Six tips for coping when the going gets tough

Ironman coping with pressure
Ironman coping with pressure
Reading time: 5 minutes

Shit happens. That’s life at times. Most people do okay in favourable and fragrant times. But a real test comes along when some smelly stuff hits.

I’ve been dealing with some stinky and un-chosen challenges over the last few weeks. And, without wishing to bend the smelly/shitty metaphor to breaking point, it’s provided a good dose of fertilizer for some personal growth.

I’d like to share some of that nutrient content with you by sharing 6 things that I think have been really helpful through this time.

A little background

I’m one of the team here at PlanetK2.  More importantly, I’m also a husband, a father of two (a daughter, age 8 and a son who turned five last week), a brother to two sisters, a son and a son-in-law.  All fine and good.  Then there’s the stuff that isn’t so fine and good.  In the last few weeks both my sisters have been in hospital. Both pretty serious. I won’t go into detail, but it’s pretty crappy for one of them and really seriously crappy for the other.  Also a few weeks ago, my wife’s father appeared to start knocking on death’s door. He lives in Australia. So, at very short notice, my wife flew off to be with her Dad.  Two kids, school Easter holidays approaching, a demanding job, a home to run, a 5 year olds birthday party to put on, and wanting to support my sisters.

Here are six ways I applied the performance pie to help:

1. TACTICAL: Know what plates to stop spinning

Quite simply I’ve not been able to do everything, so I’ve made a conscious choice to not do some things. This meant I reduced my short-term demands. I’ve cleared my diary of some work. This felt a bit selfish, but I needed to do what was most important.

2. EMOTIONAL: Ask for and accept support

I’m usually rubbish at his. I tend to disconnect, become isolated and think I can deal with things on my own. That’s my natural reaction. Daft muppet! I’ve had a word with myself. I’ve welcomed lots of help from another family member, some friends and my colleagues.

3. PHYSICAL: Take care of myself

If I’d stopped exercising I’d be in a worse mood. If I’d eaten badly I’d have had less energy. So I’ve made sure I’ve made plenty of good choices around exercise, food and rest every day. I could have done even better here, but I am human!

4. MENTAL: Be 100% present

I found about my father-in-law halfway through delivering a faculty day for The Marketing Academy. That night we sorted out a flight for my wife to Australia. The following day I took her to the airport. The day after that it was my son’s 5th birthday party.

Staying in the moment has been vitally important in helping me do the things I needed to do for the 12 people at the faculty day, then my wife and then my son and his friends. If I’d been in one place, but thinking about what was going on in another, the last few weeks would have been a lot messier.

Each time I noticed my mind drifting, I took a few deep breaths, re-centred, re-focused and stayed present. This hasn’t just happened by accident. I’ve been practising this skill for nearly 30 years, since I was an athlete. Sometimes I don’t do it so well, but over the last few weeks I’ve been pleased with how I’ve maintained my focus.

5. CONTROL the controllable

Now is not the time for dwelling on stuff that’s already happened or out of my control. Focus on the controllable and crack on. Other small stuff has gone wrong in the last couple of weeks. When it has I am aware of the petulant, irritable version of me bubbling up. Once again, a few deep breaths, re-centre, and choose how I want to respond. Simple, not easy.

6. CONFIDENCE in the recipe

I’ve not had the luxury of having the time I’d usually put in to preparing for work. However, over the years I’ve gradually built up a robust confidence in my recipe and my capability. This means I can “wing it” without it being anything like winging it. I’ve not tried anything new (which I enjoy doing) through this time; I’ve stuck to the tried and tested.

The outcomes

  • My wife was able to focus on supporting her Dad. When she spoke to home she had a happy, loving family to talk to.
  • My son had a good birthday party. None of his friends left here with injuries or food poisoning, just smiles on their faces (and party bags!).
  • I got some wonderful feedback from the marketing leaders about the session.
  • I remained in good shape physically. A bit tired at times, but healthy.
  • I feel more connected to the PlanetK2 team. They’ve been extraordinarily supportive and, as a result, I feel more motivated than ever to do my best for them and for our business.
  • I’ve written this blog. Something I don’t do often enough. I didn’t intend to, no one made me, but I wanted to. I thought it might help others deal with challenging times. I thought it might help a few more people to turn shit into fertilizer.

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