How to never give up despite the worst times in business

This is a very personal and vulnerable article about never giving up and finding a path through setbacks and disappointments that are inevitable in the course of going for a vision and your dreams being fulfilled.  I also include some powerful lessons, practices and tools for you to employ for yourself.

I deal with setbacks too

I’m passionate about what I do – but despite my experience, setbacks do occur even for me and I have to deal with them.

It is not easy sometimes, but despite some of the challenges that have arisen in the last few weeks during the launch of our Conscious Business Leaders Program, I keep going back to our mission statement to get re-inspired.

Our Cahaya Mind Mission:

“We are in the business of making breakthroughs alive and real for business owners. Increasing innovation, possibility and creativity – Leaving a world we are proud of for generations to come.”

Because of all the thousands of business owners we’ve helped and the millions of people our clients have impacted since 1991, we are truly having a positive ripple effect in the world, leaving it a better place than we found it.

This positive impact makes all the challenges worth it.

This week’s article is about the challenges that came up as we were launching our program and what I did to keep myself from staying in disappointment for too long. I hope it supports you in your business and ultimately in your journey through life’s inevitable ups and downs.

1.  The proverbial #$% hits the fan.

So, I stared at my current marketing launch excel sheet for about 1 hour.  The number under total sales did not change despite my staring and my disbelief.

My Worst Business Nightmare Comes True

The number on my marketing launch excel sheet read Zero, 0, Kosong (in the Malay language), Cero, Null, ling-ling (Chinese), shoony (Hindi)…

Despondency, disbelief, resistance, upset, fear, anxiety, death, anger, defensiveness, embarrassment all arose at the same time.

A Big Fat Zero

Zero despite several successful six figure marketing launches in the past. Zero despite getting coaching from the best in marketing out there. Zero despite all the marketing research I did.

Well… phew… what do I do now?

Call my coach? – I did that and even he was perplexed and gave me some suggestions which I could not hear very well.

Wanting to Disappear

I still just wanted to crawl into a cave, shoot myself and have all memory of myself erased from historical and genetic records.

Well. It wasn’t that bad, but it was close enough. Stress level was about 9 out of 10 (close to what Linda Blair felt in the movie “The Exorcist”).

I thought of going back to the people I declined for the coaching program and offer them a cheaper deal – I saw the desperation creep in.

I said to myself – “Phew.. well this is a doozey Sunil.. how are we going to recover from this?”

I answered myself. “Well.. how would you coach someone like me?”

I heard my baritone James Earl Jones voice come back “Go through the five stages of transformation!” (translate “Come to the Bright Side Luke” for you Star Wars fans).

2.  The lessons, practices and tools for you

I now hear your voice coming to me. “Sunil.. what the heck are the five stages?”

A.   Stage One:  Awareness

This tool is from Daniel Siegel. It incorporates an acronym : SIFT standing for Sensations, Images, Feelings, Thoughts.

Using this tool does something remarkable in the brain called interoception – simply put it enables the brain to integrate functionally better with the rest of your being and body. So I accounted for each one of these: What sensations were going on in my body? What images in my mind? What feelings? What thoughts?

I wrote these down as was my habit entrained in me from 1991 (back then we did a different version of this).

I felt my stress go down a notch. I started feeling a little better.

B.  Stage Two:   Normalization

I continued SIFTing until my stress went down to about a level 5.

I also noticed the pull to make myself wrong and instead of trying to change it, I knew better.

Observation vs Making Yourself Wrong

I continued to observe the pull. When you observe rather than force change, your brain works better to come up with creative solutions rather than default to survival based reactions e.g. making yourself wrong.

Stress went down to about a level 4.

C. Stage Three: Create or Re-create a Compelling Future Vision

Next I re-read my mission and felt a little better. I asked myself “Are you going to crawl into a cave and be a mouse or are you going to be your mission?”

A small part of me squeaked “Mouse. Cave. Nice. Why not?”

A bigger part of me said “Vision. No brainer. Shut up mouse.”

Next I reframed my failure as a setback and as an opportunity for the future.

Crawl into a Cave or Eat Ice cream?

1.  I went over the options that I had to resolve the situation and came up with 10 possible solutions.

2.  I wrote each solution (one of which was “To do nothing. Crawl into a cave, eat ice cream and watch Hogan’s Heros re-runs on TV”) on a separate piece of paper and on each paper wrote down the pros and cons for each solution.

3.  I let the solutions sit in my mind for a day or two, got a massage, watched some soccer, read, relaxed and watched a lot of comedy.

Stress went down to a level 3.

D.  Stage Four:  Create Goals and Systems to Make this Compelling Future Real

Next: I picked the solutions that made the most sense and set up systems and accountability (Called Bill my business partner, got together with Chinh my VP-extraordinaire of Creative Marketing, almost cried in relief with my wife Glenda, and talked briefly with my coach Chris) to get things going – created promises, created goals, new practices and new systems to move me forward.

E.   Stage Five:  Strong Accountability and Execution (Follow through) to Future Being Realized

Creating promises and then managing these promises with consistency is what keeps me out of my head now and focused squarely on the future. Every day I email my promises to my team to help me stay on track.

I feel a lot better – there is less fog in the head and only a driving determination to make this world a better place for generations to come. What a great game to play!

Stress level is about a 2.

I hope this helps you. As for me, please do not feel sorry – I am recovered and moving forward.

Forgiving Ourselves

As for you, do not worry, the universe is a forgiving one – it is we humans who are less forgiving but we are good learners and we can learn not only to forgive ourselves for our failures but to move past them into a future that is much stronger, enlivening and bright.

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Author Sunil

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  • Paul Farah says:

    Hello Sunil,

    Thank you for sharing your anxieties and personal experience in addressing them by applying SIFT; this article is inspirational and a great model to follow.

    I also received great value from your recent webinar, “How to Negotiate, Handle Fear and Own your Power”, and will stay tuned for your upcoming sessions to attend as time permits.

    I look forward to meeting you in person sometime soon.


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