Originally used when referring to military operations, the phrase ‘the fog of war’ coined by Clausewitz, alludes to the uncertainty of one’s own capabilities during the testing times of warfare.
It’s not surprising that this phrase now rings true with many business owners around the world who are trying to trust their own capabilities during times of great uncertainty.
Although we may not be fighting a war as such (does an invisible enemy count?), we are definitely up against an overwhelmingly destructive force that is threatening our lives and altering the way we function as a society.
Unless you’re a sociopath, you’re likely feeling some degree of stress or anxiety over the current situation. Or at the very least, a certain degree of responsibility or liability for how things could play out. How could you not? This is your vocation and your livelihood. It’s the job that sustains your lifestyle and the lifestyle of your family. It’s the job that sustains the lifestyle of your employees and their families. It’s the work that transforms the lives of your patients so that they can give back to their families and better experience world as a whole. It’s a big deal, and you’ve probably invested far too much time, energy and money in it, to allow it to just curl up and wither away.
Now is the time for ruthless prioritisation – and your priority at this time is YOU.
Here are 5 pieces of advice to help you keep your cool during this challenging time…
1. Don’t act on impulse
When panic sets in, be diligent not to stimulate your lizard brain – the one that makes you fight, flight or freeze. Many practice owners have already made rash decisions while in this mindset leading to premature closures, unnecessary layoffs and contract terminations. As a result, there is no question that they will not be poised to reap the opportunities this time will undeniably bring.
Before you take any of these measures, assess all of your options. As a company, however big or small, you are a stakeholder in wider industrial, economic and social systems which are also under significant stress. Look at your supply chains and ecosystems holistically. If you make decisions to solve your own problems at the expense or neglect of others and those who depend on you, you will create a mistrust that damages your business in the longer term.
On the other hand, supporting your employees, customers, partners and everyone else in your social system during times of adversity is likely to create lasting goodwill and trust.
‘Live one’s values precisely when we are most likely to forget them.’
2. Use the time wisely
Time isn’t something you usually have the luxury of, so make the most of it. Enjoy spending more time around your family and your home. Appreciate these precious moments that many of you will have longed for while working those long, unforgiving hours. But don’t forget to devote some time to plan and prepare. We’re not likely to see the end of this pandemic any time soon. Even when we’re through the thick of it, expect additional phases to follow. Any proactive steps you take now will help to fortify your practice and better equip you for future threats.
3. Be versatile
Avoid looking at the crisis in a one-dimensional manner – this isn’t just a financial or logistical dilemma. Trying multiple approaches or looking at things from alternative perspectives will help you keep an open mind to new ideas and solutions. Could you diversify your service and find new revenue sources? Could you review all of your marketing techniques – and improve them? Can members of your team work from home? Could you improve your processes and efficiencies? Could you upskill your team? Coud you get training for yourself as a leader in areas you know will improve your practice? Could you evaluate your objectives for the year and make a new strategic plan? Could you spare some time to serve and help those in your community?
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
If this virus has taught us anything, it’s that living wages, guaranteed healthcare for all, unemployment and labour rights are not far-left issues, but issues of right versus wrong and life versus death. We are all deserving of these fundamental assets and should not feel ashamed or undeserving to benefit from them.
If you’re experiencing or foresee cash flow issues, consider external resources, including any government support or small business loans you may be entitled to during this period of disruption.
5. Look after yourself
It’s all well and good battling through and rolling with the punches, but don’t do it at the expense of your health and well-being.
Make sure you allow yourself some room to rest and recuperate. Starting today, take a long walk, practice yoga, cook yourself a nice meal, or watch your favourite film. Anything that nurtures your mind and body will make you more resilient and less likely to burn out. If you feel that things are getting too much, take a break. Everyone’s going through their own internal turmoil, so don’t suffer in silence and talk to someone.
Have a great week.