002 Series 1 of 3 How to Handle Extremely Tough Times Series – Introduction

By Tom Birchall | Podcast

Jun 30


Episode Highlights:

This episode is the launch of a 3 part series on how to handle extremely tough times. It is in light of the Covid-19 pandemic that has hit our world.

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Episode Transcript:

Today we're talking about extreme measures when extreme things happen in life, in business when the ground shifts. When the world changes. What do you do then? What then?

We're talking about some good things today. What happens in extremely diverse situations and circumstances and tough times, and we are in seasons of that here and there. I want to share with you some of the best that I've got to navigating those tough times. Those extremely tough times. We're not talking about, oh, gee, I got a flat tire the other day or, well, I had an awkward conversation with my spouse, or a fight with my spouse, or a really intense discussion with someone at work. We are talking about bigger things than that.

I know, one entrepreneur years ago, that was heavily in debt. And that is an understatement. To the tune of 10s of millions of dollars. They're a real estate investor, and the banks due to economic times, it's one of those things that you don't see coming. This is what I'm talking about. With this individual. They were heavily leveraged at the bank, which some of you may understand or completely think is terrible, but as a real estate investor, it's part of the process.

And what you don't see coming is economic conditions completely changing and all the banks simultaneously, within a few weeks and few months of each other all calling their loans. Like that's just a really extreme circumstance. And one of those things you just don't see coming and properly invested things leveraged appropriately, etc. So, these extreme things that when they occur, we get scared, there's panic, there's stress, anxiety and a lot of emotions that go on inside us because the world just changed. Right? The world changed, and how do you cope with that? And that's what I want to talk about today.

Well, the first thing I want to bring up number one, is ask a different question. Ask the "what" question. Not the "why" question, but the "what" question. When the ground has shifted. When the world has changed, like it's happened. And our curious minds want to fill in the blank of gee like, why did that happen? And that's typically the question we ask. As a matter of fact, it's the first question we ask when we are little kids, and we learn how to talk speak. We say: why? If you've had kids, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

I’ve got two boys. They're older now of course and in younger days when they first started talking, why daddy why? Why are fire engines red? Why is the sky blue? Well, okay, let's dig into that. The curious mind of a child is where we start and our minds just like to ask why. And it doesn't stop. As we learn and gather more information. Our simple questions as children haven't stopped, we just start asking bigger questions. We have bigger curiosities and bigger questions and bigger things that occupy our minds that we want to know, and learn and understand.

And that can be challenging with the wrong question, it's the wrong direction to go. Why was there an earthquake? Why did the markets fall? Why like when these bigger things happen, that are earth changing the earth moves, it like the ground moves. Understanding why is important, but obsessing on it doesn't do any good. And what I'm suggesting here is to change the question from why to what. What are what are we going to do now?

Because your ability to control what just happened often in many circumstances you have no control over that. You don't have any ability to influence and change things back. Know what I mean, it just is. So we ask the why question that leads us down a road of a dead end street and I want to lead you down a road of open highway. An open highway gets into asking the question of what now? What are we going to do now? What am I going to do now, given the circumstances. Get into problem solving. Get into creating solutions. Start creating solutions for yourself. Build a framework.

I’m a systems guy, as you know, if you have been listening to the program for a while, with a systems background and advanced honors psychology and I like applying these things to figuring out and solving things and making success simple. And here's a simple little hack when inevitable things happen, undesirable things happen, and what we're talking about today is extreme things happening.

And it's changing the question away from Why did this happen? Which leads to a dead end street and I'll say the word victim, because you can't change anything. But move immediately to: What am I going to do now? What are you going to do now? And create a system and a framework for yourself, of options. Start creating options. "I could do this or I could do that". "Well, you know if I got a little bit of this here, a little bit of that there, we got option three now." Okay, good. Now I'm on option four. Now I'm on options 7, 8, 9 and 10. Awesome. Create options for yourself by asking the question: What, instead of Why?

What am I going to do now? That's the key question to ask when something unexpected shows up. This applies to to the simple things in life. We're talking about extreme stuff, but even simple things. For example, you are at a coffee shop and someone that you're going to meet doesn't show up. Sure you're curious why. You could sit there and be frustrated with the time wasted that you drove down there and that you were on time that you were prepared. You spent the 20 minutes beforehand, preparing and then the 20 minutes to drive there and now you're sitting there and they cancel. Wow! Your mindset could go into frustration and anger and blame and whatever else or you could flip the question you're asking yourself... not why did this happen... but move right into what am I going to do now?

