Three Keys for Getting Through Tough Times

Get Through Tough Times

In this time of the coronavirus crisis, many people are struggling to get through this difficult period.  I do my best to stay positive and optimistic, even when the chips are down.  In times like this, I fall back on a phrase from the famous master motivator and spiritual leader, Dr. Robert Schuller.  Schuller was celebrated for saying, “Tough times never last, but tough people do.”  As I reflect on some of the tough times I have gotten through, both in my personal life and during my military career, I would like to share three keys that I believe are important for navigating challenging periods in our life.

Understand Your Purpose

Purpose is everything. It is foundational. Without a purpose, any person or organization will flounder. During a crisis, if you do not understand your purpose, you will be like a rudderless ship in a storm. To successfully maneuver through the coronavirus crisis, you must be clear on what your purpose is.  It might be to sustain your business. Perhaps it is to lead and set a good example for your family.  It could be to assist others in your community. Maybe it is to do what you could to set conditions so when we turn the corner and life begins to get back to normal, you could hit the ground running.

It is important to not only identify “purpose” for yourself but to ensure those you lead understand their purpose too as it relates to the family unit, organization, or whatever team you all are part of.  When those on your team understand the organization’s purpose, you could then inspire them to fight through the challenge because something bigger than themselves is at stake.

Keep an Offensive Mindset

Napoleon was renowned for his aggressiveness and his bold nature. Having an offensive spirit, he was celebrated for preaching audacity, audacity, always audacity.  One of my favorite sayings is, “leaders dispel uncertainty through action.” Another is “when in doubt, attack.”   The point is that initiative beats indecisiveness and proactive deeds beat inaction 99% of the time. The important thing to do now during this time of uncertainty is to take positive steps to move in a forward direction.  I am not talking about doing something completely out of character or fraught with risk.  I am simply talking about taking advantage of the time and improving something in your life. To give you an example, a couple of weeks ago, I had many business and work opportunities get canceled. Instead of getting all upset and doing nothing, I decided to do something productive with my spare time.  I engaged in a project that created a great deal of value for others.  Do not wait for opportunity to knock; instead, knock that door down. Demonstrate initiative and maintain that offensive spirit.

Identify Your Daily Successes

To paraphrase Charles Dickens, do not focus on your hardships, of which we all have some; instead, focus on your blessings of which we all have many.  Similarly, if you spend time counting your blessings, you will lose count of your struggles.  Take account of the wins and the success you achieve daily or weekly. The successes you count do not have to be dramatic. They could be modest and simple, but they should still be counted.  For example, success might be finishing a book you have been meaning to read. Maybe, it is learning a new word every day and then using it in a sentence. Maybe it is learning how to pronounce five new words in a foreign language. It could be teaching your daughter to use a power tool or teaching your son how to bake a cake.  All those things add up to points on our scoreboard and those points eventually become a tally in the win column for us.

Pragmatic optimism

While I believe we must remain optimistic, I also believe we must look at our current situation pragmatically and not discount our challenges by wearing rose-colored glasses. We must remain socially responsible. We must take responsibility to help ourselves while at the same time assisting others who cannot help themselves. Success will not occur if we do nothing or wait for something to happen. To ensure we achieve success we must set goals, establish an action plan to achieve those goals, and then follow through

Hang tough and keep in mind these keys to getting through difficult times. Identify your overarching purpose and understand there is something larger than yourself at stake. Demonstrate initiative and an offensive mindset. Celebrate the small wins in your life.  These are great ways to move forward and ensure that when the storm blows over you will emerge stronger than ever. After all, tough times never last, but tough people do.

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