At Strategic Coach®, we help successful business owners increase their sense of direction, confidence, and capability in all areas of their personal and business lives. In normal times, that means providing our world-leading business coaching programmes for entrepreneurs.
Right now, it means providing the leadership you need to navigate successfully through the current global climate and combat any feelings of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty.
This manual was first written for our business coaching clients several years ago in response to a difficult moment in time. We believe it’s important to keep sharing it whenever fear and anxiety arise. It can be tempting to focus only on surviving through difficult times, but with these tips in mind, we’re confident you can continue to thrive.
These ten strategies will help you to keep focusing on opportunities for growth and progress as the world around us becomes more turbulent. We hope they support your creative thinking, communications, and actions as you navigate the anxious, unpredictable months ahead.
1. Forget about yourself; focus on others.
Uncertainty can drive people into themselves, making them feel isolated and helpless. The best strategy here is to go in the opposite direction, expanding your connections with others and focusing on helping them transform their negatives into positives.
The more you contribute in this fashion, the less you’ll need to worry about your own situation. You’ll become a source of confidence for everyone else.
2. Forget about your commodity; focus on your relationships.
In uncertain times, people become anxious about the viability of their ‘commodities’—the things they sell and the jobs they have. A more strategic response here is to disregard your own commodity and focus on deepening the power and possibility of all your relationships—with family, friends, team members, suppliers, clients, customers, and prospects.
Every time you strengthen a relationship, you increase the viability of your commodity.
3. Forget about the sale; focus on creating value.
Most people don’t like being sold to at the best of times. When times are uncertain or scary, they turn off, hang up, and slam shut. But what people do want, at all times, is value creation—in other words, solutions that help them eliminate their dangers, capture their opportunities, and reinforce their strengths.
When you focus on providing these three solutions, the sales will naturally follow.
4. Forget about your losses; focus on your opportunities.
Things you had and may have taken for granted sometimes disappear. Some people never get over this. They keep trying to replay their old games.
A better strategy is to start an entirely new game—using new ideas, new energies, new tools, and new resources. As the world changes, opportunities suddenly become available to achieve far more than you ever did in the past.
5. Forget about your difficulties; focus on your progress.
Things may not be as easy as they once were. New difficulties can either defeat you or reveal new strengths. Your body’s muscles always get stronger from working against resistance. The same is true for the ‘muscles’ in your mind, your spirit, and your character. Treat this whole period of challenge as a time when you can make your greatest progress as a human being.
6. Forget about the ‘future’; focus on today.
The ‘future’ is an abstraction. It doesn’t exist except as an idea. The only future that has any reality is the one you continually create for yourself through each day’s contributions, achievements, and results.
This is an excellent time to ignore all those experts who never saw the present circumstances coming. Focus on what you can do over the course of each 24 hours, and you’ll be the only expert on the future you’ll ever need.
7. Forget about who you were; focus on who you can be.
Many people define themselves by external circumstances. When these abruptly or unexpectedly change, they don’t know who they are, so they keep trying to be who they used to be.
From now on, take your cues from the inside—from your dreams, ideals, values, and operating principles. These need never change, regardless of the circumstances. Take advantage of external confusion and anxiety to become self-directed, self-managed, and self-motivated.
8. Forget about events; focus on your responses.
When things are going well, many people think they’re actually in control of events. That’s why they feel so defeated and depressed when things turn bad. They think they’ve lost some fundamental ability. The most consistently successful people in the world know they can’t control events—but continually work toward greater control over their creative responses to events.
Anytime there is fear, uncertainty, or discomfort, it’s an excellent time to focus your attention and energies on being creatively responsive to all the unpredictable events that lie ahead.
9. Forget about what’s missing; focus on what’s available.
When things change for the worse, many desirable resources are inevitably missing, including information, knowledge, tools, systems, personnel, and capabilities. These deficiencies can make many people anxious; it can paralyse people who believe they can’t make decisions or take action.
A strategic response is to take advantage of every resource that is immediately available to achieve as many small results and make as much daily progress as possible. Work with every resource and opportunity to hand, and your confidence will continually grow.
10. Forget about your complaints; focus on your gratitude.
When times get tough, everyone has to make a fundamental decision: to complain or to be grateful. In an environment where negative sentiment is rampant, the consequences of this decision are much greater. Complaining only attracts negative thoughts and people.
Gratitude, on the other hand, creates the opportunity for the best thinking, actions, and results to emerge. Focus on everything you’re grateful for, communicate this, and open yourself each day to the best possible consequences.
We know it’s hard to stay positive in the face of uncertainty and change. However, even when it feels like everything is out of your control, you’ve always got a choice about where to direct your focus. You can always choose to look for opportunities for growth, for connection with other people, and for self-improvement. Make these the constants of your life, and no amount of uncertainty will defeat you.
Want to hear more from Dan on succeeding in these uncertain times? Listen to our Scary Times podcast series.