We don’t get to choose what we go through in life and what we are experiencing right now is the biggest case in point in our lifetimes.
The ultimate choice is how we go through it. Even if you’re heard or read it before–as you likely have–it is no less true.
Truth doesn’t expire but we often we need to be reminded of it. So here’s the big point:
We often don’t get to choose what we go through in life but we do get to choose how we go through it.
But what does it really mean? What would a successful choice about how to go through this challenge, any challenge, look like?
Let’s start with the problem of worry. There is a difference between worry and concern. Worry is a negative emotion that changes nothing except one’s mental well being. It focuses on how you feel about the problem.
Concern is a strategic and well informed consideration of what’s going on and what you can and can’t do to affect it. Concern focuses on what you do about the problem.
To respond well to crisis, move from worry to concern. Then take informed action.
While it is difficult to maintain a positive attitude in the face of great concern and suffering, it is good to remember that the opposite of a negative attitude is actually gratitude. Rarely are things so bad that you can’t find something to be thankful for. I’ve consistently used the “three good things” technique and recounted what those three things were that happened during the day as I retire for the night. Some days it takes a little longer to find them, but I’ve never been unable to identify at least three.
One of the biggest dangers of crisis or trouble is self-absorption. It is natural to focus on our wants and needs. If we don’t who will? So how do we prevent an unhealthy preoccupation with ourselves and our needs?
The answer: focus on how you can help others meet their needs? Service small and large is the antidote to self-absorption.
This situation is a historic first. There is precedent about dealing with crisis, but not much about dealing with this kind of crisis. You and I are in the ultimate learning lab. Pay attention, note and write down what you learn as you go along. You can be exposed to a lesson and not learn it. Truly learning is remembering and using the lesson.
Relationships need even more care during times of crisis. With new found time due to restrictions of movement, what are you doing to nurture the important relationships of your life?
While you might not be able to operate your business right now, you can think about your business. You can strategize, prioritize and likely recalibrate based on what the future looks like.
How will you stay healthy? Could you divert time spent away to improving both your physical fitness and diet? Many Americans are sleep deprived. Now is the opportunity and more and better sleep. If you aren’t healthy, you’ll have neither the physical nor emotional energy to respond well.
An important tool for both good times and bad is a sense of humor. I believe God gave us a sense of humor because he knew there would be problems we couldn’t solve. In the midst of our greatest challenges friends have shared humor that has resulted in some of my best laughter. You can do the same.
Finally, understanding this truth means helping others to understand and use it as well, whether family, friends or employees. To help others choose better how to go through the struggles of the day, share P.I.E.
Purpose. Overcoming our current problems in a means to an end, and that is to fulfill our larger purpose, both individually and organizationally. Fleetwood Mac sang “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow,” and tomorrow isn’t just a better day, but why we keep up the fight. What is your purpose? Help others find their’s.
Ideas. Crisis accelerates learning. Pay attention to what you are learning. Seek out the best information, ready more deeply and study more intently. Then share the best of you insights with others so they can benefit from them, too.
Encouragement. Fuel others with a kind word or affirmation. Reassure someone of his or her abilities. There is no downside to encouraging others, and some need it more desperately than others.
We didn’t choose this pandemic and the plethora of related challenges, but we can choose how we go through it. That is the ultimate choice.
Mark Sanborn is an award winning speaker and Leadership Expert in Residence at High Point University, the Premier Life Skills University. For more information about his work, visit www.marksanborn.com.
He also teaches professional speakers and leaders how to increase their messaging and public speaking effectiveness. Learn more here.