ED: I have a question for you, are you tired? A little worn out? A little weary? Fatigued? Fearful? A little anxious or uncertain? I don’t believe in ignoring reality, especially because we can easily allow our realities to become skewed. Now, many people call me a joybeast, but I gotta tell ya, it’s difficult right now to be optimistic and hopeful, when everywhere we turn, it’s bad news. We hear the economy’s blowing up. There’s a huge health crisis with lots of deaths. Businesses are folding. People are out of jobs. It just keeps going. While that’s all true, I believe that even today the bad news is not the full story. I believe that the story we lean into is the story we will arrive at.
After several months of worrying, asking where is my business going? How are my clients and their businesses? Do we need to restructure? Is our go-to-market strategy even valid? Should we rethink our entire product offering or go-to-market strategy? Will we have enough cash flow, or can we pay our financing? Of course, these are all valid questions. But consider what’s happening, as small or big as it may be, people are discovering new ways to serve others. They are discovering new ways to care about others and see people for who they are. With companies doing this, I believe there is a glimpse of better.
So what do you do? How do I suggest you consider being more disciplined, more deliberate, more intentional about leaning into better? There are a couple of things that I’ve adopted over the last several months that can help you.
First, as much as I am a marketer and believe in social media, my gosh it can be a wasteland of negativity and fear. I encourage you to be very aware of your social media intake, as well as your social media output. I believe that we each have a light that we put out into the world. And we have a light that we allow others to shine on us. Be very, very careful right now about the light you’re choosing to put out into the world. Be even more careful about the light you’re allowing into your space. Now, I don’t believe in unfriending people because you disagree with them. But I do believe in quieting them and ignoring them for 30 days because frankly, there are some people out there that they are so fearful and anxious that their solution is to stay in the fear. Honestly, I don’t want to live there any more than I have to.
Second, I encourage you to choose your news sources wisely. I had a conversation with my 21-year old son, and he was describing several things going on in the world based on a 288-character news report on Twitter. His information was not published by a journalist, a medical doctor, or even an expert on human and race relations. Those 288 characters told 288 characters worth of the story. So I encourage you not to use Twitter as your sole source when trying to understand what’s going on in the world. When I read a story—whether it’s something that concerns me or excites me—I find two or three sources. By using two or three sources, I am better able to get the full story versus just someone’s interpretation of it.
Third, there’s a lot of feedback being given on how we can be better humans, better businesspeople, and better customers. There’s also information telling us how to be a better family member, spouse, partner, father, son, mother, daughter, child… That’s a lot of feedback coming our way. When I’m fatigued, and someone gives me feedback, my response is not always positive—many times its defensiveness. I encourage you to try this simple methodology—when someone gives you feedback, asks you to do something differently, or suggests that you could do something better, instead of immediately responding with a reaction, start with “thank you.” Starting out your response like that shows that you appreciate that they shared something with you and that you’re trying to understand what they are saying.
I teach indoor cycling, and while I can ride pretty quickly, I believe one of the greatest strengths I bring to those rides is that I focus not just on the rider’s output, I focus on their intake. In other words, I coach as much about breath as I do about speed and resistance. That is, the best way for you to calm your mind, body, and spirit is to breathe. And while breathing is involuntary, especially in times of fatigue, your breath needs to be involuntary.
So here’s what I suggest that you can do at any time you find yourself getting anxious. Whether it’s internal and based on fear or a reaction to something that just happened, remember, you don’t have to react quickly. What you can do is breathe. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. What’s amazing is if you take eight seconds to breathe, you can gain clarity of mind. You can do this while you’re running a sprint up a mountain or riding an indoor cycling bike. You can do this when you walk in the door at home. You can do this when your CPA calls and says, “Did you realize that this is our financial situation today?” You can do this at any time when you’re in a situation you don’t want to be in.
As an entrepreneur who has worked with entrepreneurs, businesses, and brands over the last 20-30 years, I gotta tell ya whenever I see a leader leaning into fear the outcome is usually not good. When I see a leader who creates anxiety for themselves and their team, the result is not good. When I see a leader who is leaning into better, not only are the joys of running your own business more real and magnified, the direction the business tends to be more fulfilled. So from now on, please be mindful of what you choose to receive. Be careful what you decide to produce, lead with your breath, and lean into good. You can do it!