How entrepreneurship has prepared me to handle a pandemic
By Lauralee Sheehan, Founder + CCO of Digital 55
The world is going through a lot right now. It’s confusing, it’s challenging, and it’s scary. It feels like the world we were raised to understand, no longer exists and in moments like these, the uncertainty of it all can make you feel like you want to curl up into a ball and hide under a blanket.
Or spend all day watching the news and checking social media.
Or distract yourself instead with a day-long Netflix binge.
Let’s just call a spade a spade, it feels like everything is totally f’d up right now. And none of these things are the wrong way to react in the face of a global crisis. But when you are an entrepreneur with a business to run, the show somehow must go on. I am grateful for my experiences as an entrepreneur, because they have taught me how to not only survive, but thrive, in moments of chaos.
I started my business in the wake of my employer going bankrupt, from which I learned how to mobilize quickly to support our clients and provide space to continue those key relationships and build a new future. I’ve dealt with late-paying clients, with my own bills to pay and my team relying on me to get them paid. And I’ve had to move forward with my business and support my team, no matter what was going on in my personal life. No matter what successess or losses we came up against.
We are brought up to believe that we can count on stability — a good job, a nice home, a pension and identified life milestones. But entrepreneurship has taught me that not only can you not always count on stability, but you can happily choose a life that exists outside of that norm — a life that thrives off of unpredictability and fosters strength in all areas of your life.
I think most entrepreneurs are born with a sense of resilience instilled in them, but that doesn’t mean you can’t cultivate it in your own life, too. Whether you work a steady 9-5, are getting ready to launch your own business, or just want to gracefully cope with the rollercoaster of life (or a sudden global pandemic), you can build your own sense of resilience.
Here are 9 ways to build resilience in moments of chaos:
1. Let yourself feel the feelings, but then brush yourself off and move forward. You’re allowed to feel angry, sad, confused, and emotional. But don’t let yourself wallow for too long. Give yourself a window to process your feelings and process grief, but then make a date for when it’s time to leave those things behind you and move forward.
2. Don’t let the past define your future. You can’t control the past (or what’s happening in the present, right now). All we can do to feel a sense of control in these moments is interpret and accept the present and plan for the future.
3. Return to your roots. Get back to doing the things that make you feel like yourself. Listen to music, read a book, and stay connected to your loved ones. It’s more important now than ever to make time for those things to help you stay grounded.
4. Take action. In moments of uncertainty, it can help you feel better by doing something that moves projects forward. Look around and see what opportunities are available now, make a plan for the coming months, and if those won’t work, think about how you can help out in your community in the meantime.
5. Reconnect with your purpose. How can you create value both in the present and for the future? What are you good at? What are your gifts? What brings you joy? Now is the time to plan for ways you can make a profound change in the future.
6. Give back. Think from a humanist perspective and step out of your own personal scenario. How can you support your community? Your coworkers? Your family? Service can be really calming and reassuring in moments of anxiety.
7. Look at everything as an opportunity. Come from a place of gratitude and look at these challenges as something to overcome or create from, rather than an excuse to self-destruct. But if you need to self-destruct for a while, that is sometimes part of the process.
8. Be good to yourself. Be gentle with yourself and don’t push yourself to make things happen immediately. Nothing will happen overnight, so let yourself be okay with that.
9. Maintain a routine and a sense of normalcy. Try to go to bed at the same time you normally would, work out when you normally would, and eat what you normally would (though we can all agree how easy it is to chow down on those quarantine snacks these days).
These are some of the things that have worked for me and my team of collaborators and independent freelancers.
Tell us: what tips do you have for coping with this current global experience? What’s helped you to feel more resilient or calm in the face of chaos?