by Michelle Ray
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is impacting every aspect of life and business at unprecedented levels. Thousands of people have died, many hundreds of thousands have contracted the virus and potentially millions may already have either been in contact with an infected person but have yet to be diagnosed. Individuals in all walks of life are seeking solutions. While the world waits for a vaccine and containment of the virus, there are solutions available to lead yourself through uncertain times.
The outbreak has affected my business, as well as many of my clients who have either cancelled or indefinitely postponed meetings and events. News of travel bans, updates, and additional precautionary messages are occurring on a minute-to-minute basis. Traditional and social media are flooded with reports and posts as the World Health Organization declares the virus to be a global pandemic. Public and private LinkedIn and Facebook pages are inundated with news feeds and discussions within on-line communities regarding the outbreak. People are genuinely concerned about their livelihoods and a global economic meltdown. An environment of uncertainty and fear prevails. Governments and businesses are looking for answers. No one can predict how long this crisis will last, as so much of what is happening is outside of anyone’s control. During uncertain times, it is important to remember that you can take the following steps to lead yourself to manage your concerns and maintain your perspective:
1. The Power of Choice
While the situation is not identical to the SARS outbreak in 2003 or the World Financial Crisis of 2009, the level of panic is similar. I can vividly recall the impact of both events on my business, as well as my psyche. The circumstances forced me to change my speaking services and offerings, although I am certain that I did not view those times as a “blessing.” Nonetheless, I learned invaluable lessons regarding my perceptions and choices. Ultimately, I realized that I had options…the most powerful, optimum choice was to focus on what was within my control. I gave myself permission to feel my fear, to cry…whatever feeling I needed to express, and to move forward by digging deep into my resolve with each passing day. I continued to take care of myself emotionally, spiritually and financially in order to prepare for the future.
2. Activate a proactive mindset
The ability to remain positive and proactive during current times has everything to do with mindset. Your mindset dictates the manner in which you deal with situations and the lens you use to view the world. Each thought drives your actions resulting in specific outcomes. During my most formative years, my parents were extraordinary role models. Both endured unspeakable loss and tragedy during the Second World War. At times it was very difficult for them to speak about their experiences and my father had recurring nightmares. I have vivid memories of their suffering through many illnesses, severe financial loss during several recessions, including losing their home. As a teenager, I can still picture my father sitting on the couch in his pajamas, unemployed. There were many dark times. But through it all, they survived. I learned first hand that by adapting a resilient mindset, you can position yourself to rise above and reframe situations. The alternative is to bury your head in the sand and allow negative thoughts to envelope your being. While this is tempting to avoid reality, the chances are that you will eventually need to resurface and accept that certain conditions of your life have changed.
3. Redefine aspects of your work and business
It may seem irksome to suggest that adversity is an opportunity in disguise., especially in the midst of a world crisis. Nonetheless, examples abound of individuals who have overcome tremendous obstacles that were not of their own making, choosing to redefine the course of their lives as a direct result of their experiences. Whether you are self-employed or an employee, you do have a choice in terms of your response to the current health and economic situation. For example, if you find yourself working from home, travelling less or earning less income, now may be an ideal time to explore virtual business opportunities to utilize your expertise in a different way. Technology affords us new ways to secure new streams of income, foster connections and grow our networks.
Expending energy on situations that are outside of your control will ultimately leave you exhausted. By taking the time for some introspection and consider what you can do, you will minimize your stress, anxiety, and fear. Learning to rise above uncertainty and adversity remain sought-after business and life skills. While there is no doubt many of us share a sincere concern for the health and wellbeing of our global community, this time in history may also serve as an opportunity to reflect, learn and grow from adversity.