I've been in that situation and what I do to prepare for it is I always when I go to meetings, I bring extra reading, I'll bring a project file, I've got work that I can do, because if that happens, I don't spend a second on it. As a matter of fact, I'm probably working on that project waiting for them to show up. And if they don't, I'm grateful for the quiet time that I just had for the past 10 minutes, 20 minutes, hour, whatever. And I'll meet with them as scheduled. While I'm being productive. Immediately, I just carry on with what I'm doing. Reading, working on my project, writing copy, doing research, whatever it might be. I always have something with me so that that's never a challenge. I'm not being unproductive. So it's not a waste of time. Change the question from the curious and easy amateur question of why into a more Pro, proactive, professional entrepreneurial mindset of what am I going to do now?

Number two, is gain these three things as part of your character, your beingness of how you approach and handle and your mental approach, your mental attitude, your mindset toward the situation.

It is to be: flexible, resilient, and adaptable. Be flexible, resilient, and adaptable. Let's pause on each of these. Be flexible. So in that coffee situation that I was talking about earlier when someone does not show up, that's a small thing. I'm flexible there, I'm like cool. No big deal. Next! Oh, right, I've got my project work with me. I've got my reading. I've got my research that I'm doing. Boom. Boom. Boom. I'm just shifting gears immediately into what I need to do. I drop and let go of the negative stuff, the roads I could travel down in my brain. I'm flexible and cool, this is fine. When extreme things happen: flexibility. When the ground moves, when it's that big of a thing, flexibility is really important. Because life as you knew it just changed.

Being flexible and adaptable, and resiliency, I wrote down "be resilient". And that will... actually what does that mean? The deeper words behind that or what to fill in those blanks is being: adaptable. When there's a new order. Like, when when the world has changed and there's like a new framework for life, being adaptable to that is really key versus stuck in your old ways. So you're gonna get like washed down the river with the change that just flew by? That is not good. That is not productive. That's not helpful. That's just gonna harm, bring harm to you.

An image for me comes by as I just described that of are you going to get washed out. A number of years ago in the city that I'm in Calgary here, there was a flood. A big flood. The city is built on the banks, on the side of the Bow river and it flooded. I remember watching videos of literally homes floating down the river. So the river banks had been eroded away so much so that an entire house, a two story home was floating down the river. I mean, talk about the ground and the earth literally moving and shifting and creating a new reality. That is an example an illustration of that to a tee.

Quite literally a house floating down a river. Things in your life may seem epic like that, and may not be quite that literal, or quite possibly they are. And that's what we're talking about here is the situation where we are dealing with extreme things that show up, being resilient in the face of that is really important.

Because when those circumstances hit and show up, and you fall apart, wow, where's your leadership muscle, right? If you're an entrepreneur, a business owner, we talked about here being professional kicking it up a notch of stopping being an amateur and getting into being a pro and a pro is always leading you gotta lead. There's two ways of leading you got to lead yourself first and then you got to lead others. That people are looking to you whether it's friends or family, or heck, even yourself, your own subconscious.

Your own beingness is there going, how are you showing up right now? Lead. Step forward. Be resilient in the face of these extreme circumstances, whatever they are showing up. Be flexible and adaptable. Begin to adjust and adapt to the new world order, if you will. In your world of what that is for you. Adapt to it. Be flexible. Create new routines. That's a good segue into the next section I want to talk about this third thing is following these 10 suggestions.

So number one, make your bed. Do something productive. If there's anything that you've done in the day, because you're down and out, this world changing or epic thing has happened and there's an extreme circumstance, you can kinda get depressed and anxious and a little bit down low and not doing things out of your normal routine. So one of the things that can help you weather that storm is to hang on to the routines, the things that you can control and do regularly and do them and one of them is make a bed. That comes certified by the US military guys. He's I believe written a book on it. Quite a popular, Comcast I think it is, video that's out on social. It was for a while circulating. A graduation address by this high ranking military officer. I don't know what he was, a general or something like that, doesn't matter. But he was saying, make your bed because it's a discipline a routine. If you've not accomplished anything in the day, at least you can look at that at night. You started your day and you ended your day with a little bit of routine and structure, because it's helpful and it's useful.

