Have you ever made plans, just to have the weather, or some other situation, turn your best ideas inside out? While spending the day with my aunt, we had plans — including the farmers market and a nice long walk in the park, after all the sun had been shining for hours. But things change.
The sunshine gave way to a heavy rain and we chose to spend those 60 minutes sitting outside the farmer’s market under their cover — people watching and snacking on our groceries. The interesting thing is almost 50 shoppers had the same idea. It’s funny how rain slows things down, changes things up.
In business, rainy days can come in the form of loosing long term clients or contracts, loosing key team members, facing drastic industry shifts or seriously altered spending of your core client base. It doesn’t feel good. But the rainy days — the challenges — are a part of the small business package.
How do you handle the problems?
I read years ago, I can’t quite remember where I heard it, that you should never call a problem a problem. You should call it a challenge instead. The point was to quit looking at the situation as something that was unwelcomed and to begin to see it as something that you could solve, that you and your team could find your way around, to see it as something to make you better.
So for the next year and a half I wouldn’t allow my team to use the word problem. Until one of them said:
“But if this really is a problem and I intend to solve it, then why do I have to call it another name.”
And I said:
“If you solve the issue, then you can call it whatever you want.”
Whether you call it a problem, puzzle, challenge, issue, concern or crack in your department, it’s solvable. The goal is to create a solution based mindset inside each team member. You want them looking for answers — and not just you. Since your team will have a tendency to reflect your behavior and your leadership style, then make sure that you are solution oriented too.
There Are At Least 3 Kinds Of Leaders
1.) The ones who wait for the issue to pass. They don’t think it will be a real problem for too long and will right itself soon enough.
2.) The ones who dive in head first. They are not afraid of much and tend to grab the bull by the horn.
3.) The ones who see the bull coming months and years in advance and choose to make the change ahead of time. They still have to deal with the rain, but they’re prepared.
You may have been all three at different points in your career. There are some situations that do “fix themselves,” but not many. There are some situations that “show up so fast” you don’t have time to react ahead of time, but not all. And there are some situations, more than you want to admit, that you can prepare for.
But before you start barking out orders to your team, let’s look at one core area of concern and two personal steps to take first.
What’s your mindset?
Your thoughts determine your experience regardless of the situation. Mental disaster recovery has a lot to do with the mindset you have before you face the problem. So here are two steps to make right now.
1.) Expect the Best, Plan for the Worst
When things are going good, you’re not trying to be neurotic, constantly panicking about what can go wrong tomorrow. You’re enjoying the season, but also looking for the holes in your business. It’s easier to plug them on dry land than in the middle of the lake.
Make disaster planning an ongoing part of your business. Store up resources for rainy days, that includes supplies and service contractors. Remember, you want options because it gives you sure legs on shaky ground.
2.) Study the Mistakes of Others
Find the people in and out of your industry that you respect and admire. Study how they recovered from failures.
When success comes to others we tend to act like it was an easy, overnight process, but very few worthwhile things are overnight successes. Consistent and focused effort always comes before a lasting breakthrough.
Train your mind to notice the process. When you realize that you are not the only one who has to go through some valleys to get to the top of something, you’ll begin to use the momentum of your life as well as other people’s stories to keep yourself going.
Rain always comes, and we often act surprised, depressed or irritated. But if you train for this (get mentally and physically prepared ahead of time), then you can pull out your weather shoes, raincoat, umbrella and walk through it.
Not easy, but necessary.
Navigating Disaster Photo via Shutterstock