The Power of Unscheduled Opportunities
The Power of Unscheduled Opportunities
"We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations."
Let's face it, many of us are struggling with a certain amount of fear right now and what may look like an impossible situation. We may be expressing our fear outwardly or it may be lurching around in our subconscious ready to pounce at any moment. But some people let themselves become crippled by fear...unable to think clearly, take action, move forward or find comfort. If you are going to lead your team through challenges, you must first lead yourself.
This could be a once in a lifetime unscheduled opportunity to share the gift of presence with our family, recalibrate, navigate and innovate through change, and reset our well-being, direction and purpose in business and life. This could be the perfect opportunity to rise to a new level of greatness. This is the time to focus on what matters and rediscover what is most important to us. Perhaps this forced "time-out" is exactly what we need!
Challenging times require rethinking old ways, reframing our thoughts and actions and setting ourselves up for long-term success. Many are being provided an opportunity to hit the reset button of our life and organization, slow down and focus on what matters most so that we can achieve sustainable success doing work that we love and increase our joy during the process.
In some ways, this is a gift that we would never have taken if we weren't forced to. Let's make the most of it!
With the economy falling at a rapid pace, some grocery store shelves bare, and uncertainty about the future of our health and finances, it is easy to become fearful. But fear cripples. It paralyzes our thoughts and actions. It negatively impacts how we respond and our ability to overcome. We can't let fear settle in and find comfort in our thinking. We must overcome, shift our thinking and rise through it. When fear sets in, we fall into the fight or flight mode. I love this quote by Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor:
"Between a stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. The last of human freedoms is to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances."
The great news is that we have the power within us to choose how to respond and how we respond will determine our outcome in the short run and the long run. Here are a few strategies and practices that will help you not only survive this storm, but thrive through it and rise stronger than you were before. Strategies to help you reconnect to your greater purpose and potential impact as a leader, business owner and individual. This is the time to build a strong personal and business foundation that will lead you to your brightest future yet.
1. Be an optimist and a realist and focus on both the present and the future: I begin with this quote by Admiral Stockdale as stated by Jim Collins in the book, "Good to Great."
“ This is what I learned from those years in the prison camp, where all those constraints just were oppressive. You must never, ever, ever confuse, on the one hand, the need for absolute, unwavering faith that you can prevail despite those constraints with, on the other hand, the need for the discipline to begin by confronting the brutal facts, whatever they are.”
You need to run in both lanes simultaneously – the optimistic lane that everything will be better than ever in due time, you will reach your new goals, and you will overcome the challenges. At the same time, you want to be a realist and look at what you need to do right now to survive. To look at the situation with optimism and realism will help you to overcome current challenges and set you up for long-term success.
You need to take actions that are both present focused and future focused. When you focus on present circumstances, you are preparing yourself to get through the short-term, the next two weeks, month, or ninety days. Create a plan of action around what you need for the short-term.
In the same way, focus on the future. This may be the time to innovate in your business, renew your purpose and vision and set yourself up for success when circumstances change for the better. Or perhaps this is a time where you continue working your long-term strategy – continue working on the projects that are relevant and provide your organization with future success. Many organizations will need to both innovate and continue with current projects at the same time.
2. Cultivate an inner peace: There is no better time than right now to cultivate inner peace despite the circumstances around you. The world may seem to be crashing, but when you have inner peace, you are able to maintain a sense of calm even during a storm. Inner peace is a state of being mentally and spiritually at peace even in the face of discord or stress. I came up with this quote a couple years ago which is certainly relevant now, "Inner peace won't give you the perfect life, but will help you through an imperfect one."
Having an inner peace will help you through any crises. It will help you to know that blue skies are right behind those storm clouds. I am fortunate that I went through my own storms a few years ago and it was through that period where I developed my own inner peace. Here are a few tips to help you cultivate greater inner peace:
- Deepen your faith in a higher power. Faith in a higher power and divine intelligence will give you a sense of calm no matter what your circumstances are in life.My own faith provides the peace, strength and hope that I need even during the most difficult storms of life.
- Practice mindfulness daily. Mindfulness is a greater awareness of the present moment. Taking in the beauty of nature, time spent with our family, the situation we are in and deeply appreciating it. Mindfulness helps us to appreciate circumstances that are less than ideal. Practicing mindfulness will help you to see the positive in challenging situations.
