be honest. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to survival during
challenging times. But there are some strategies that will help no
matter what situation you and your business are in.
The first strategy, for starters, is not to take things too
seriously. I know that there can be significant consequences as a
result of the things we do or don’t do, but in the scope of things that
really matter… those consequences are incidental.
Have you heard the expression “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s
all small stuff,” from the book of the same name? When you put the
everyday occurrences of life into perspective, most of them don’t
really matter all that much.
It’s more important than ever in tough times to keep everything in
its proper perspective. “Things” don’t matter all that much. It’s nice
to have toys and gadgets, but toys can be replaced and we can still
enjoy life without every latest gadget.
Yes, it’s important to make a good impression, but people aren’t
attracted to you because of the suit you wear or the toys you have.
It’s who you are as a person that causes people to be attracted to you,
choose to do business with you, and decide to follow you.
Don’t get me wrong: Toys, gadgets, and suits are nice to have. My
point is simply that if you have to forgo some of them in tough times,
it won’t have much bearing on your success. Don’t take things so
seriously. Instead, during tough times, be the best “you” that you
A good place to start is by working on your attitude. How do you
work on attitude? Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.
Cut out the negative messages. Stop watching TV
news. Stop reading the newspaper. Trust me. In this day and age, you
can’t help but hear about the really important things. There’s no need
to seek them out (along with all the negative news and stories).
Avoid negative people. What you focus on determines your reality. If
you hang around with people who see everything in a negative light, you
will see everything in a negative light. It will become your reality.
You can see where I’m headed with this.
If you want positive things to happen in your life, hang out with
positive people. Positive people share what works; negative people
share what doesn’t work. Positive people are more creative. When they
are faced with a challenge, they decide to overcome it and are
solution-oriented. Negative people tend to focus on the obstacle and
get “stuck.” Your present reality will slowly shift to a more positive
reality as you associate with positive people.
If you really want to kick your attitude into high gear, don’t just
eliminate negative messages; rather, decide to introduce positive
messages. Get your hands on some tapes or CDs that will help you grow.
Listen to motivational and personal-growth programs. Will you notice an
immediate change? No, but you will over time.
Next, work on your energy. In times of stress and anxiety, it’s even
more critical to eat right, exercise, and get the proper amount of
sleep (generally 6-8 hours a night). By taking care of yourself
properly, you maximize your ability to be highly productive throughout
the day—every day. Know how to avoid that midafternoon “crash”? Eat 5-6
smaller meals a day instead of the typical 2-3 large meals a day.
This is a nice lead-in to my second strategy for success in tough
times: Don’t be too hard on yourself, or on others. Each of us is doing
the best we can given where we are, what we have to work with, and what
we’re going through at the time. Most of us make mistakes. Most of us
could do things “better.” Most of us are feeling the pressure of the
world right now. So strive to be more understanding of others. And as
hard as it can sometimes be, cut yourself some slack. Staying positive
and solution-focused will always produce better results than beating
yourself up and focusing on mistakes and weaknesses.
Once your attitude and energy levels are good (physical, emotional,
mental, and inspirational), then you need work on the next success
strategy—building relationships with current clients, prospects, and
centers of influence. (If you try to do this while your attitude and
energy levels are low, you’ll succeed only in driving people off at a
faster pace.) Especially in difficult times, you can’t “hard-sell”
people. You can only set things up so that when someone decides to buy,
they buy from you.
The key to finding prospects, getting referrals, and making sales in
challenging times is relationship-building. Make a greater effort to
stay in touch with people. Find ways to add more value to current
clients and take an interest in them; you will not only create “brand”
loyalty to you but also encourage the flow of referrals to you.
Don’t hunker down in your office. Get out and meet people in coffee
shops, in elevators, at networking events, and at parties. Start a
practice of taking your centers of influence to lunch on a
Although it’s true that the economy is challenging and people are
uncertain about their future, it’s just as true that life goes on.
People still buy things, do things, sell things, go places, and want to
enjoy their lives. It’s up to us to be available to people, build
relationships, and offer solutions. If your focus is simply to “sell”
things, you’ll find it to be a long, hard, frustrating effort.
Invest in systems that “touch” people, help you stay in people’s
minds, and let folks know you’re thinking of them. (Obviously, the more
automated your system is, the better, but you have to be willing to do
whatever it takes to succeed.)
To summarize: The best strategies for surviving (or maybe even
thriving) in tough times are (1) not to take things too seriously; (2)
attain and maintain a positive attitude; (3) eat, exercise, and sleep
for high productivity; (4) don’t be too hard on yourself or others; and
(5) create sales through relationship-building rather than
Those, of course, are the best strategies for success all the time,
but they are especially important in challenging times, when
less-effective solutions don’t work.