Finding Calm in the COVID-19 Storm
Startups are not only a biggest test of our abilities to execute on a market hunch, but more deeply, the limitations of our own mind. They fully test everything we think we know about ourselves — from our deepest fears to our highest hopes — and most startups fail in the mind first, and the market second.
If you can prepare your mind first for resiliency, you can prepare your business to follow next, and then get your team to follow your lead.
So how do we prepare our minds to be ironclad? I’ll show you what has worked for me. While it may be different from what will work for your exact circumstance, I can only speak from my own experiences.
CLARITY IN JUST 10 MINUTES:
Step 1: Start by putting on some relaxing meditation style music, deep study music a guided meditation (from any app like InsightTimer®, CALM®, Headspace®) or even white noise (available free on YouTube®), and take 10–20 deep breaths. After that you will have a lot of thoughts bouncing around in your head.
Your job is not to remove the thoughts, but rather focus on one word in your head — Relax.
By focusing on this one word, the extraneous thoughts will begin to subside over a few minutes, and your body will feel a sense of peace and clarity. If the word relax doesn’t do it for you, think of another word that does — “Zen, I am at Peace” (phrase), “I am calm” (phrase), etc., — just keep repeating that word or phrase over and over again for a few moments all while deep breathing.
Step 2: After you have calmed down at least 50%, I want you to set an intention and ask yourself an important question. This can be whatever you need to focus on, but have been having a hard time focusing in on. For example — What is the one thing I should be aware of right now? What is the one customer I should focus in on? What is the best business model for this? What is the next thing I should be doing? Who should I hire?
Step 3: As you begin to focus in on this, ideas will come to you. Sometimes they will be in the form of a visualization like a picture, a website, an app, a diagram, or a person. Other times they will be in the form of a textual idea, a phrase, or a thing you should follow up on. Whatever it is, don’t judge it, don’t question it, don’t even think about how it can work or how you can meet that person or even why you are thinking about that. Open your eyes, write it down, and don’t think about it. After 24 hours, go back to your notes, and see what you wrote down. Sometimes the clues are encrypted messages that we can only understand later on, and other times they become clearer with time when we step away to get perspective.
There have been countless times as a founder, where I would be confused as to what user experience I should be designing for my customers. So I would close my eyes and visualize literally being one of my customers, actually visiting our website and walking through the entire ordering experience from first visit, to clicking on the about page, to feeling what they would feel, to clicking on a product, to deciding if I should buy it or not, to going through the entire checkout, to closing my computer and waiting a few days to see how the item arrived. I would then get clues as to where the friction points would be for the customer journey, and these clues would unlock these little magical opportunities that we could build to better service our customers and delight them. Visualization strategies have worked for me, they may or may not work for you, but they are worth a try. The more you practice, the easier it becomes to get into the flow to see your intended path and outcome.
Startup days are like the weather — hard to predict past a few days, dark torrential storms may abound, but eventually, sunlight will emerge to light the way forward, providing that is, you last through the storm.