When is the last time you changed your mind? We change our shoes and clothes every day. In the course of our lives we change where we live, homes, schools for our kids and even friends. However, how often do we challenge ourselves to change our minds or how we think? I would say not enough. I came across a quote the other day that said people inevitably grow older but not necessarily grow up. If we look at the way we think, this might just be true. Wendy and I ended up having a conversation. Wendy has been feeling stuck at work. She runs a marketing consultancy business and has a team of ten. She started the business eight years ago. The last two years have been hard. The last three months of this year have been especially tough. Clients have cut down on spending as they adopt a wait and see approach because of the elections. Others owe her huge sums of money and they seem to have taken the same approach with payments. Wendy has been practically surviving on her overdraft to meet costs. She partly blames herself and cites all the incidences that she could have worked harder. She feels overwhelmed with everything and has joined the ongoing conversations about the difficulty of running a business during this season. She has also witnessed bigger companies closing down or downsizing. Concisely, things look bad and she is feeling the strain emotionally, physically, mentally and every other way that you can think off.
If you have been through something extremely difficult in your life, then you can understand that sometimes the only solution you have is to change your mind about what that problem means. We need to look at situations through different lenses. How do we do this? I first advised Wendy to stop thinking her situation was unusual or special. I run a business and can completely relate to what Wendy is experiencing. So can countless business owners. Others may relate to this because they are going through hard times at work or have even lost jobs. It may even be a direct financial situation. Going through something difficult does not mean that there is something wrong with your life. It means you are normal. I don’t think we were promised a smooth ride in life although we have idolized the concept of it through movies, advertisements, our conversations, what we put out on social media, some “success” stories, all which emphasise the concept of a perfect life which in reality does not exist. When we go to bed at night we silently wonder what is wrong with us because we do not seem to have it all together, like everybody else.
My everyday job is talking to people so I can honestly tell you that the person next to you or the person you admire is also going through something. In fact, you would be surprised at the weight of problems that the people you think have it all together are carrying. When you realise that in fact it is normal to have problems you stop trying to fix it in panic. This doesn’t mean you do not do what you can at the moment, it is OK not to have the perfect solution today. Wendy was overwhelmed because her problems became the constant song in her head. She criticized herself for them. She slept worrying about them and spent a lot of time trying to fix them and consequently talked about them a lot. This is not a great environment for creativity and finding solutions. Not a great way to run a business which needs a lot of that. Wendy’s approach was like trying to fill a water bottle that is already full. There would be no space for fresh water. It is natural to be concerned but if we fill our minds with the same thing i.e. the worrying and negative thoughts, we really will not end up in a different place. You get what you think about. To change our minds, we have to clear the junk in our minds (Click to Tweet this thought). Find a practice that works for you. Wendy would usually wake up every morning and immediately reach for her phone. So she started the day with noise from other people, social media, news etc. No wonder she was in despair. She has now decided to spend at least thirty minutes in silence every morning.
With a clearer and less judgmental mind, Wendy will now be able to see that she has what it takes to get through this. She has a great team that is very committed. Many businesses don’t make it to eight years so her business is actually among the fortunate. This is not the first business challenge that she has had to go through. We are so quick to see why we will fail and ignore the facts behind why we will succeed. We even forget that we have done it before. She has great networks through clients she has worked with over the years. It may be difficult financially at the moment but she has some down time for the next month or so. She can recharge her organization. Look at what can be done better, new products, better internal processes etc. Even take the time to read some helpful books. So there is an opportunity even in this difficult period.
Wendy left our conversation willing to change how she looked at her situation. I personally believe that challenges come with the resources to meet them and everybody always has something they can use. The resources just may not look like what we expect. A changed mind can see the available resources and also the opportunity in the challenge. Your mind is your most important asset and sometimes the only thing you have to get through a difficult situation. Protect, refresh and change it (Click to Tweet this thought).
Waceke, runs an Entrepreneurship Program. For details do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org | Facebook/Waceke Nduati| Twitter@cekenduati |YouTube/Centonomy101