Entrepreneurs, business owners, and company leaders in every industry are living in a state of overwhelm right now.
The rules of business have changed seemingly overnight, and many are struggling to adapt to the new normal of our current reality.
The number of decisions business owners and leaders need to make daily is staggering. How do we communicate with customers? What do we do about projects put on hold? How do we keep our employees safe? What kind of infrastructure do we need to support our remote workers? And of course, the biggest decision of all, what steps must we take to ensure our business survives this crisis?
Being a business owner or company leader requires you to be nimble and ready to react at a moment’s notice. But that doesn’t negate the fact that you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Now more than ever you need to commit to your goals and squash any fears that may be holding you or your company back.
The following 5 strategies will help you persevere through any challenge, stay on track with your dreams, and emerge from the crisis victoriously.
STATEGY ONE: Be Tenacious
As an entrepreneur, business owner, or company leader, you likely made the decision to be tenacious long ago. After all, if you hadn’t, you wouldn’t be in the position you are today. Now is the time to double down on that commitment, not back away from it. Times of crisis demand boldness, innovation, and tenacity like no other. If you feel your tenacity wavering, pick a mantra that is powerful and motivating for you and have it play on a loop in your mind. Some common mantras leaders use to build their tenacity are “never give up,” “tough times don’t last; tough people do,” and “persistence breaks down resistance.” Pick a phrase that works for you and use it as your guide.
STRATEGY TWO: Look to Your Past Challenges and How You Overcame Them
We’ve all had to overcome challenges in the past. Whether it was a business failure, a job loss, the death of a loved one, or anything else, no one’s life is without obstacles. And, believe it or not, that’s a good thing, because by living and working through those setbacks, you learned some important and useful skills. Even though the current global challenge facing us may seem different than anything anyone has experienced in the past, the fact is that the skills you have honed over the years during other challenges are the same skills that will get you through the current crisis. Just as a skilled cyclist picks themselves up after a wipeout and can ride again, so can you if you focus on the skills you already have.
STRATEGY THREE: Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
During times of crisis, you will need to try new things—maybe even things you never imagined you’d do. Often, that means being uncomfortable. For example, many business owners are now doing live videos on social media to stay in front of customers and prospects. While they may be very comfortable giving scripted messages to the camera, talking off the cuff, in a casual setting (such as their home), is very different. During any crisis, “business as usual” isn’t enough. Therefore, think about what new, uncomfortable things you can do to keep your company top-of-mind for your customers.
STRATEGY FOUR: Reinvent Your Message
If your sales have dropped or projects have been put on hold, taking a “wait and see” stance is dangerous. You need to keep your business profitable during the crisis, so you may need to reinvent or reposition your message and your offerings. The key is to find the pain your clients are having right now (which may be very different from the pain they were trying to address a mere 3 months ago), and then deliver solutions to meet their current needs. Realize that repositioning your offering often requires only a slight pivot, not a 180-degree change. Look at some examples currently occurring in communities across the country: restaurants offering grocery delivery services, distilleries making hand sanitizer, apparel and shoe makers adding face masks to their product line, etc. You already know how to reposition—you did it when you started your business or leadership position. Simply put that skill to work again now.
STRATEGY FIVE: Protect Your Company’s Culture
In order for your business to survive and thrive during a crisis, you need to nurture and protect the company culture you’ve worked so hard to create. This requires you to model strength for your employees, and to communicate honestly and often with them. The goal is to keep fear at a minimum and to make your employees feel safe. Let them know that they are doing a fabulous job during all the changes. Listen to their ideas. Ensure they feel part of the team and valued. Above all else, make sure they know—both by your words and your actions—that you are going to lead them through the storm.
STRATEGY SIX: Embrace the Challenge
They say that necessity is the mother of invention. And it’s true! In fact, often the best innovations come during times of crisis. The key is for you to assess the situation, determine where your business can add value, and then take action using the strategies outlined here. When you do, you’ll find that your company can weather any obstacle and emerge as the marketplace leader.
About the Author: Shelley Armato is CEO at MySmartPlans, a provider of best-in-class SaaS construction technology that eliminates risk, creates transparency and protects the budget. She provides professional construction services to some of the most prestigious business owners in the healthcare, scholastic, government, and other commercial market sectors. Contact her at www.mysmartplans.com.
Is Fear Holding You Back from Achieving Your Goals? By Angela Civitella
Research first diagnosed the fear of success a couple of decades ago. The findings, at the time, related to fear of success in women, and the results proved incredibly controversial.
Since then, however, most scientists and psychologists agree that the fear of success exists for both men and women. Fear of success is similar to the fear of failure. They have many of the same symptoms, and both fears hold you back from achieving your dreams and goals.
Signs of Fear of Success
The biggest problem for many people is that their fear of success is largely unconscious. They just don’t realize that they’ve been holding themselves back from doing something great. If you experience the following thoughts or fears, you might have a fear of success on some level:
- You feel guilty about any success you have, no matter how small, because your friends, family, or co-workers haven’t had the same success.
