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Growth Through Suffering

Keys to calmness, hopefulness, entrepreneurship, gratitude and generosity that spur growth even when it hurts.

“In great difficulty, there is great opportunity” — Albert Einstein.

I don’t know about you, but when I read a quote like this, I think to myself, “That’s nice, but I’d rather find opportunities elsewhere, like in times of great prosperity.”

Let’s be honest, most of us don’t like to experience difficult moments in life. Yet, the reality is we all will. So wouldn’t it be nice if there was a playbook that we could follow that would help us navigate times of adversity and help us like Einstein, see these times as opportunities? Well, consider this another rendition of “How to Suffer Well: For Dummies.”

Below are five steps that an individual, company or team can follow to suffer well and find opportunities that normally would not present themselves so clearly. You just might realize that when all is said and done and the suffering is over, what started off as bitter to taste, is now sweet as honey.

Don’t Panic

How many times have we heard from financial planners and leading economic experts that during times of economic recession, never (ever) pull out of your investments? Or, how many times have we heard the old saying, “Stay the course!”  

So why would we not follow this sound advice when it’s time to put it to use?

Many athletes and military veterans can attest that practicing the small things daily enables you to fall back on your training when things get tough. Well folks, this is the time to fall back on our training. Don’t freak out, don’t pull out and stay the course! For those of you who own companies or are decision-makers, this applies to your strategic partnerships who are providing an ROI for your business. Why stop a revenue source just because things outside of your control are causing you to lose revenue? That’s like being shot in the arm and deciding to shoot your foot too. 

Have Hope, Friend

Hope is a virtue that is often overlooked in modern society and replaced with science and facts.  If numbers can’t predict the outcome, then physical science tells us it can’t happen. However, everyone knows or has heard of a story about a person who had cancer, and despite all odds of survival, did not give up hope and won the fight, hoping that they will beat it… and did!

No matter what our religious or non-religious affiliation, everyone has faith. Every day, we believe in things that we can’t see. You believe in something that you don’t see.

For example, I can believe that one day, we will send people to the planet Mars. We have not seen it happen yet, that is, people sent to Mars, but we, nonetheless, expect that it will happen one day. The fact that we believe in the possibility is not necessarily hoping, but hope is our expectation that the belief will come true.

Therefore, hope is expectant faith. During the COVID-19 pandemic, outside of a vaccine itself, hope and expectant faith are the most-needed antidotes, not fear. If you are an owner, CEO or executive, it is your responsibility to instill hope and optimism into your employees so that in times of trial and great difficulty, they can see that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and by working together, we will survive. Hope reassures us of things to come.

Take Advantage

Remember the quote, “In great difficulty, there is great opportunity”? Ask yourself right now, what are the opportunities at this time in history? They are present everywhere!  Let’s look at a few:

More time with family. Many of us are being asked to work from home, and at the same time, our children are required to stay home too. Even sporting activities are canceled or greatly reduced. Rather than seeing this as a burden (or perhaps you’re jumping up and down with excitement, good for you), take advantage of this opportunity to be with family. Soak it up and remind yourself, “I am not promised tomorrow, so let me live as if it’s my last day to enjoy,” and go dust off the Yahtzee dice!

More time with yourself.  Now that most extracurricular activities and volunteer programs are canceled, take this time for reflection and personal development. Consider learning a new hobby or picking up that hobby that you put down years ago. What was that thing that if you had time for, you promised yourself you would do? Oh yeah, learn to play the guitar or if you just can’t stop working, creating that bonus structure that will increase employee retention and incentivize my employees to work harder.

More discounts and special promotions. Have you seen or heard of any company running special promotions lately? Chances are, you probably have.  You’re not the only company that’s being affected.

We’re all in this together. Why not take advantage of this time when companies are hoping to reach quotas in midst of this crisis and are willing to be flexible with pricing and services? Why pay more down the road, when you can get the deal of your lifetime and save hundreds, and likely thousands, over the course of a few years, if you just act now? Is waiting two months and playing it safe worth the huge savings that you would be losing in return?

Invest in stocks. Hey, why not. Stocks are super cheap these days. Warren Buffet, one of the richest persons alive has a famous saying, “Fear when people are greedy. Be greedy when people are fearful.” This is the time to be greedy with stocks. While most of America is pulling out and slowing down their spends, you can capitalize on this and thank them later for your very rich and diverse portfolio. I’ve bought into 10 companies myself!

Invest in your company. Right now, many of your competitors are decreasing spends, lowering marketing budgets, and darn right doing what you should not be doing: pulling out of investments.  Why not show them that you will not let fear slow you down. You just might realize that your prudent choice to invest now when your company needs it the most will position you to hold the most market share.

So what are you waiting for? If your child was sick, would you not spend money on the best doctors to help them get better? Doesn’t your company deserve the same?

Be Thankful

You’re still alive. And, I am so grateful that you are here.

For most of us, we still have food to eat, a car to drive, adequate clothes to wear, a house to go home to, a source of income to provide for our needs. There’s always, always, always, something to be thankful for. Adversity helps remind us of this.

One practice that helps me to be more grateful throughout the day is thinking of five things that I am thankful for every night before bed.  I try to avoid the obvious like, “I’m grateful for food.” Give it a try! What I think you’ll realize is that you have so many things to be grateful for and can probably name 15 or even 30 things from just one day alone. If you do this long enough, you’ll start to notice that you are a much more joyful and grateful person.

Help Someone

Chances are, you know someone or some company that was greatly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Be a neighbor to them. Even if it’s just sending them a note that says, “I’m thinking about you.” This can go along way, and next time when it’s your turn to suffer more than others, they may remember you and the kindness you showed them and show that back to you.

Kindness is contagious, even more than COVID-19.  If anything, you will learn to grow in compassion for your neighbor and selflessness with yourself. The adage, “For it is in giving that we receive,” is indeed true. If you’ve ever helped a neighbor, given to a local charity, or spent time working at a soup kitchen, you realize that there is a sense of satisfaction when you help those less fortunate than yourself.  In this time, think about those who are impacted worse than you are by this virus, and try doing something to make their suffering easier.  You would want the same.  Even if it’s just putting a smile on their face.

In times of difficulty, we can either choose to let fear of the unknown, block us and prevent us from reaching our desires, or we can choose to let that same fear awaken our courage so that we can do things that others thought were impossible.  May our eyes be open so that we can see the opportunities all around us and take advantage of this time.  I’m wishing you the best my friends! Cheers!

About the author…

Damian Santiago is a proud husband, father and a self-proclaimed couch philosopher and theologian. He bleeds scarlet and grey (go Bucks!) and loves hanging out with family and friends. In his spare time, he enjoys playing strategic board games, working out at the gym, playing sports with friends and going out to eat. His favorite sports activities are ultimate Frisbee, golf, tennis and basketball.

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