As we face these unprecedented times of pandemic and economic chaos, most of us can say we are feeling a loss of control while we struggle with the pressure of being overwhelmed. So much is changing around us at a dizzying pace, and we have to decide how to respond.
When we are presented with difficult challenges, for many our first reaction is to hunker down, to find a way to “ride out” the storm. Feeling overwhelmed can cause us to develop a survivalist mentality, one that urges, “Just make it through this. Stay safe. Stand your ground, defend what you have, and hold your breath until the threat passes. If you maintain where you are that’s good enough.”
Is the correct response? Have we succeeded if we simply survive? Or is there a better way?
I am inspired by the military view of life as it relates to facing challenges and overcoming obstacles. We can learn something from their training and culture that views every challenge as one to conquer, and every enemy as one to defeat. There is no accepted survival mentality in that world; rather, challenges are seen as an opportunity to show strength, gain ground, and achieve victory. None of that language accepts standing still and staying safe. A well-trained, moral military is not looking for a fight, but they are certainly not backing down from one either. They look to advance, and without a war they can’t gain ground.
What if you were to see yourself as a soldier and the challenge that’s overwhelming you as taunting: “Come on, see if you can beat me.” In response, will you decide to go on the war path? Will you make the choice to shake off your innate, passive desire to just survive and instead be on the offensive and seek to gain ground? The key here is that it is your choice.
What else does military training instill deeply into its subjects? Moving forward boldly into what is commanded without needing the full picture, and in fact without asking questions. The accepted response is simply “yes, sir”, and full compliance is expected. Without this, failure is certain.
Advancement without information requires courage and perseverance. In life, we rarely have all of the answers, and we never fully comprehend the larger plan. Are you willing to press forward against what is overwhelming and threatening you without the full picture, without being assured of what tomorrow holds, and without having all of your questions answered? Those who make a habit of doing this in life understand that victory is reserved for those willing to be bold enough to face their challenges with the tools they have today, not waiting to be in a perfect position to do so.
When you feel overwhelmed, often the urgent obscures the important. Realize that if you simply deal with the urgent, you will always be on the defensive. Addressing what is important will open the door for you to be on the offensive and to gain ground. The urgent calls to us loudly, but if you only respond to that voice, you will simply be defending your position. Growth, movement, and gain come when you prioritize the important over the urgent. Find others to handle the urgent, do what is needed so you do not lose ground, and then quickly get your eyes back on the important and your advancement.
Do you choose to see that challenge in front of you as an opportunity, or is it signaling your inevitable defeat? In this massive crisis that we face as a nation, there will be those who rise up and turn into the bitter wind of the challenge before them, and those who chose to either stand still or even run from it.
In the past few weeks, I personally have coached several small businesses to reinvent themselves in the face of this sudden disruption and, as a result, they have already been able to add new sources of revenue. They changed their mindset and decided to move against the challenge and persevere. When our economy recovers, these companies will be in an even better position than they were before the crash. All because they chose to see the opportunity.
Which response will you have; which path will you take? No one else can make that choice but you.
When we deal with challenges correctly, they lift us up and make us stronger. Next time you feel overwhelmed, see it as an opportunity to break through to another level in your career, your business, or your personal life. Embrace it, let it advance you, gain ground, and win your war! Every challenge has within it the seed of greater success. Be grateful for each one.
About Elizabeth Nader
Elizabeth Nader is a mindset and entrepreneur coach, motivational speaker, teacher, and author of the book “Master Your Mindset the Master’s Way”. In addition to a successful corporate career, Elizabeth founded several businesses, including one which was ranked on the Inc 5,000 Fastest Growing Companies list. Her enthusiasm for overcoming obstacles and discovering purpose, love of entrepreneurism, energetic drive, and unwavering belief in people’s potential propels her clients and students into new realms in both their personal and professional lives. Follow Elizabeth on LinkedIn and Twitter.