Two. Another thing to do is get showered and get dressed. I think that's a fantastic thing. I wear this collared shirt, and it is something that I have done for years. I've worked from home for years. Even in my corporate job, we had the opportunity and the good fortune I'll say, to work from home. The company I work for was like a fortune 10 high tech company. They want to 25% of their workforce to move home. That meant they needed to either rent or build 25% less office space. And they want to move like a sizeable portion of their workforce home. As soon as that came available in our area I snapped it up and moved our department into our houses.

I've worked from home for decades, about 20 years now. So in corporate and then in transitioning into being an entrepreneur and running my own businesses. I have built a dozen businesses over the years. And I've worked from home just for years and years. And one of the things I've done is adopt this discipline of getting dressed. I put on a collared shirt, I roll my sleeves as I'm getting ready for work, it's just a discipline, a structure. A routine to help me think and be mindful of being a pro. Doing my work and what I'm doing and taking it seriously not just laissez faire and yeah, whenever.

And here's the thing is, don't be working in your pyjamas. It's a temptation. It's novel. If you're working from home and transitioning, as may be happening for you right now, it is something that's important to keep that focus of being on-point. When you are getting dressed and getting out of your pyjamas you're signalling to your subconscious in your beingness to be doing that.

Three: So along with that is if you're gals, doing your makeup, guys shave, right? Don't be lazy and ignore the getting ready. I don't have a whole lot of hair to worry about. And so shaving is a little bit that I do. But for us guys shave if you're shaving, shave. Keep your beard clean and sharp. For you gals put on a bit of makeup. And just do a little bit of that routine stuff that helps move the day forward and keep you feeling like you're taking care of yourself. Again it is similar to making your bed and keep you moving forward.

Four: Next thing is make a list of five things that you want to accomplish in a day. Again with this accomplishing things like making the bed, anything else, you've at least done that. And what you can do is begin to add to that list with some different things that you want to accomplish in your work or business. And when you make those lists of things and you begin to chip through them, you've got a little bit of framework you just made for yourself, you've got some structure that you are able to work through and be productive.

Five: Next is call a couple of people in chat. If you're working from home, there's all kinds of apps and use of the Internet that you're able to do. You can FaceTime people, if you're on Wi Fi, you can use Facebook to do a video call. You can use WhatsApp, there's just a whole bunch of different applications. Pick up the phone and call folks. Connect with people and reach out to humans.

Six: The next piece is reach out beyond just chit-chatting and connecting socially. Here's a key piece. If you're facing some extreme life altering circumstances, it's going to be challenging on a number of fronts. Your own mental toughness and mental health is going to be challenged. There's going to be anxiety that increases and anxiousness. A little bit of depression might set in. Considering these things.

Your own self care, mental health care, personal self care. So head, heart, take care of your head, take care of your heart, your emotions. Reach out to people. This is a key word: reach. Reach. Reach. I'm saying this word for those that are maybe a little type A driven because you don't want to listen to this word that I'm going to say. Other people that aren't as driven as you are okay with: Ask for help! Right?

For those of you that are a little bit up in ego or would never asked for help. I'm gonna say "reach out" and create conversation for things that you're lacking. Ask for help. That's the whole point of reaching out. Be purposeful, set your ego aside and reach out for help from others. Others are likely in the same situation and they're ready and willing to help and helping each other is a huge thing. So valuable. Gives you something to do. Gives you something to focus on. Is really useful.

Seven: Here's one, again around protecting mental health and your mental state. It is limit the amount of news that you're taking in. Limit the amount of news. Newscasts are not necessarily the best thing. They're great for gathering information and getting detail, but they need to fill the hour so they start getting into minutiae that is like oh my gosh. Who would ever think of that or care? And it gets too much. It is overwhelming. It is not productive and not useful. And where in extreme circumstances where panic can kick in and hysteria, it creates a new extreme sport, of handling the current circumstance. So limit the amount of news input and protect your mind with what comes into it so that you're staying focused on what you need to do.

Eight: Wrapping up on the last couple is, move your body. Get your body in motion. Move your body. Your normal routine is going to be thrown off with these extreme measures to show up so create a new routine for yourself of being healthy with your body. Healthy with your physical beingness.

Head, heart and hands. You've heard me talk about that. I usually grab my fingers and rub my fingers together about hands. Because our head is what we think. Our intellect. Heart is our emotion. What we feel. Feelings. Our hands is the doing part. What we go and do. And that routine sometimes gets off and being healthy. Health is maintained by the stuff we put in. Information is what we're talking about. Food is second thing and then the third is moving this body of ours around. To keep it in motion, and healthy.

