Why Grow Now? “The price of inaction is far greater than the cost of making a mistake.” —Meister Eckhart
For some, hunkering down and waiting for the storm to pass might seem like the best way to meet this crisis. In reality, it’s the most dangerous. Hope is not a strategy; action is the antidote to almost every challenge. Want to beat this pandemic and thrive? Then it’s time to act. Here’s why. Times of disruption are ripe with opportunity. “Be greedy only when others are fearful.” —Warren Buffett Ask a Silicon Valley CEO how to kill a giant, and they’ll tell you that to compete with the likes of Microsoft, Apple and Google, the only game in town is to get disruptive. Startups can’t undercut or out-advertise established players, so a blue-ocean strategy is wisest. We can do the same in our own lives and careers, whether we run a business or not—and what person is not the CEO of their own “company”? This lockdown is an invitation for us to grow—to seize the opportunities created by radical shifts in business-as-usual. For you, this might mean finally launching that new health product, or finding a new way to help the boss.
Times of disruption are full of danger. “All courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding danger (it’s impossible), but calculating risk and acting decisively. Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth.” —Niccolo Machiavelli
Yes, opportunity abounds, but if nothing else, this pandemic has shown us that nobody’s job is secure. Thought your work was an essential service? Fate has a way of humbling us, doesn’t it? This warning is not to scare you, but hopefully to get you to see that nobody is entitled to a salary. In the long term, you are only paid for the value you can create. When you start treating your career as a business, with you as its CEO and captain of the ship, and plan your success accordingly, your financial vitality will grow.
We’ve been benched—make the most of it. “Patience is also a form of action.” — Auguste Rodin
Smart athletes who are sent to the penalty box don’t waste time sniping the referee. The great ones ask how did I put myself here?—then study their opponents for opportunities. They are always learning. One guarantee in life is that you will be stuck in The Waiting Place more than a few times.
The appropriate response here is: Accept it and move forward where you can. Don’t squander this time on the bench with TV, anxiety, stress or fear. Instead of one more episode of Shark Tank, why not spend that lunch hour reading a life-changing article or book? Working with a coach? Journaling about your goals?
If you’re not focused on you, you’re focused on the noise. “Focus on what only you can do. Give the rest of it away.” —Elise Mitchell
Are we flattening the curve? Has the virus peaked? Is the supply chain broken? (If you’re still eating bananas and drinking coffee, the answer is no.) For most people the healthiest response is, that’s not my concern. Unless you’re a titan of industry, elected politician, epidemiologist, or own a cargo ship or two, you have little to no influence over those things. “I need to read the news daily so I can be informed!” some say. That’s a valiant notion, but ask whether the news just angers you or moves you to act? Stop. Every minute of attention that you focus on events outside of your influence is a minute you’re not investing in your personal growth and happiness. Be a Stoic: Focus on what you can control and ignore the rest.
2020 will surely be remembered as the most rapidly changing year in our lifetimes. Once you see the opportunity that this shift is laying at our feet, you’ll want to act. But jumping in without a plan is a bad idea.
You can’t hit a target that you can’t see, so it’s important to set your goals, then create a plan that will give you the best chance of reaching them. But how do you actually do that? And what should you focus on? Here are some excellent tools that will help you craft your master plan.
REFLECT on your life. “Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” —Carl Gustav Jung
When a CEO or politician first steps into the role, they don’t immediately start barking out commands. They focus their first days and weeks on briefings and key meetings that will allow them to get a lay of the land. When it comes to your own life and personal growth, it would be a bad idea to get busy without having a clear picture of reality. Reflection means holding a mirror up to a situation (or ourselves) so that we can see reality clearly. And the best way to reflect on ourselves is through a journal. The act of writing down your anxieties and fears, your hopes and dreams, or simply reviewing your day, will bring sharp clarity to your life. Jim Rohn, one of the founders of the modern personal development movement, knew that daily journaling not only brings clarity to our life but helps us solve problems; you can only write down the same complaints about your life for so many days in a row before the discomfort forces you to change. Rohn also knew that as we practice the craft of writing, we get better at it. As we improve, so does our communication. Clear writing requires clear thinking, and when our mind is sharper, we not only get better at expressing ourselves, but at articulating our goals and deepest desires. When we reflect on our lives though the act of journaling we gain the clarity to see where we may be living out of alignment with our highest values and how to fix that.
FOCUS on the hustle. “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” ―Stephen King
There has been no better time in the last century to start a business than now. Millions of companies are closing their doors. Whether you or your loved ones have been directly affected or not, you can’t help but feel heartbroken about this. And yet, it is reality. The economy is reorganizing itself daily before our eyes as old ways of doing things become impossible and new solutions are invented. If you want to thrive, you will need to adapt yourself to the new world and change the way you work. For many people this means that hanging onto a salaried job—with your fate in the hands of another person or faceless HR department—is a risky strategy. Transitioning fully into entrepreneurship right away might not be the right move for you, but diversifying your income stream with a side hustle (your Plan B) can insulate you from a crisis, like the one we’re living through. But how do you choose the right side-hustle idea? There’s a newsletter and podcast dedicated to that, but here are some rules of thumb to get you started. Focus on what you love doing. Starting a business is easy—taking it to profitability is one of the most challenging pursuits you’ll undertake. You should choose a goal that you’ll enjoy chasing for the next five years, minimum, to ensure you’ll follow through. Play to your strengths. Great on video and know your way around editing software? Then your marketing strategy might focus on growing an engaged YouTube following. Not a great writer? Then starting a blog might not be for you. Decide on your hedgehog concept. In the classic business book Good to Great, researchers found that the most successful companies got really good at ONE thing, the same way a hedgehog is great at rolling up into a ball to protect itself. Focus on what you can be the best in the world at, and the competition won’t catch you.
Growth Is Life – “If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.” —Gail Sheehy
Look at all of nature and you’ll see that everything that is not growing is dying. Now, if you refuse to evolve, you probably won’t expire, but it’s a guarantee that you’ll be missing out on huge parts of life.
Without constant personal growth we can’t experience the richness of life’s joys, and we fail to become the men and women that our potential promises we could be if only we worked at it. And personal growth does require work—the conscious, diligent application of our toil and talents. To what? To whatever goal we set our minds to; that’s your choice. But here’s what those who are resistant to change fail to see: It can be just as much or more work to stay the same in a world that is rapidly evolving around you. Grant Cardone made a comment that was striking for its simple power: “It’s more work to not succeed than it is to succeed.” For many readers, that will be a wake-up call. Failing to reach your goals, watching your dreams slip through your hands after another year, struggling to make ends meet—all that is far harder than paying the price needed to build a foundation under your castles in the sky.
This pandemic is another wake-up call: that focusing on your personal growth now is more important than ever.