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"Ships don't sink because of the water around them; ships sink because of the water that gets in them. Don't let what's happening around you get inside you and weigh you down." -Unknown.

There are two distinct camps of people that I am engaging with at the moment in my capacity as a business and executive coach… those that are starting to sink, and those that are managing to stay afloat. Those that have let the negativity and challenges get to them, and those that have managed to stay positive and find ways to get through this. Those that have allowed blame, excuses or denial to turn them into victims, and those that have taken ownership and responsibility to control what they can. 

There are 2 key factors to consider to ensure that you maintain control in turbulent times: Reaction and Action. 

Some things are out of your control, but how you react to them is 100% within your control. You are constantly exposed to thoughts and ideas that your mind reacts to. Your mind picks the ones that have a larger impact, positive or negative, and starts working on them until it receives something more impactful to replace them with. This is the challenge, but also the opportunity. 

If you can tune out the negativity, choose which thoughts to dwell on, and which to discard, you will react better. If you can’t control your mind, you can’t control your life, and certainly not your business. 

Be accepting of the negative situations, reduce your expectations, and replace the negative thoughts with something positive. There’s nothing you can do about what’s happened. Tell yourself, “That sucks… now what can we do to reduce the negative impact?” 

This leads to the second factor… action. 

External stimuli 
So, if our minds react to what we are exposed to, it stands to reason that the first action to take is to choose what you expose yourself to. As I have said many times before, surround yourself with positive people who help you process the negativity, find solutions and make you feel better.  
Similarly, choose what you read more carefully, and limit your intake of news, social media and political commentary. Bad news sells. Controversy gets everyone up in arms. Find objective sources of information that keep you up to date with the facts without inciting anger or anxiety. In addition, you need to balance your news intake with positive messages. For example, follow #Imstaying on Facebook, subscribe to There’s plenty of good news and warm messages out there to give you a balanced perspective. 

Sometimes it’s what you choose to see, choose to believe and choose to focus on that makes the difference. 

Look after yourself 
If Covid doesn’t kill you, stress will. Therefore, you need to do whatever it takes to destress. Meditation, exercise, eating healthily, sleeping. Arrange things to look forward to with your family… a hike, movie night at home, a cooking competition, make a tree house with your kids. Make sure you do something everyday that makes you happy. Whether it’s listening to music while you work at home, making your favourite meal, enjoying a long bubble bath, having sex, reading a book with a hot cup of tea. In other words, whatever “floats your boat” and releases feel-good endorphins. 

Make a plan 
Another one of my hobby horses… Having a plan puts you in control and creates focus to take action and do something about the status quo. Now is not the time for stretch goals. Scrap your old plan and make a new one. The circumstances are different, the goals are different, so we need a different plan. Go back to basics… revise your goals to make them shorter, more realistic and achievable. For some, the goal is simply to stay afloat until you are able to hoist your sails again. And that’s ok. 

Remember, it could be worse. Often, when we think of what other people are going through, we realise that our troubles and challenges are not so bad after all. As difficult as things may be, there are many things to be grateful for, and we need to remind ourselves of this every day. Make a conscious choice to be grateful by implementing rituals. For example, my sister has a gratitude diary. Start your weekly team meeting with a quick whip around of what each person is grateful for. You’ll be amazed at how uplifting gratitude can be. 

A positive mantra 
Negative spirals always start with a negative thought, not a negative action – if you can nip the negative thought in the bud, you will not sink into the the spiral. Find a positive mantra that you repeat to yourself whenever things get you down… “I’ve built a business before, I can do it again”, “My strength is greater than my struggles”, or as my son likes to quote from How I Met Your Mother… “Challenge accepted!” 

Despite the Covid storm and the destruction it’s causing, it’s possible to stay afloat if you keep your ship watertight. Whether you feel like you are drowning, your ship’s going down, or if you are ready to set sail to new horizons, I’m ready to be part of your crew. We’ll all get through this. Together. 

Have a wonderful, relaxed weekend.


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To celebrate Mandela Day, we look at what made Nelson Mandela who he was. It wasn't his technical skills, his cognitive ability or his IQ. It was his EQ that made his who he is. Read more
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Greg Mason   
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