5 Ways to Lead Through Crisis
1. Remember: You’ve made it this far
When I was 18, shortly after I graduated high school, I spent 2 months in jail and then 2 years on house arrest.
When I got out of jail, it was hard enough to get a good job with a criminal record, but this was also the end of 2008, during the financial crisis.
So not only was I living off of part time jobs, food stamps and unemployment checks of $200 a week, I was socially isolated and limited to essential travel (work, school and the grocery store one time a week for an hour).
When I reflect on that time, and think about how those experiences created a sense of independence, resilience and creativity in me that you can’t read in a blog or learn about in school, I’m grateful.
Most importantly, I’m still alive. Which means I made it out of that! And if I can make it out of that, I can make it out of this.
What experiences have you gone through that you never thought you’d make it out of? Reflect on those, and use them to encourage you during this time. You’re going to be all right.
2. Put your health first
In times like this, it’s imperative that we focus on what we can control. One of those things is our health. I’ve been in the fitness industry a long time, so I’ve heard the “I’m too busy” excuse more times than I can count. The reality is that most of us have more free time than normal, we’re most likely working from home, and we no longer have an excuse to not prioritize our health.
So what do we do about exercise?
First, take a practical approach to this new journey, realizing that it is still an added responsibility.
Second, set small goals and stick to them. Here’s a few examples:
- Exercise 3 or more times a week for 30 minutes (see Superfit Foods blog)
- Take regular walk breaks every few hours
Once you’ve set those goals, put them in your calendar like you would put any other important meeting.
Now what do we do about our diet?
The diet part is much harder for some, because at the root, it’s a self-control issue. Unhealthy food is so quickly available to us that I’s often times our first and only choice, especially when we are “busy”. I promise if you either begin to plan in advance and commit to grabbing something healthy for lunch, prepping from home or even easier, using a meal prep company, you will begin to:
- feel better
- sleep better
- have more confidence
- be happier
- and ultimately, be far more productive in both the short and long term
3. Be proactive, so you can afford to be reactive
In the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey explains one of the habits is “be proactive, not reactive”. That book is gold, and Covey is a genius, but one thing I’ve learned in business, and something that’s become very evident during the coronavirus crisis, is that being reactive is inevitable.
For times like this, it’s important that you’ve already invested your time in being proactive with everything else. This way you have the time to be reactive.
Research in social psychology and behavioral economics has shown that making plans, even if it’s day to day, helps you achieve your goals, even if the goal is to simply maintain your sanity.
Being proactive looks a little different for everyone, but in the most general sense, my best advice is a few key points:
- Structure your schedule (daily), even if you are working from home.
Structuring your schedule gives you a sense of confidence, knowing at least you are somewhat in control of the next 24 hours. Schedule your work hours, your workouts, your Zoom calls with friends and your quiet time.
- Overcommunicate with your staff and schedule daily Facetime or Zoom calls, and be present when communicating.
Once you’ve got your schedule down, make sure to over-communicate it with everyone that matters right now, whether it’s friends, family, coworkers or all of the above. Being isolated and remote is a challenge but not an excuse to falter on let a value as important as consistent communication fall by the wayside.
- Act fast on what you can, put everything else on the back burner. In other words, be patiently urgent.
So ask yourself, “what can I control, fix, progress, grow, help, etc – right now?” Then act on it. Jot down the stuff that you can’t touch right now and revisit it when the right time comes.
- Make a plan A, B, C, D and E from best case scenario to worse case scenario.
Pull back out your notebook and write, “Plan A: businesses open May 1”, all the way to “Plan E: I lose my job and spend all my savings”, then create a plan of what you’ll do. Where will you move? Who do you need to contact? Who do you need to ask for help?
4. Let all of your expectations go
In times like this, humility, gratitude and hard work are the ultimate currency. It should be obvious that no matter how much money you have, no matter how good you are at planning, we still have very little control over our circumstances at the end of the day.
So what does “let your expectations go” mean, practically?
Even though I just explained how important scheduling your day to day is, get comfortable with adapting to change, and at the drop of a dime.
In mid-March, when the pandemic really because serious in the US, I felt like I saw the writing on the wall. Even though in North Florida, we were pretty relaxed, I had a feeling a lot of businesses were going to be shutting down, and fast.
Superfit Foods operates by delivering to 28 locations, all either fitness studios or wellness stores, and if they shut down – we shut down.
Within 2 days, we transitioned from delivering to 28 locations to being a home delivery service, now going to around 500 client’s homes. That’s weeks of logistical and technical work done in a matter of 48 hours, and a ton of communication.
In addition to quickly adapting to change, you’ll need to practice the highest level of humility, and work harder than ever before.
When we started home delivery, it was not a smooth transition. But it was what we had to do to survive as a company, keep feeding people, and keep our staff employed.
Over the past 4 weeks, we have had to hire 9 new people, we’ve seen payroll expenses go up 10% while we’ve seen revenue decrease by 25%. Almost everyone on staff, from our marketing team to the line cooks, all have worked overtime delivered to client’s homes.
No one has said, “this isn’t what I went to college for” or “this isn’t my job”. We all knew that in order to make it through this, our expectations and our pride will have to be set aside for the greater good. We have to do whatever it takes.
If you want to make it through this, you’ll need to do the same.
5. Have faith and be positive!
Because let’s be honest, no one wants to be around a pessimist. They can watch the news or scroll on social media if they want to engage in negativity. As leaders, it’s our responsibility to be a light in the community and a positive, encouraging influence to those around you.
Either way, I understand this still might be the toughest one…
One thing Aaron from Fitaid on my recent podcast episode said that stuck out to me that I loved was, “stand firm at the gates of your mind”. Basically, our mind is where this whole crisis will make or break us.
Jim Stockdale (where we get the Stockdale Paradox, which is confronting realism with optimism) said, “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
How do we stay positive in a time like this? 3 things and then I’m done!
- Practice self-control when it comes to the rabbit holes of media
- earn to see the bright side of things
- Start gratitude journaling for a few minutes at the beginning and end of each day. I usually do 3 things about my health, finances and family/friends
- Revisit your best-case scenario everyday (plan A, B and C ideally)
- Consider the potential benefits of everything going on
- Try to have fun
- Don’t forget about humor
- Play a game of charades over a Zoom call with your staff