A month ago, the premise of a global pandemic requiring all of us to stay at home indefinitely would have sounded like a far-fetched plotline for a political drama.
And yet this our current reality. We are all trying to make the best of the situation, but in certain moments our ability to cope seems nearly drowned out by the stomach-dropping realization that we don’t know when this will end.
For business owners, the mandate to “shelter in place” feels particularly heavy. This is directly affecting your livelihood. Whether you’re trying to adjust to working remotely while watching your clients push pause on the projects you had lined up or trying to figure out how to lay off your employees and closing your doors right as you were expecting business to pick up, this totally sucks.
As things shift from shock-and-survival mode to hunker-down-and-wait mode, we’re all wondering how to recover from this. What does it look like to be resilient when the carefully laid out plans no longer apply?
The concept of resilience has been on my mind a lot lately. I wanted to offer some mindset shifts that have been helpful for me as I try to take one day at a time.
Resilience starts with empathy.
The opportunity hidden in the crisis of a global pandemic is that we’re all in this together. We are all trying to navigate this and reacting in our own unique ways. Even while we are being asked to distance ourselves, moments of “me too” connect us and release much-needed oxytocin in our brains.
When empathy is the foundation for our decision-making process, we are able to shift away from the knee-jerk response of blaming and shaming, or the impulse to hoard and withhold. Marketing and sending messages of sincere empathy and “we’ll get through this together” helps us to stay connected with our audience in a way that will strengthen our businesses down the road.
Resilience is fueled by gratitude.
It’s hard not to feel a sense of scarcity when we see rows of empty shelves or a sudden halt to our cash flow. Our survival instincts ramp up and we go into a downward spiral of fear and worst-case scenarios. Scarcity mindsets keep us paralyzed and stuck, unable to collaborate in the networks we need to thrive.
The best remedy I’ve found to quiet the voices of scarcity is gratitude. It feels simplistic and a bit sentimental, but the daily habit of writing down things you are thankful for can transform your whole world. Taking intentional steps to bring messages of gratitude to your audience and to the people on the front lines not only helps other people feel encouraged, but it conveys a feeling of abundance others will be drawn to, now and in the months to come.
Resilience requires creativity.
Have you ever driven past a field that has been burned? Right after, everything is scorched and barren. All evidence of what was previously completely gone. But it doesn’t take long for life to pop back up. Intrepid shoots of grass pop up through the blackened earth. Shrubs spring up next. In the heat of the fire, trees know to release their seeds, planting their hope even in the midst of everything going up in smoke.
In reality—things grow back stronger than ever after a fire. But the resilience of nature requires tenacity and the ability to change with the unexpected. Right now, it feels like our whole earth is up in flames, our economy scorched beyond what we had imagined possible. But we have the opportunity to come back even stronger. It will require us to be creative, to think outside the box. But that innovation will make our businesses even better.
You might still be in survival mode. You might need to take a day (or a week) to just rest and get back to feeling like yourself. We don’t know how long all of this will play out, but in taking each day at a time, I encourage you to practice empathy for those you are interacting with. I urge you to be on the lookout for moments of surprise and delight and to practice gratitude. And I encourage you to find ways to think creatively about how to keep connecting with your clients and finding innovative ways to grow your business.
Check out my COVID Crisis Business Action Plan Template, a comprehensive guide to help you think through contingency plans and a proactive strategy for your business.
For a dose of empathy: A word of encouragement from Brené Brown.
For a fresh breath of gratitude: Some beautiful reminders from one of my favorite artists, Morgan Harper Nichols
For a spark of creativity: A free creativity masterclass from the lovely Liz Gilbert.
A compilation of financial help resources available for small businesses.