Did you start the new year with bright shiny plans and a Can-Do Attitude? Everywhere you look are references to how the outlook is poor or changing at an obscenely slow pace. It’s enough to consider putting your head under a pillow and see if things will get better without you. They won’t… so let’s try a different approach We’re not talking about half-baked, “everything will be all right” optimism. It’s really about resiliency, a deeper form of optimism. Resiliency is an amazing trait that successful small business owners have in their psyche. It is the faith in yourself that you can cope with adversity successfully. “I can see clearly now, the rain is gone. I can see all obstacles in my way” Sure things aren’t all bright and shiny right now in the business community. Seems like they are more like that moment after a terrible storm when things are calm again, the clouds are lifting away, and you can see the aftermath. In this moment of quiet, you know you can handle it. You’ve got the tools and the skills. You made it through the storm and you can make it through the clean up as well. This is resiliency. So what really makes us resilient? Some of the factors named by the American Psychological Association in their article, The Road To Resilience, actually sound like typical strategies we use in our small businesses all the time: The capacity to make realistic plans and take steps to carry them out A positive view of yourself and confidence in your strengths and abilities Skills in communicating and problem solving The capacity to manage strong feelings and impulses* “Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind. It’s going to be a bright, bright sunshiny day” When we’re in crisis or the crisis is swirling around us, it’s not easy to know the best course of action. Do you hunker down and wait? Do you continue with your original plans? People around us have opinions and feelings that buffet us. There are the people who say the sky is falling. There are others who say stay the course and keep a stiff upper lip. There are others who say adjustments must be made but everything will be all right. There comes a moment in resiliency when it doesn’t even matter if the crisis is still happening or not. This moment has a serenity when you know what you must do. You’re sure the sun will come back again eventually. “I think I can make it now, the pain is gone, all of the bad feelings have disappeared…” That asterisk after “the capacity to manage strong feelings and impulses” is an important one. Often we resist our crises and refuse to pay attention to our emotions. We figure if we stay busy going day to day, it will all go away magically. Emotions are often tied to expectations. Before the crisis, we expected things to carry on forever. When this doesn’t happen, we are actually experiencing a loss. Some of what eats away at our resilence are feelings of grief. Couple this with sense of insecurity, even the most confident person will have doubts and fears. Talking to a trusted friend or mentor removes the emotional charge that keeps us from thinking clearly. (Clients tell me that writing down everything that is in their heads in a journal or on a piece of paper can serve the same purpose.) When you acknowledge what you’re feeling, it clears the way to cope effectively. “…It’s going to be bright, bright sunshiny day” No crisis goes away overnight. Like I wrote in the beginning, this is not about some half-baked “everything will be all right” kind of thinking. Resiliency is a choice to manage yourself and your business positively. Acknowledge that things are bad or at least not ideal for you. Now make a plan that reflects how you want to build a thriving small business. You’re not alone and you’ve got the power of resiliency to weather anything. How are you resilient? What steps are you taking to keep yourself sane and your business thriving?