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The way you think about what you think about is far more important than what you think about

Apr 06, 2020

Got the time

The situation we find ourselves in will continue for the foreseeable future so we have two choices: to feel hopeless, anxious and adrift or to be bold, step up and make what we can of it all.

These are unprecedented times. This is brand new to all of us and discombobulation is probably a very common feeling. However, rather than continue to feel like things are spiralling downwards beyond your control, anchor yourself in the here and now; use the time to think about what you want to achieve.

Unless a key worker or working from home, you will have a lot of spare time on your hands. The question is, how will you choose to use it? Will you get to the end of all this and have ticked off a list, achieved a big goal or maybe whiled away the hours going through boxset after boxset?

How many times do we wish we had spare time to sit and be, to reflect on our life so far and to think about what we want for our future? Rather than rushing here, there and everywhere, the hamster wheel for many has ceased to turn. That time to think, reflect and plan is here. So, use it, why abuse it?

A halt may have been brought to many planned activities, events and work projects but perversely in all this, many safe at home (note: I did not say ‘stuck at home’ – let’s reframe that mindset), now have the gift of time so can be creative and innovative to plan new things. I almost feel there’s a duty to use this time wisely because there are those keyworkers out there on the frontline, doing what they do to keep everyone safe, at the risk of their own safety. And yet, if we at home squander this time, I personally feel it is an insult to them. Who knows, we may come out of this realising new dreams, innovating new designs, creating a business, stronger connections, better relationships, all because we used this time to achieve greater things.

Using the power of the now

The ethos of Angela Duckworth’s book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance is that to be gritty means you have both the determination to continue to do something even when people tell you it’s hard and to also have a sense of purpose and direction on one project – to see it to its completion. No matter what life may throw at us, with grit and resilience, you’re determined and focused to see it through.

We require grit and resilience by the bucket load at the moment; they’re what will get us through these times with our mental health intact. It’s important to recognise that this is a whole new normal for us and it seems to have come about so quickly. One minute we hear of a virulent virus in China, it seems to sweep across Europe, social distancing is introduced and before we know it, lockdown is imposed. We’ve needed to get our heads around a lot in a short space of time – working from home, home-schooling, many have lost their job, or their business has folded; over 70’s are advised to stay at home for 12 weeks, essential travel only for us all, only one form of exercise outside a day. Then there are the aforementioned keyworkers who are dedicated to the cause – who are stepping up, without whom, where would we be? It’s OK not to feel OK about all of this, but it’s not OK to stay that way. Feelings of anxiety, worry and frustration need to be acknowledged and processed but long-term, they don’t serve us well. That’s when we need to reframe those thought patterns.

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.Winston Churchill

It all comes down to mindset. To get our heads around this most surreal of situations, it’s important to think about the way we think about it all. And there is so much evidence of grit and resilience, of innovation and creativity. Manufacturers pivoting and changing what they produce to now providing key medical equipment and supplies, restaurants becoming much-needed farm shops in the community, businesses looking at how their services can be online or delivery focused; Facebook groups set up to give parents and carers ideas of how to entertain children at home; Zoom, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp video and FaceTime being used in abundance. We have needed to adapt quickly and by jingo, we’re doing it.

Grit, resilience and perseverance prevail and the way this continues is to keep our mindset in check and choose to consciously think about the way we are thinking about this situation.

The Winning Edge was conceived over three decades ago and is still so relevant in these times. Now more than ever, understanding that we alone choose the nature of our thoughts, thus our feelings, behaviours and therefore resulting in our habits, is powerful stuff. Powerful and empowering. Yes, there are lighthouses in life and COVID-19 is one almighty lighthouse, but we can be resilient and resourceful enough to overcome it.

In my daughter’s primary school they have ‘Learning Behaviours’ such as Team-working T-Rex, Ambitious Ant, Risk-taking Rhino and Resilient Robins. I think it’s great children are already being introduced to how important their attitude and mindset are – this should be an essential part of the curriculum – globally! How amazing would it be if we lived in a world where we were surrounded by Resilient Robins who know their life choices are all down to the thoughts they choose to have.

How are you choosing to think about things right now? What kind of person do you want to be on the other side of all this? We can keep ourselves small through worry and anxiety or, we can work through those thoughts and feelings and step into the space and be bold, have confidence and lead others through the confusion. The choice my friend is all yours.

COVID-19: Mindset Videos

Check out our Winning Edge YouTube Channel, where you'll find my series of videos, where I will explore the importance of our mindset during these challenging times and share top tips on how to manage your thinking, to feel more resilient and in control. 

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