By Marc Beauchamp
There's nothing wrong with experiencing fear. We all have it. Some fears are real; most are imagined. The error is to become paralyzed by fear. I'll be honest: when I witnessed the impacts of the new coronavirus in Italy and other European countries, and when U.S. businesses began to shut down, I went right to fear.
Worst case scenarios invaded my mind. I imagined my portfolios going to zero, the companies I'm invested in getting slammed. I envisioned I'd have to lay off employees, that my renters would default on my investment properties, my stocks would be crushed and, most importantly, my family's health would be impacted. The list goes on. I'm sure you've had scenarios playing out in your head, too.
Fear is a funny thing: the more you give it power the bigger it grows. We've all heard the acronym for fear: False Events Appearing Real. When I take a good look at fear, I realize that underneath it's a story. So there's a trigger. Today, it's the corona virus (a fact), that launches a story (fiction). And this story determines what we believe is possible. It drives our behavior.
It's your choice. You can believe a disempowering story that results in inaction, procrastination or denial. Or you can choose an empowering story that drives you to act and modify behavior.
The challenge for many is being able to clearly see reality. I often see businesspeople who are so trapped in their stories they can't see the truth. They have lied to themselves for so long – either by commission or omission – that reality is almost impossible to access. It's like a broken marriage. There's little or no communication, no romance, and they are more like roommates than husband and wife. But they choose to stay in the marriage for various reasons, all driven by their inability to face the truth: something needs to be done to either save the marriage or end it.
It's the same in business. We keep doing the same thing, often getting the same mediocre results because we are unwilling to face reality. That's called insanity.
So, ask yourself: What stories are you believing that are limiting your business, relationships, health and spiritual connectedness? What is the cost to your well-being, family, children, employees, finances and health when you believe these stories?
How do we move from fear to faith? First, get out of the stories and into the facts. Look at the circumstances from a factual perspective and what the reality is of your current situation. In my initial reaction to COVID-19, I realized fairly quickly that I was projecting, that I needed to take a deep breath, look at the facts of my financial angst and deconstruct my stories.
I asked myself: Would my portfolios be worthless? Would my renters not pay? What was the worst case for my investments? At what point might I have to reduce staff? What did my cash flow, access to cash and fixed expenses look like? Would my business plans be totally disrupted?
Once I did a deep dive into the facts without my stories, I realized that options were available to weather this storm. Faith replaced fear: faith in my abilities to create a new, empowering story rather than a disempowering one; a belief there was a better solution than enslavement to fear. After all, isn't my concept of faith a story also? But much of my faith today, probably like you, is based on a long track record of being able to walk through fear and come out on the other side.
How did I build this history? By making a lot of mistakes; being willing to confront my own lies; and committing to new habits, patterns and beliefs that supported my aspirations rather than tore them down. Power and passion are found in faith.
Have faith that there's a better way to live your life than in fear. Then apply that faith to your focus. What you focus on determines your behavior, and behavior drives results.
If this virus has exposed areas in your business and life where you were unprepared, look at it as a gift. It's giving you the opportunity to confront limiting stories, replace them with new ones and make massive adjustments in how you live.
The current situation is giving you a chance to build a new foundation. Structures that last are built on solid foundations. The strongest trees have the deepest roots.
No one will build this foundation for you. It won't be given; it will have to be earned. It's your choice. Are you going to live in fear or faith?
Marc Beauchamp is author of Survive and Thrive in the Merchant Services Industry and founder of Bankcard Life, a community for payments professionals. He is offering a free copy of his book to all payments professionals at www.bankcardlife.com/greensheet. Marc welcomes your comments and feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Green Sheet Inc. is now a proud affiliate of Bankcard Life, a premier community that provides industry-leading training and resources for payment professionals. Click here for more information.
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