We all know we are experiencing a crazy time in the world right now. Lately, I’ve been speaking to lots of owner-operators who are literally in a panic. Some have needed to put off staff, some are in a financial breakdown. Some are even questioning whether they can stay open at all. So many business owners are feeling like they’re going down with their business ship and what they need now more than ever, is to make sense of it all.
To make sense of where I am, I have been drawing back on my own previous life experience … and it reminds me of how I felt when I lost my late husband. April 27 is the anniversary of my wedding with him, and only one month later in 2014, he passed away. This time of uncertainty is reminding me of this period of my life because I felt devastated like I had lost everything. Similar to how you might be feeling right now.
“For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.” Vincent Van Gogh
One key thing about this time was that the things I considered certainties were put to the test, and I realised I don’t think you can ever be certain about anything, ever. This is a good thing, and you can step up to celebrate just how much benefit there is amidst the throes of uncertainty.
Establish why you do what you do:
The first area to address is your personal development; reflect again on why you do what you do. When things are uncertain and you’re feeling concerned or afraid, your real motivation will come out. When Alec died I had to find my motivations instead of sharing his, my world was changing, and I had to find a new place within it. This may feel uncomfortable, or even quite awful, yet this is where growth comes from. We are at our most resilient when we can look at ourselves in the mirror and know who we are. Tough times don’t last but tough people do. And we do that by being brutally honest with ourselves, and using every opportunity as one for growth, even amidst uncertainty.
Push you out of the nest:
Let’s be honest, most of us won’t push for change unless it first pushes itself upon us. I would never have found the opportunities and fresh starts that came after losing Alec if I wasn’t forced to step out of my comfort zone. This is true for all of us, and it is also true for you today. Now is the time that people are taking risks because they have to. When things are safe and comfortable, no one will take the sort of chances that you have to when you feel like your survival depends upon it. Opportunity comes amid uncertainty, this is your chance to expand and look at new moves. Now is the time to jump out of the nest and try some new things.
Invent something new:
That leads me to the third benefit of embracing uncertainty, which is inventing something new. Right now, necessity is the mother of invention, and adversity is the mother of innovation. Now is the time to be packaging up new offerings, try new methods, and practice learning the tools to develop new products. If I wasn’t pushed out of my comfort zone I would never have explored the other possibilities that waited for me. I learned that with new circumstances comes the need for new tools, new approaches, new products, and new markets. I did it then, and I’m doing it again now. This is where we all get to create and innovate, so make the most of it!
Find new personal capacity:
When we embrace uncertainty we get to understand our strengths, digging down during the stress of these uncertain times to discover a deeper personal capacity. I would never have believed that I could survive losing what felt like my whole world, but when Alec died I eventually realised I had not lost everything. I still had me. I had a new capacity to explore and new opportunities to stretch into. Learning this is hugely empowering, not only as business leaders but as humans. Regardless of our position every one of us is now finding out what we’re made of. It’s a great time to pull out our best, most resourceful responses.
Provide confidence for those around you:
And finally, amid uncertainty, we get to serve by providing confidence for those around us. On that horrible day, despite my grief, my staff relied on me, my customers still wanted to shop with me, my suppliers waited on me, and my children depended on me. The people in my circle looked to me to set the pace, they wanted to see how things would be moving forward. You too have family, friends, loved ones, customers, and communities relying on you. This is a really beautiful chance for you to dig deep and serve them. Serve them with the love, support and leadership that they’re needing right now. By stepping up and leading in this way, you will provide confidence for those who have had theirs shaken, and find it returned with enthusiasm.
I know this uncertainty may feel overwhelming, but it is also a great opportunity to connect with your people. You can settle yourself amidst all of this craziness and you can be the calm in the storm. Bring that encouragement. Bring that peace. Bring that positivity, and bring your creativity. Such times never last forever, so let this be a chance to bring out your best!