Gini Dietrich

The 10 Mindset Shifts to Get Yourself Through a Crisis, Part 1

By: Gini Dietrich | March 24, 2020 | 
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mindset shiftThere is a lot of, shall we say, interesting advice floating around out there.

Everything from “don’t let your team work from home—you’ll never be able to go back to being in an office” to “take on as much debt as you can right now.”

Never mind that five states in the U.S., as of this writing, and several countries worldwide have now instituted “shelter in place” edicts.

You have no choice when it comes to many decisions you may have made differently two weeks ago.

Which makes some of what the experts are spouting just plain, old bad advice.

And it’s not just for those of you who run businesses, either.

Some of these “experts” are saying we’ve faced worse, which isn’t true—at least not in our lifetimes.

Yet others are minimizing the challenge you have if you’re now homeschooling and working from home and navigating the constant changes for yourself or with your clients.

A few days ago, I overheard Mr. D talking to his parents on FaceTime.

They asked how I was and he said:

It’s one thing when one client is in crisis. It’s completely different when they’re all in crisis.

Amen, brother.

You prepare messaging and a plan, you execute it, and everything changes an hour later.

I know some of you are also working 14, 15, 18 hour days on top of it all.

It’s a real conundrum—and it’s a lot.

To boot, some of you may be fearful you’re going to be laid off—or it’s already happened.

These are unprecedented times and unchartered waters.

We’ve not faced worse and come through it.

Not as a world, not as a country, and certainly not as individuals.

Will we get through it? Of course we will!

Will we be unscathed? Nope.

This is rough.

It’s going to get even worse before it gets better.

We don’t yet know where the bottom is so we don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel yet.

And anyone telling you differently is looking at things through rose-colored glasses.

But I also don’t want to make things worse or scare you even more.

A lot of this is scary because we can’t control it (and, for us control freaks, that is a real challenge).

So today we’re going to talk about the things that will get us through this that we CAN control—along with some mindset shifts we can make along the way.

Plan for the Worst. Hope for the Best.

They have said millennials are the first generation ever to experience two global economic crises that will put them on a path to end up financially worse than their parents.

The Great Recession happened as they were graduating from college with the country’s highest unemployment rate in 80 years.

As they’ve finally gotten jobs and begun to create some stability, they should be buying homes and stimulating the economy that way.

Instead, we’re at the start of one of the worst economic crises the world has ever seen. 

During the Great Recession, I was in my early 30s.

I had no business running a business nor managing a team of professionals.

I was incredibly naive and a bit ignorant, too.

While I certainly had paid attention to what the economists were saying,

I had NO IDEA how it would hit my business nor what it meant for the people I worked with.

Today, I’m a bit, um, wiser.

Not so naive to how this can (and will) damage my business.

Not so ignorant to what it’ll do to my team.

I have all sorts of contingency plans in place—if this happens, I’ll do this. If this happens, I’ll do that. And if this happens, well…maybe I’ll start an online bakery or write that novel I’ve always talked about writing.

I’ve planned for the worst and now I’m hoping for the best.

Which is really all we can do.

Plan for the worst. Hope for the best.

Make a Mindset Shift to Get Yourself Through a Crisis

During the aforementioned Great Recession, Dan Sullivan, the founder of Strategic Coach, published an article titled, “The Scary Times Success Manual.”

At the time, he proposed 10 mindset shifts, which I think are as relevant in this moment as they were a decade ago.

  1. Forget about yourself. Focus on others.
  2. Forget about your commodity. Focus on your relationships.
  3. Forget about the sale. Focus on creating value.
  4. Forget about your losses. Focus on your opportunities.
  5. Forget about your difficulties. Focus on your progress.
  6. Forget about the “future”. Focus on your today.
  7. Forget about who you were. Focus on who you can be.
  8. Forget about events. Focus on your responses.
  9. Forget about what’s missing. Focus on what’s available.
  10. Forget about your complaints. Focus on your gratitude.

The only thing you can control is how you react to this—well, that and a clean house as I constantly tell my family, “The only I can control is how clean this house is so chop, chop! Let’s put our stuff away.”

Let’s talk about the 10 mindset shifts Dan Sullivan proposes.

Forget About Yourself. Focus on Others.

It’s kind of hard to NOT focus on others right now, seeing how they’re in your face, constantly, 24/7, with no end in sight.

I jest! I jest!

(Sort of.)

Uncertainty drives people into themselves, which is not good when we’re physically isolated and ordered to stay at home.

I’m an introvert so, up until about a week ago, I joked that I would be fine—this is what I’m made for.

As it turns out, that’s just not true.

I certainly don’t get my energy from people, like extroverts do, but I still need human interaction.

We all do.

Find ways that you can focus on others.

Virtual happy hours with your friends and family do wonders.

We’ve done a lot of that.

We are taking lots and lots and lots of walks—even in 28 degree weather—and we’re calling friends as we pass their homes. They come to the windows and wave.

It’s certainly not the same as meeting our friends for dinner or going to a theme ride at SoulCycle when I’m in a funk or going to the park and making new friends, but it works for now. 

The first mindset shift you can make is to find ways you can focus on others. Don’t retreat into yourself. 

Forget About Your Commodity. Focus on Your Relationships.

We launched the PESO Model Certification with the Newhouse School at Syracuse University two weeks before the sky began to fall.

That was either the worst timing ever—or the best.

Only time will tell.

And, while we’ve certainly put all marketing and promotion on hold for now (except for this mention), it’s challenging not to say, “Hey! Now is the time to invest in professional development, enhance your skills, and learn how to pivot your career.”