- You don’t tell others about your accomplishments.
- You avoid or procrastinate on big projects, especially projects that could lead to recognition.
- You frequently compromise your own goals or agenda to avoid conflict in a group or even conflict within your family.
- You self-sabotage your work or dreams by convincing yourself that you’re not good enough to achieve them.
- You feel, subconsciously, that you don’t deserve to enjoy success in your life.
- You believe that if you do achieve success, you won’t be able to sustain it. Eventually, you’ll fail and end up back in a worse place than where you started. So, you think, “why bother?”
What are the Causes?
The fear of success has several causes:
- We fear what success will bring, for example: loneliness, new enemies, being isolated from our family, longer working hours, or being asked for favors or money.
- We’re afraid that the higher we climb in life, the further we’re going to fall when we make a mistake.
- We fear the added work, responsibilities, or criticism that we’ll face.
- We fear that our relationships will suffer if we become successful. Our friends and family will react with jealousy and cynicism, and we’ll lose the ones we love.
- We fear that accomplishing our goals, and realizing that we have the power to be successful, may actually cause an intense regret that we didn’t act sooner.
Overcoming the Fear of Success
You can use several different strategies to overcome your fear of success. The good news is that the more you face your fears, bring them to the surface, and analyze them rationally, the more you’re likely to weaken those fears – and dramatically reduce your reluctance to achieve your goals.
Take a realistic look at what will happen if you succeed with your goal. Don’t look at what you hope will happen, or what you fear will happen. Instead, look at what is likely to happen.
It’s important not to give a quick answer to this. Take at least 15 minutes to examine the issues, and write down your answers to questions like:
- How will my life change?
- What’s the worst that could happen if I achieve this goal?
- What’s the best that could happen?
- Why do I feel that I don’t deserve to accomplish this goal?
- How motivated am I to work toward this goal?
- What am I currently doing to sabotage, or hurt, my own efforts?
- How can I stop those self-sabotaging behaviors?
Another useful technique is to address your fears directly, and then develop a backup plan that will overcome your concern. For instance, suppose you don’t push yourself to achieve a promotion, and the biggest reason is because you secretly fear that the additional income and recognition would jeopardize your family relationships and your integrity. You’re worried that you would be so busy working to maintain your success that you’d never see your family, and you might be forced to make choices that would destroy your integrity.
To overcome these fears, start by addressing your workload. You could set a rule for yourself that you’ll always be home by 7 p.m. You could tell this to your boss if you’re offered the new position.
For issues involving integrity, you always have a choice. If you set maintaining your integrity as your top goal, then you’ll always make the right choice. By creating backup plans that address your fears, you can often eliminate those fears entirely.
Fear of success is common, and many of us don’t realize that we have it. If this is your current situation, it’s time to let go of the chains that are holding you back from reaching the ultimate level of success in all that you do. Trust me, once you break free, you’ll never look back.
Angela Civitella is a certified business management coach and the founder of Intinde. www.intinde.com
Networking for Introverts – by Ted Janusz
Studies show that up to 93 percent of adults consider themselves shy. And those studies were conducted even before we were encouraged to avoid others by adopting the practice of social distancing and to don the facial attire worn by bank robbers.
Is it any wonder then that when you now go to a social gathering, you may feel uncomfortable? You may look around the room and think (probably in error), “Everybody here knows each other!” or “I knew it was a bad idea to come here!” or “Everybody is looking at me!”
Relax. There is a good chance that most of the room is feeling just as you are. To advance both personally and professionally, we need to engage with people. And sometimes we just need to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
To lessen your anxiety, here are six things you can do:
- Determine in advance your reasons for attending a social event. If necessary, write out the reasons on the back of a business card and sneak a look at the card while you are at the event. You will find that you can do just about anything in life if your why is strong enough. The real secret to successful time management is to constantly ask oneself, “Is this the best use of my time right now?” If so, go to the event and make the best of it. If not, go do something else.
- Plan what you will say when you meet another person at the event. If you can make your opening statement interesting, or better yet humorous, the conversation can get off to a great start. For instance, at a wedding, one guest introduced herself by saying, “Hello! I am a former girlfriend of the groom’s father!”
- Go with a friend. You may know people at the event your friend is unfamiliar with, and vice versa. You can introduce your friend to others and say things about your friend that he may socially be unable to say about himself. And he can do the same for you! Speaker Patricia Fripp says, “It’s like being with your own PR person. We say about each other that which we would not say about ourselves.”
- Look for a person standing alone. “The person, who is speaking to no one, would welcome your conversation,” notes Susan RoAne, “The Mingling Maven,” and best-selling author of How to Work a Room: The Ultimate Guide to Making Lasting Impressions – in Person and Online. “Just because someone is standing alone doesn’t mean he or she is a snob or “unimportant.” People who are alone may be shyer than you.” Perhaps she is hidden under the fake palm tree, clutching a drink in her hands. Chances are, she is repeating those three statements (lies) at the beginning of this article. If you go over and introduce yourself to her, you may have a new best friend for life!
