a greasy piece of butcher’s paper does little to chase Rona away and it does not bring new customers to your door. Your greatest business asset is your mind and body, and if it is not running at peak levels of performance, you need to take the time to ensure it does. It is amazing how much confidence and clarity can emerge from a good night’s sleep.
Whether it be Covid 19 this year, a hailstorm next year or the loss of a major account, setbacks and issues are a normal and educational part of any business. It is not what occurs in the path of our business journey that matters most. It is how we react to it, and whether we let the events build up our character or tear down our confidence, that matters the most. May I remind you today that whilst Rona has not helped any of us in business, she has certainly given us reason to rise to the challenge and show her that great people rise during great adversity.