We’ve faced some uncertain times over the past few years. From COVID-19 and material shortages to economic shifts and top-level elections (that may or may not have gone how we wanted).
Whatever the case, as a business owner and leader, I’m sure that you’ve felt the impact in some way or another over the last few years.
For some of you, it’s actually been beneficial. However, for many of you, there have been some tough times and lean moments. We may have even asked ourselves if we should close the business for good. It can cause a lot of fear and anxiety.
Here’s the deal: each of us has a calling. Even in uncertain times, we have confidence that the Creator of the World has a plan for each and every one of us. That our HOPE is in Him and not in the economy, the latest business plan, or even a particular leader.
I want to share with you 5 things that I do to remind myself how to keep going, even when the future is uncertain.
- Trusting God
As many of you know, I’m a follower of Jesus Christ. That basis helps me stay grounded in knowing that God, our Creator, is in control. He has a plan and even in the times where I’m most uncertain of what is going to happen, I know He does. Just as He spoke to Jeremiah, I believe that He wants to give me a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
I believe that He has my best interests at heart and that He wants to see me succeed, not for my glory, but His. That is the first (and arguably the most important) thing that keeps me grounded during uncertain times.
- Battling Fear With Quality Perspective
I would be lying if I didn’t say that during some of these crazy times, I felt some fear come upon me. That’s when I use the tools to battle fear that we teach our clients.
It can be easy to not only be afraid but have that fear become such a part of your situation that you can’t actually move forward. We have a saying around here, “when you freak, you freeze!” These uncertain times can bring about such fearfulness. We see it in our friends, our family, and other peers. On top of that, we see the media perpetuate the fear and continue to feed that in our lives.
However, we have to stop being afraid! How? By asking great perspective-gaining questions. When we feel fear start to creep in, stop and ask yourself, “Why am I feeling this way?” Even facing the fear by asking, “What’s the real worst-case scenario?” can be freeing as you realize that we make things a lot worse in our own heads than what really can happen. Just stopping to ask questions, assess the situation, and realize the truth can help us battle the fear and freezing.
- Putting Money Aside
One of the greatest things we can do to combat uncertain times is to be prepared financially. I think a lot of businesses had a pretty good 2019. I have a feeling that many business owners wished they had put back a little more retained earnings to handle what happened in 2020.
You see, when you have money set aside to handle the expenses and the unknowns, you can approach those challenges with much more confidence. You can be prepared for truly uncertain moments (or longer periods of time).
You can actually walk into a tough situation and make adjustments to take care of the business and your team without sacrificing a lot. But it’s hard to do this. You have to be intentional and proactive, so that when you have those uncertain times, you can make it through to the other side.
- Operating with Excellence ALL the Time
It’s easy, when things are going well, to let things slide; to let people not give their full effort; to let the business coast on its laurels and accomplishments. However, the moment something challenging hits, it can be really difficult to get people to buckle down and shift the business into a culture of excellence when it wasn’t there before.
You see, it’s important to be excellent in both the good times as well as the difficult times. This mindset helps our team continue to thrive and grow, whether things are going really well or not. Striving for excellence is something that every team member from the top to the bottom should be going after all the time. And if we are excellent during the good times, that only sets us up to be excellent during those tough times when we have no other choice.
- Communicating Openly With Your Team
Our teams are not stupid. When things go bad, they know it. They see it. They experience it. But, so often as leaders, we don’t talk about it. We don’t want to bring attention to the difficulty in hopes that they aren’t actually seeing the issues. But in reality, when there is uncertainty around them, they know it.
Worse off, when we don’t communicate with them about the uncertainty, then they can easily find themselves thinking inaccurate or incomplete things. For instance, if there is uncertainty and we aren’t talking about it, our team could be assuming (incorrectly, I might add) that the ship is sinking, or that someone has been fired, or that their job is in jeopardy.
In almost all cases, if you’ve done the things that I talked about above, then this shouldn’t even be an issue. But, if we aren’t communicating with the team, all they could be experiencing is the negative side-effects of the uncertainty we are facing. We must communicate and share openly with our team.
We must gain perspective from them on what they are seeing, feeling, and experiencing. We must be willing to share some hard truths, but trusting that it will build our culture and team as we battle together through whatever the challenge is we face. If we don’t communicate, then we can’t expect our team to truly understand what is going on around them.
So here’s the point I’m trying to make: uncertain times are going to happen. It may be this week, this year, or in five years from now. If we aren’t prepared for those times, if we haven’t done the things that set us up for success even in the midst of those challenges, then we can find ourselves in a very negative place.
We can find our business struggling to survive, our team struggling to push through, our customers moving on to someone else. We have to be prepared to face those uncertainties when they arise. That is what will set us (and our team and business) up for success and will help us get through to the other side.