- One way to cultivate this mindfulness is through the practice of daily gratitude. Each morning, write three things that you are grateful for and let them sink in. Don't make this another task, but rather a meaningful practice. At the end of the day, do the same thing and go to bed with a sense of deep gratitude as well.
- Practice compassion and kindness and strengthen relationships with family, friends and team members. Relationships are the heart of success. Social research studies show that positive relationships promote strength, resilience and happiness. This is the perfect time to connect with others on a deeper level. Serve others with an open heart and be there for them when they need it. Giving increases your positive emotions and optimism and promotes inner peace.
- Connect to your inner wisdom. There is learned wisdom and inner wisdom. Our inner wisdom is that gut feeling, inner knowing, an instinct that we know what we need to know. Wisdom is discernment. It is the ability to know what you really want and need. Trust yourself and start cultivating a deeper inner wisdom.
"Repeated patterns of mental activity require repeated patterns of brain activity. Repeated patterns of brain activity change neural structure and function." -Dr. Rick Hanson
In other words, you become what you think. This is absolute truth. The great news is that we can reframe a negative mindset into a positive one.
It's critical to set ourselves up with a success mindset. Look back over your past experiences and pull out those times that you conquered a big goal, made it through a tough time and thrived through a big challenge. Then prepare a statement that summarizes your thought. Perhaps your statement is, "I have been through tough times before and always find a way," or "I thrive through challenges." Whatever your true statement is, write that down and post it somewhere where you can look at it every day. Remind yourself that you have what it takes to not only survive, but thrive.
Practice daily declarations of where you want to go and who you want to become. What thoughts do you need to reframe? Are you lacking confidence? Tell yourself, "I am confident, I am valuable, I am more than enough!" Then read them every day with emphasis. This is not the time to be shy - make your declarations bold! You are setting yourself up for future success.
4. Develop your resilience RX and reboot your well-being: I am lucky that I already have mine, but it took going through my own storm to develop this. Many people have been too busy or never thought they had time (that was me before). But there is nothing more important than your own well-being. You can't have true success without well-being in your life.
Many now find themselves forced to slow down at their jobs and this is the perfect opportunity (in fact, necessity) to build your resilience prescription for life. You may add to this and adjust it as time goes on, but you must START to make an impact. I have a daily practice that includes the following: walk/exercise, devotional, gratitude, journal, mindfulness and meditation. Don’t expect to be perfect, but the important thing is to have a practice that is as regular as possible. The more regular it is, the more you will benefit. If this is a new practice to you, start slow. Start with bringing in one new practice at a time until it is a habit.
5. Focus on truth and what matters most: This is the time to focus on facts and not live in a world of uncertainties and "what ifs." Uncertainties will overwhelm you and cause you to burn energy around things that are not important now. Focus on truth and facts and let uncertainties go.
This is also the time to lean into what matters most. Let go of distractions and anything that pulls you in a direction that is not conducive to your long-term success. Focus on what matters most with your family and your organization. Prioritize and let your light become a laser that will reach farther than ever before.
6. Be open to new opportunities: This is allowing a greater awareness to new opportunities You don't need to look for them, but be open for them. Notice what is happening around you and pay attention to those "insights" that come to you. Perhaps there is more to them.
7. Let love lead the way: Love is an expansive intelligence - it opens doors of creativity, inspires vision, strengthens values, excites imagination and expands possibilities. Love is the greatest power and when we let love lead the way, we are moving forward with our hearts and what is most important to us.
Love will lead you to sustainable success, help you to lead your team through challenges, help you to expand possibilities and reach a higher level of success. Love inspires success and helps evolve men and women into great leaders. This is the most important practice of all. Without love, there will be no joy in your work.;
"Love broadens vision, love enables creativity, and love expands intelligence." -Humberto Maturana
8. Move forward with confidence and a positive energy: Know that you are exactly where you're supposed to be and perhaps this is a new beginning of something much greater. Keep your energy positive and watch doors of opportunities unfold as a leader, business owner, during transitions and in life in general.
Finally, ask yourself these three questions to help you navigate change successfully:
- How can I be the constant through dynamic change?
- What needs to remain constant through the changes?
- How can my (our) values remain constant during this change?
Wishing you an abundance of health, strength, peace and success.
Cindy Legg, a purpose-centered leadership coach and trainer, has a passion to help people live and lead with purpose, embrace joy and achieve high-impact without sacrificing what is important to them. She works with leaders and business owners to discover their greater purpose and take their team and organization higher. She loves working with individuals pivoting to a new level of greatness.