It makes sense because we humans become frightened about the viability of the things we sell—and the jobs we hold.

It’s natural and it IS scary to think this might not all be here in six months.

I keep telling myself we’ve built an asset that has value, though it’s highly likely it won’t look the same as it does now.

As you’ve seen from actors and singer/songwriters to software companies and learning apps, those who are focused on the relationships are those who will profit in the long-run.

There are huge lists of free resources for every part of your life, right now.

Laura Petrolino has created a living document on the blog with resources for communicators. 

You can send your kids to online camps that they couldn’t do before.

Zoom is free for classrooms and virtual playdates.

You can attend virtual concerts for free.

Some are even popping onto Instagram or Facebook Live and singing a bit.

It’s pretty incredible, when you stop and really think about it.

The second mindset shift is to focus on relationships, not commodities.

For now.

We can go back to being capitalists in a few months.

Forget About the Sale. Focus on Creating Value.

I was joking with a friend the other day that you had no idea how many emails you were subscribed to until everyone had to tell what their COVID-19 plans are.

I mean, really.

We don’t need to know what the QuickBooks plans are.

Can I still access my books and my register? Yes? OK, then. We’re good.

And forget about the marketing emails that encourage you to spend your money.

Money you likely are worried you won’t have in a couple of months.

But sure! Let me buy something that isn’t a necessity.

A friend of mine posted on Facebook that she received an email that said:

Especially now, amid all the COVID-19 craziness, NOW is the time to take your business online and develop your high-fee, remote coaching, mentoring, and mastermind programs.

Talk about tone deaf.

I agree now is the time to start to consider how you might add revenue streams to your business or to your life.

For sure.

But now is NOT the time to pay someone a premium to teach you how to create a high-fee anything. 

Navigating what’s appropriate and what’s not right now is challenging.

Had I received that email, even if it were from one of my very best friends, it would have been an immediate unsubscribe.

And what bothers me may not bother others and vice versa.

Trying to navigate all of that is not easy.

But people don’t like to be sold to in the best of times.

The third mindset shift is to focus on creating value.

The sales will naturally follow later.

Forget About Your Losses. Focus on Your Opportunities.

This is a really challenging one because we’re human beings.

And it’s difficult to not focus on what we’ve lost.

Right before the Great Recession, I had a tax advisor who stole from the business.

Remember how I said I was naive and a bit ignorant?

Yes. That.

I didn’t realize what had happened until I got a letter from the IRS saying we owed them money.

A lot of money.

Money I thought we had already paid.

And then the economy tanked, the bank called my line of credit, I lost almost everything in my 401K, and I owed the IRS money.

Talk about a shitstorm.

I, for sure, felt sorry for myself at the time and lots and lots of tears were shed.

But then I put my big girl pants on and decided, right then and there, I HAD to learn the financial side of the business.

I was never going to blindly follow a financial advisor again. 

They say a good crisis will necessitate action—and that’s what every one of you will experience in the next few months.

If you’re fearful of losing your job, OK. Come to grips with it and figure out where the opportunity lies.

If you’re fearful of having to close down your business (and, truth be told, that’s where I am), OK. Come to grips with it and figure out where the opportunity lies.

This will not be easy.

It’s far easier to stress about the things we can’t control than to imagine a future that doesn’t yet exist. 

Think about it this way: what can you control right now (a clean house, for instance) and what are some things you could do if given the time and the resources to do them?

The fourth mindset shift is to allow yourself the freedom to imagine a brand, new future.

Forget About Your Difficulties. Focus on Your Progress.

Remember how I said earlier that we haven’t yet hit the bottom of this crisis?

Truly, the hardest part in all of this is we don’t know where the bottom is, which means we don’t have any idea where the light is at the end of the tunnel.

Things are not going to be as they were—probably ever again. 

I love what Dan Sullivan has to say about this particular piece of advice.

He says:

Your body’s muscles always get stronger from working against resistance. The same is true for the “muscles” in your mind, your spirit, and your character.

I’m a cyclist so I love analogies that have to do with exercise.

This one is exactly right.

You can’t build endurance if you don’t work out with resistance.

And you certainly can’t build muscle mass without pushing your limits.

We understand that for our bodies, but not for our brains, which is just silly!

I started an “isolation day” journal on my Facebook page so that I can focus on our progress through this whole thing.

Trust me, it’s day-by-day right now—and that’s OK!

People keep saying we’re all in this together.

That’s not entirely true.

We’re all in this at the same time, which means we all can empathize with one another.

But there are certainly people out there who are better off and those who are worse off.

Focus on you.

Focus on your progress.

Be good to yourself.

If you have a sad day, be sad.

If you have a great day, celebrate. 

The fifth mindset shift is to take it day-by-day, but focus on forward progress.

Do the Best You Can…It Really Is Enough

This is scary.

I know some of you are worried about your family’s income.

Some of you are worried about losing your home or your cars.

Some of you are scared you’re going to lose your businesses.

You might be worried you’ll have to give up the luxuries to which you’ve become accustomed.

Or that you won’t be able to put food on the table.

These are all very natural and fair things to worry about.

And shifting your mindset won’t work every day.

Heck, it may not work every hour.

That’s OK.

Be good to yourself.

Do the best you can.

And give to others when you have the strength and mental capacity to do so.

I’m at nearly 2,500 words here so I’m going to save the last five tips from Dan Sullivan for Thursday.

Check back then and we’ll complete this mini-series.

And, if you’re not already part of the free Spin Sucks community and you need virtual human interaction and support from your peers, come hang out with us!

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.