Winning, Not Whining Through Hard Times

We don’t really experience reality all the time. Often, we experience and live a reality which is based largely on our perceptions and personal mental filters. Knowing the difference between your perceptions and reality can help you win, not whine through these hard times.

On a flight back from Portland, Oregon, last week, I read the Wall Street Journal for the day, cover to cover. I noticed the journalistic language in all the articles I found. Out of perhaps 30 big and small headlines, 16 headlines which were doom-saying and negative. These used words like “sink”,”loss”,”meltdown”,”cuts”. Let’s get some perspective here. Can a 3.1% daily dip in a country’s stock exchange be accurately described as a market which is ‘plummeting’?

Singapore’s biggest broadsheet, The Straits Times reported that retail sales fell a seasonally adjusted 1% between August and September. Year on year, retail sales in September rose 7.2 per cent. Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales rose 8.4 per cent from a year, according to the Department of Statistics. And they say we are in ‘ recession’? This spirit of catastrophisation also fuels panic, impulsive, fear-led decisions, and makes entire populations start behaving in ways that help the economy deteriorate further. Sure, some people who have been making some bad decisions earlier will have to face a major shift in their present and future spending habits. But for the rest of us, not scrabbling for our next meal, should we be catastrophising?

So, from moving from whining to winning, here are some skills you need to exercise:

1) Get some Perspective – moving farther from your subject matter helps you get a better, much better informed view. This is still your ‘ universe’ in which you are operating, but boy ,do you get more information to shape your decisions

2) Look beyond the language around you and create a reality you can live with – meaning, just because other folks are catastrophising doesn’t mean you should

3) Ask “what’s the worst that could happen”? – Surprisingly, much of the time, even the worse isn’t too bad. What tends to happen instead, is that people leap on the worst case scenario first, and start extrapolating that scenario’s impact on their whole life. Stop that.

4) Get a life – people who have invested in building a network of friends, business contacts, family, hobbies, found spirituality, and a solid foundation for their ego – fare much better in harder times. This matrix of support aids  anyone by providing great resilience tools from the outside and the inside. If your job title was really the only thing you lived for, you are in trouble if you get retrenched.