I’ve been thinking a lot about resilience this week. And it’s inspired me to reach out and share with you.
My son and I were supermarket shopping. One of the guys who worked in the fruit section was coughing like crazy. My son (who’s way taller than me!) grabbed my arm and asked, do you think it might be the virus? He’s eyes darted aside, whispering so no one would hear. Momentarily I felt like I might be in one of those movies, the ones I never watch so sorry if it sounds sketchy. You know where some weird illness breaks out and then everyone dies or turns into a zombie and you’re the only healthy one and you’re running for your life. In the last few days, I’m guessing I’m not the only one thinking about this genre of films.
I have to admit, I did feel a moment of concern as I assured my son that this is prime time for colds and coughs and flus. I told him I’m quite sure the friendly fruit guy is perfectly ok and we are not about to catch the virus. And my moment of concern, of course I gave myself a stern talking to, and continued on my way.
You see, I’m super fortunate. I don’t get freaked out easily. I’m quite level-headed, my father would call me ‘reasonably sensible’; I don’t tend to worry incessantly about this kind of thing. At least not anymore! I guess I’ve developed some resilience around the how, why and what of worry.
I used to have this motto (at least in jest!) – why wait ten years to worry if I can start now! I used to think about the future and all the things that could go wrong. The job I wouldn’t get, the mortgage I’d default on, the savings I’d lose or never save in the first place, the illnesses I’d get and the disasters I would befall. And then when the kids came, oh my goodness, it got so much worse. There were a million tiny and enormous things to worry about every single moment of every single day.
It was impossible and unbearable.
Of course, I’m exaggerating a little, I don’t think I was quite such a basket case, but I did worry quite a lot. And it became clear that it’s not a way to live. And even more clear, as I started my business, that it’s not a way to run a business. In fact, it was through my business that I believe the change began.
You see, it’s impossible to be an entrepreneur if you worry too much. If you can’t take a healthy amount of risk, you really can’t start or run a business. Because there are no assurances. It’s never clear what will happen and whether your ideas will work and your products or services sell. You can do all the preparation in the world but something unlikely can happen and you may fall down and then pick yourself right up again.
And this is what began to happen. Not just once, but many times.
I would try something, and it might work, but it might not. And after a while I realized that it didn’t really matter, it was all in the learning, in the longer view, the bigger game.
All I needed to do, was keep going, keep trying and keep believing.
Maybe that sounds over simplified, but I truly believe that it was the key to building resilience in my business and in my life.
Here are the 3 steps:
- The present is all that matters. What has happened in the past is gone and perhaps never even was (yes, your memory of the past is completely subjective, my story will always be different so it really doesn’t matter), and the future has not yet happened and you absolutely cannot predict. So, stay with now and take the actions that will keep you moving forward while being fully routed in the present.
- Fretting, worrying and spending time imagining what will happens is a waste of time and will not impact the actual outcome – spend your time in research, conversation and creation – then you know you are discovering the truth for you and others.
- Know that what has changed, or failed or become difficult is not you, it’s WHAT YOU DO. It doesn’t define you; you define it. And you can change it. And find the thing that does work.
Of course, we all want everything to work out in the end. No, that’s not true, we want everything to work out in the start, but that’s not realistic. What is possible, it to do your due diligence, to understand your market, to become an expert, to learn how to offer cool and smart things, to be flexible and listen to your clients. And to know that sometimes you might get it wrong but that doesn’t mean that you are wrong, it means that you need to go back to the drawing board and figure it out some more.
I had a situation like this recently. I put my heart and soul into a project that failed. The client the project. And it felt like they rejected me. And it was hard. Very hard. But you know what, researching, designing and creating that work woke me up and made me feel alive. In a way that I haven’t for years. So I’m thrilled. Not that the project failed, but that I found something I love and it means I need to figure out how I can do it – and get paid for it. Perhaps it was just not the right client – or maybe I need to do it differently, but do it I will.
So, whether it’s a virus, or a mismatch with your client, whether it’s a cancelled conference or a redirected flight, whether it’s illness or the loss of a friend, you are more resilient than you think and you can figure this out.
I know you can. And I believe in you.