Looking Past the Bad News

Accepting that there is no one to blame is hard – often, it’s harder than dealing with perceived injustice.

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Let me be very, very clear before I begin – in no way am I trying to brush off the severity of COVID-19’s very real impacts across the globe. The financial impacts of our current health scare are far from the most serious effects the world has seen in recent times.

The Uncontrollable

When I learned that an upcoming Time To Grow Global workshop had been cancelled, I was already on the ground in Dubai. Having dedicated four long weeks to resource creation, comprehensive and bespoke program planning, and mentally preparing myself for a great experience, I was thrown off course.

Would my clients be alright? Was there any way I could still be of value? What could I, as a co-business owner, have done differently?

The answers then were uncertain, but once I received a reassuring “Yes,” to my first question, I gave myself time to process the shock. Then, I was ready to recalibrate.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far from a business perspective about dealing with uncontrollable circumstances. And, how you can do the same so you can continue growing and learning in the face of sudden change.

1. It’s Not Fair.

When we receive bad news, we often think: “That’s not fair.” We may not recognize the thought instantly, but I believe it occurs at least unconsciously, almost every time.

How can we fix it? Something (or someone) must be to blame – maybe it’s me, maybe them, and so on. We are human; we want to make sense of the world. But just sometimes, there is simply none to be made.

Accepting that there is no one to blame is hard – often, it’s harder than dealing with perceived injustice. But it’s necessary if we want to move forward, as individuals and as business owners. “It’s not fair and that’s that. What can we do with what we’ve got right now?”

2. Assess Your Resources.

So focused on our financial losses at that point, I could only see one potential resource at my disposal: time. “Far too much of it,” I thought.

But soon, my rational brain caught up with my loss-averse reptile brain, and I realized I had much more.

  • 4 potential weeks to get things done – all the things I’d been putting off (forever).
  • 4 weeks worth of carefully researched, designed, and ready-to-deliver workshop sequences.
  • A huge library of resources, including handouts, workbooks, slides, lessons, and
  • An eye-opening (albeit unpleasant) learning experience.

I had everything I needed at my fingertips to create an online masterclass, downloadable resources, customizable templates for future workshops, blogs and videos…the list goes on.

I didn’t just have time, really, what I had was countless opportunities.

3. Adapt and Adjust

The ability to pivot and change strategies is essential in our VUCA world. In these complex circumstances, it’s time to put that theory into action so we can evolve.

For me, that meant finding new ways to progress on my long-term goals, like upping my marketing. Cracking on with evergreen workshop resources. Tackling the operational side of our new Dubai offices. Things that are always important, but always seem to be in the ‘Tomorrow’ basket.

Big-picture-wise, it meant

  • Planning for the things I can control – like contractual clauses, insurance, damage minimalization, and emergency checklists; then
  • Planning what I’ll do when I can’t control a single thing – how I can better accept, assess, and adapt.

The Practical.

Uncontrollable and unmanageable are two different things. Just because It’s Not Fair sometimes, we can still deal by pivoting and being flexible. Moving forward, we can look around us and within ourselves to assess all our resources – not just the tangible ones.

Can you turn your service into a product or the other way around?

Can you connect with your overall vision, and find a new path forward?

Will you ask your customers what they would like from the situation?

Is there another way your core strengths can be leveraged in this situation?

I want to know about your experiences when the unexpected strikes. As a professional and as a person, how have you responded to what’s going on right now? What’s worked best for you?

As the disease continues to devastate lives and businesses, however, we’re all struggling to deal with so much bad news. And that means trying to reframe the situation as best we can.

Within every challenge lies opportunity, as I mentioned in my recent LinkedIn post. So when we can’t well do much else, it’s well worth seeking out those opportunities.

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