Keeping calm in a crisis

By Martz Witty, Head of Martz Group

It’s not entirely uncommon for business people to occasionally feel that they’re not in control as they would like to be. In fact, there are times where they might feel that the excrement is hitting the oscillating air mover.

There are tons of courses and suggestions on how to deal with these moments, but I thought I’d share the ones that I most often use when sitting opposite a client who is clearly in panic mode and simply not coping with what’s going on. I find short practical tips work better.

I’ll start with a don’t. Don’t tell yourself to ‘calm down’. It just doesn’t work. Stress can be good and bad. The body needs a certain amount of stress to survive, the old fight or flight reflex is essential.

Anyway here are six pointers that I find help in a crisis.

  1. Take a break. It’s a natural reaction to dive in boots and all, but actually stepping back enables you to glean a clear picture of the situation, which is near-on impossible when you are perched right in the middle of it.
  2. Revisit why you are in business in the first place. Staying focused on your core purpose – the reason you got out of bed this morning, yesterday and all last week – provides food and motivation to push through the rough patches.
  3. Reality check. Slow down. Be intentionally slower and particular about what you are doing and why. It’s about being effective (doing the right things) rather than efficient (doing things right).
  4. Park up your ego. You don’t have to know everything personally, but you need access to the right answers. So start asking for another opinion, or several. Take each on their merits. Think about things in terms of “possible” solutions – no matter how left or right wing, or even plain crazy. Many a perfect solution has been born from a half-baked crazy starting notion.

Celebrate the wins. Do a stocktake of what is going right in your business and your life. The brain can play amazing tricks on you,

making you think you’re in a deep, dark hole when really it’s more of a shallow puddle in the scheme of things. It’s only then that stepping back and looking at things in perspective where clarity can come.

  1. Take control, take action. Failure to implement is the common cause of not achieving a forward momentum, even in the face of much adversity. Don’t just sit there like a stunned mullet – move. Sometimes it’s even better to make a wrong move than to take none at all.

So let’s now talk about the elephant in the room. Running a business and keeping your mental health stable.

Business is not always plain sailing – we encounter unexpected head winds, cut-offs and accidents.

The secret is being aware that things won’t (always) go to plan, and then having a course of action when this happens.

Maintaining one’s mental health and stability falls somewhat outside of what we are taught as we come though university or qualify as tradespeople .

But it is a very real aspect to life in the business world. That said, an awareness and open line of communication is essential. Your advisors are there to keep you on the straight and narrow in respect of business.

That is how to get more clients of the type you want, how to get them back more often, how to increase prices or margins and how to be more effective in the business processes.

That is (relatively speaking) the easy part. The more difficult part is how to achieve that whilst keeping and maintaining a significant other relationship, raise children, and stay involved in your spiritual or social events.

There is no point having the best and most beautiful business if your personal life is in tatters (yes a personal opinion).

The most important thing is to have someone to share your thoughts with. Maybe that’s a significant other, a colleague, a coach, an advisor.

  1. Just make sure you are heard and listened to. It is important. For you, for your family, for your business.
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