Our bodies are machines. If you're ending up being at home and not out there being active, it's not the healthiest. If you've had an active lifestyle, and now you're just sitting around the house, on the couch, on your chair, working at the computer desk? That can be unhealthy. So find things that you can get out, go for a walk, or even just in house up and upstairs and just doing light exercises moving your body and keeping you in motion.

(Nine: Food. Ooops, I missed this one. Food intake is really important. Eat a healthy diet so your body and immune system can be strong and deal with the stress of the extreme circumstances you are experiencing.)

Ten: The last thing I want to wrap up with is gratitude. You want to have an attitude of gratitude, because it helps keep your mental state in the right direction. And that's part of what we'll be talking about: is protecting your mind and limiting what's coming into it from a news and information standpoint. You want to be abreast of what's happening and what's important and useful. But this element of gratitude is now you from an inside out perspective, not the outside in but the inside out perspective. Maintaining a healthy mental attitude.

Having an attitude of gratitude is huge. It keeps your beingness in a state of openness. Of gratefulness. Even despite challenge that is facing you this epic land moving, earth shattering, world altering thing that may be in your world. Take pen and paper. Write out some things you're grateful for. We're talking both of the big things you're grateful for, like kids, and family, and friends, and love, and these bigger things. But also the little things.

If you're doing gratitude on a regular basis, you run out of the big things because there's 5 or 10 that are really big and important to you. So find smaller things you're grateful for. What are those small things? I'm grateful for... Computers. I'm grateful for ... a cup of tea in the afternoon. I'm grateful for... cup coffee in the morning. I'm grateful for... a walk with my dog. I'm grateful for... and fill in that blank... dot dot, dot. Put an ellipses after that and fill in that blank of what it is for you and be grateful.

I'm going to say kick it up a notch. Think it, write it down. When you're chatting with someone, when you pick up that phone to reach out to someone to have a chit-chat in the day say "Hey, what are a few things you're grateful for today? Here's mine!" Give a voice to them and talk about them. It'll help your beingness imbue that gratitude and get it into your bones and bubble it up more. Instead of the worry, fear and doubt that could be clouding your beingness and overtaking you. These elements of gratitude and the things write down and you talk about.

That's what I'm saying is talk about it to someone. Because it makes it more real to your beingness. When your beingness hears, like when you hear yourself saying these things and forming the words to even articulate it. That's huge. It's valuable. It's useful. Very healthy, and keeps you being productive.

I'm gonna wrap up here with the three things we talked about today was 1. asking a different question of changing from the why question, which we're all curious about but changing it to, What am I going to do now? So ask what now, in the face of these extreme things and circumstances that might be in your world. 2. was to be resilient, flexible and adaptable.

Three: And the last was going through a number of suggestions (10), 1. making your bed, 2. Shower and getting dressed. 3. Keeping yourself clean and taking care of yourself. 4. Was making a list of five things to do during the days that you're being productive. 5. It is reaching out and talking to people for your mental health and just create a connection. 6. The key piece for those that are really driven and the way I phrased it was to "reach out" (not necessarily "ask for help"). If your ego is a little bit difficult accepting that. I work with a lot of really driven people and asking for help sometimes is really tough mentally. So I'm saying just reach out. 7. Protect your mind. Limit the information that you take in from a news standpoint. 8. Move your body. Keep active by moving your body and last one is be grateful. 9. (I missed this one. Eat good Food to stay healthy). 10. Be grateful for little things. Write down things on a daily basis that you can be grateful for.

Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed the show please rate and recommend. Highly of course! On iTunes. On Overcast or wherever it is you subscribe to your podcasts. You can get more great information on this episode, it’s show notes, and our other episodes and shows, at TheProfitableMaverick.com. That’s The Profitable Maverick.com. Until next time, get out there, live more, love more, and be a more profitable Maverick!


About the Author

Tom Birchall is the founder of Mavericks Business Academy (MBA). When he is not conversing with an entrepreneur about life and more profitable business awesomeness he will be talking about his kids, playing ice hockey, the drums, or geeking out about digital marketing. Oh, and then there's root beer floats! ;) Clients tell him he is "smart with a heart!" He believes a smoothie a day keeps the doctor away and telling someone you love them is amazing!