Changing your perspective mid-crisis can become a transformative move.

We are living in uncertain times, and it’s natural to feel apprehensive about the future.

People on every level of society, from ground-floor entry-level employees to the business and political leaders, are asking themselves unprecedented questions:

What happens if I get sick? What if close friends or loved ones get sick?
What do I do if the economy crashes?
What does the future of my business look like?
What does the future of the world look like?

Most leaders and small business owners are going to be fixated on these questions for the entire extent of the global public health crisis. That fixation is going to lead to a sense of anxiety, and even dread, as time goes on.

But the uncertain environment that we are living in also presents a rare opportunity. We now have the time to assess personal goals and business strategies to create better versions of both.

Every situation has more than one perspective. For agency owners and business leaders who understand this, the current global crisis represents an opportunity to learn, change, adapt, and grow.

Step One: Conquering Fear and Economic Anxiety

Let’s look at two potential perspectives that you might have right now:

  • Perspective One: The economy is crashing, my clients aren’t building new websites or web applications. I chose a terrible time to start a digital agency and I’m not prepared to hang on for who-knows-how-long until things get better!
  • Perspective Two: I’m encountering failures, challenges, and obstacles on the way to success, and treating each of those as an opportunity to grow. This situation has something to teach me about my business, my strategy, and my approach to success.

The first perspective is an understandable knee-jerk reaction. You planned for things to go well, and a completely unexpected contingency uprooted your plans. The people entrusted with keeping you safe from these types of threats botched the job at every turn, and you’re left to deal with the repercussions.

All of this might sound incredibly threatening, but there is still room for a measured, practical-minded response: yours.

Whatever your response to the crisis and its impact on your business is, fear and anxiety are going to hurt more than they help. Hiding from the challenges that this situation forces on you prevents you from using them to become stronger, smarter, and better.

To paraphrase the words of Stoic philosopher and Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius: Although we have little choice when it comes to what happens to us, we can choose our response to what happens.

Choosing not to panic or make hasty decisions is a key survival skill in today’s uncertain business environment. Capitalize on the time you have now to build that skill.

The way to do it is by detaching yourself from the experience of fear and anxiety. You are still going to feel these things because you cannot stop emotions from happening. But you can examine them as they happen, and you can use them constructively.

Step Two: Reflect and Rebuild

Ask yourself what feelings the current business climate stimulates in you. There might be a combination of fear, curiosity, creativity, or even anger – it all depends on the unique way the situation is impacting your plans.

If you examine those feelings, you can identify how they actually drive your perspective and motivate your actions.

This introspective examination is key to identifying the best path forward. This is the time to reflect on your choices and learn what you can from them. If every obstacle is really just an opportunity to grow, then the reflection is the process you use to fuel that growth.

There are going to be profound and long-lasting consequences to today’s public health climate. But there are also going to be changes and opportunities that forward-thinking digital agency owners can capitalize on. 

Nothing that happens in the world can prevent you from exercising the freedom to learn. “Freedom,” as Jean-Paul Sartre famously wrote, “is what you do with what has been done to you.”

Now that you have been thrown off-course and placed well outside your comfort zone, you are in the perfect position to do some out-of-the-box thinking. That is the exercise of freedom that is going to help you address the challenges that the current business landscape is laying on you.

Maybe you will have to furlough employees. Many business leaders are finding themselves in the same position. Perhaps you will have to pivot towards new industries or diversify your client roster to provide some structural resilience. Maybe there are other options available to you – it’s up to you to take advantage of this sudden influx of free time to identify what they are.

Step Three: Advance and Adapt

Whether it takes two weeks, six months, or a year, one thing is certain: this is going to pass. When it does, you will have a new situation to contend with, and some time to look back on the choices you are making now.

You are either going to look back and say, “I capitalized on a difficult situation and learned how to transform my negative emotions into positive outcomes”, or you are going to look back and see someone who was motivated by fear and anxiety and probably made a few mistakes on the way.

Your ability to advance towards your goals, adapt to novel challenges, and inspire others to do the same depends on that perspective. Now is the time to move towards those goals and operate from a perspective of opportunity and abundance, even during uncertainty.
It may not pay off exactly the way you expect (thus the need to adapt), but it will pay off. Choosing to base your decisions on the right motivations can make all of the difference in the world.