- Pretend you are a talk show host. Treat the person across from you as the most important guest of the evening. What questions (and answers) would your viewers or listeners want to have discussed? As a good host, make the conversation be about the guest, and not about you.
- When the other person begins to talk, listen. I believe that empathetic listening has three parts: 1) listen with your ears (obviously), but also 2) listen with your eyes, and 3) listen with your heart. Instead of planning your response, anxiously waiting for the other person’s lips to stop moving so that you can talk, take the time to be present with the other person.
Listen … Truly Listen
Best-selling author Stephen Covey asked, “Do we listen to understand? No! We listen to reply.” Let me relate the concept of empathetic listening to something I experienced recently. My wife took me into her garden to show off her phlox, mums or rhododendron. I’m not really sure because I am not into gardening. But I am into my relationship with my wife. So rather than thinking at the time about an upcoming presentation I was about to give, I needed to slow down and be in the moment with her.
Always take the time to truly be with the person with whom you are speaking. Do not constantly scan the room for somebody even “more important.”
How to Make Others Love (or Like) You
English journalist Jenni Murray talked about meeting former president Bill Clinton, “He made you feel for those few short moments that you were the only woman in the world and he’d never met anyone as interesting or as lovely as you.” Similarly, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis seemed to possess the ability to have men all over the world fall in love with her. Asked how she did it, the former First Lady replied, “Two ways. First of all, when a man would finish talking about himself and his work, I would say, ‘Tell me more!’”
(I can only imagine the nervous guy thinking to himself at this point, “Oh, nobody has ever asked me about quim-quat widgets before, but here goes …” We guys and our egos!)
Secondly, as the wife of a wealthy Greek shipping magnate, Jacqueline revealed, “I would hang on their eyes.”
Can you just imagine how powerful that effect must have been? Now, you may not want women or men all over the world to fall in love with you. You may only want to survive your next social gathering. However, you can adapt Mr. Clinton’s or Ms. Onassis’s strategies to help you achieve your goal.
F – O – R – D
If you tend to be an analytical type (and many shy people consider themselves to be), when you meet a new person, imagine the blue oval of the carmaker Ford emblazoned on her forehead. It will give you clues as to what you can talk about with your conversation partner.
The F stands for “Ask her about her family.” (Everybody has a family.)
The O references her occupation. That does not necessarily mean a paying job. My wife was a stay-at-home-mom, one of the most difficult jobs in the world. She was offended when somebody had the attitude, “Oh, you don’t really work!” So, occupation could even refer to a present vocation, for instance, a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity or some other charitable organization.
The R means relaxation. Ask her what she likes to do for fun!
And if you really feel you have hit it off with your new acquaintance, ask her about D, her dreams.
Don’t Try to Impress, Ask Questions Instead
Another successful networking strategy is to ask questions rather than attempting to impress another person by talking about yourself.
I was interviewing for my first job out of graduate school. The firm sent a new hire who was a recent graduate to interview prospective employees from his alma mater. When it was my turn to sit down with him, I asked him about his experiences in graduate school – about the professors, the fraternities and sororities. The interviewer was thoroughly enjoying himself regaling me with interesting stories. When it was finally my turn to launch into my sales pitch, the interviewer interrupted me by saying, “Ted, you are exactly the kind of person we want working at our firm!”
Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, said, “Everybody has an invisible sign hanging from their neck saying, ‘Make me feel important.’ Never forget this message when working with [or meeting] people.”
What To Do If You Struggle With Small Talk
I thought when I would attend a social event I would need to develop an elevator pitch or some other pithy story, so that when another person would hear it, they would be forced to take a step back and exclaim, “Wow, Ted! That is so profound! Let me hire you right now!”
It isn’t going to happen. So don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself, either. Simply engage in small talk.
“Small talk,” says author Michael Korda, “should intrigue, delight, amuse, fill up time pleasantly. Given that, anything will do, from dogs to delicatessens. The aim of small talk is to make people feel comfortable – to put them at their ease – not to teach, preach or impress.
It’s a game, like tennis, in which the object is to keep the ball in the air for as long as possible.”
Networking … the Right Way
We have all been to a Chamber of Commerce mixer or some similar networking event, at which one of the attendees does networking the wrong way. His goal is to meet everybody in the room and to get right down to what he wants to accomplish. He’ll run up to you and say, “Hi!” while thrusting his business card into your hand. “I’m John. I fix computers. If you ever need your computer fixed, call me.”
Before you even have a chance to respond, John will rush off to his next … victim.
“I learned that real networking was about finding ways to make other people more successful,’ says Keith Ferazzi, author of Never Eat Alone and Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time. “It was about working hard to give more than you get. Those who are best at it don’t network – they make friends. The only way to get people to do anything is to recognize their importance and make them feel important.”