Companies go through ups and downs. Business environment fluctuates, people come and go. Every now and then you get to a situation that feels like everyone on your team is leaving or worse is just mentally checked out. What now? How do you stay motivated in such environment, and more importantly what can you realistically do to turn things around?
Crisis breeds opportunity
First of all, any crisis is a breeding ground for opportunities. In fact, one could argue that the best things always grow out of necessity. Necessity is the mother of invention because when you struggle for resources you get more creative. As I wrote in How Lack Of Resources Forces Innovation you learn to do with whatever you’ve got. When you don’t have a choice, you learn to step up. When people around you are leaving that opens all sorts of opportunities. The direct ones, like your boss leaving thus someone needs to replace him. Or the indirect ones, when your more experience colleague leaves so you have to step in and mentor new members of the team, make technical decisions, get more visibility, or learn to communicate better. With less people on the team it often also means you learn to work under pressure, you build more resistance, your work is suddenly much more critical, and you learn to prioritize.
Focus on positives
When you look at the list above, and I’m sure you can extend it significantly, you realize that regardless of how the situation looks from the outside there are also the positives. At least for you personally. It is only up to you how you handle the challenge, and how you decide to think and feel about it. By focusing on the positive aspects you can build an incredibly powerful internal drive, marshal your energy and at the end come out as a winner.
It is always important to focus on things you can influence. Ignore whether the guy sitting next to you leaves or not. It is his life and his choice. There is no need you should feel bad about it. It also doesn’t mean that you should make the same choice. In fact, it doesn’t even mean that he made the right choice. Maybe yes, maybe no. However, that is irrelevant. You should focus on what you can impact. The one thing you can influence is your own future. Just be dispassionate about it. Leave the emotions at the door and look at things without bias. What are your professional and life goals? How are these being satisfied? If the math checks out and you see that in reality nothing is wrong, then it is just about how you feel about the situation. And once again, how we feel about a certain thing is completely under our control. Two people can look at the same thing and feel very differently about it. The reality is the same, but the interpretation of the reality is very different. Just decide to feel good about the reality and you will be fine. You can read more about positivity in Positive Approach To Life.
I understand that feeling all happy in a group of people who frown all the time is not particularly easy. So what can you do about it? A great start is to focus on what is going right and celebrate successes and small wins. There is always something that goes fine, so it is just a question to attract everyone’s attention to it. By providing positive encouragement, appreciating what people have, talking about small wins you can gradually turn everyone’s attention towards what is positive in the project, the company, the world. Human brain has an incredible capacity for self-deception and when it focuses on something, it sees it everywhere. If your attention is constantly on positive things then the brain will focus on it and find positives in all areas of your life. For a bit more on the topic check out Human Brain, The Biggest Liar Of All Times and a great “yellow car example” in You Are A Leader, Not A Messenger. Act Like It!
If the emotional drain from the people around you who just refuse to see anything positive on the situation is too big then you may consider finding someone who has not decided to constantly ruin his life and the lives of people around him – a newbie. Chances are that even in a team that goes through rough times there will be someone who is new, or relatively new, and thus not infected by the negativistic people yet. Focusing on this person, taking him under your mentorship, spending as much time with him as possible and keep presenting him with your view of the world will help you both. He or she will benefit from your knowledge, guidance and protection. You, at the other hand will benefit by being around someone positive who wants to be here, who wants to learn and succeed. Plus, you are getting the opportunities of mentoring experience mentioned above.
Chances are that there are also other people on your team or the teams around who have also chosen to stay positive. Being around people like this is a great way to keep your sanity and will help you to stay positive and get things done.
Never flee from something only because others do
And how do you know that the time has come for you to be somewhere else? I would reiterate what I mentioned above. You should consider things on merit not on emotions. And you should never flee from what you don’t like, but rather march towards what you want.
Have you ever been to a situation that everyone around you was leaving? What was your strategy on maintaining your sanity and motivation and were you able to use the situation to your advantage?
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