What we are going through as a nation and a world is completely unprecedented in our lifetime. Other than finding reputable advice on COVID-19 from the CDC and WHO, we are all looking to one another for support to create a daily road map for this uncharted territory we are all traversing with high anxiety. Everyday, we are stuck wondering how we will get through this experience and questioning if we are making the right decisions or not. It is nervewracking. I know these feelings well, as I endured them for more than a year after the onset of PTSD back in 2016.
"Be gentle with yourself" means, you have to let sh*t go and remind yourself that you are already doing your best against all odds.
It is commonly known among mental health professionals and trauma victims that feeling powerless and unsafe in stressful situations can re-traumatize those who have experienced trauma in the past. In January, my husband was away on a business trip, so I was the only parent at home watching over the children. The overwhelming feeling of their protection at night being solely on my shoulders re-traumatized me, causing temporary paralysis while trying to sleep. As part of my goal to survive this awful global pandemic, I am striving to avoid re-traumatization, so that I can continue to run my business, homeschool my kids, tend to my own needs, and play an active role in my community. If I can do it, I know we all can. Here are my tips for staying calm and being resilient when we do not know what the future holds.
Take Back Your Power
I talk about this a lot on my Instagram TV channel because this is one of the best defense mechanisms for when you are panicking. Anxiety often springs from not having control over a thing or situation and ruminating on what could be. Most of those things that could be will not be in our control, so make a list of what you can control instead. Maybe it's what you decide to buy (or order) from the grocery store or how you set up your new daily routine. As you start to take more control over your day-to-day life, your anxiety will start to subside because you have strengthened your ability to stay in the moment.
Be Gentle With Yourself
Should you breathe? Yes. Should you take time to be alone or re-connect with others virtually as needed? Sure. But what about the self-imposed rules and burdens we put on ourselves based on our own high standards? My coping mechanisms have always been perfectionism and trying to control everything. "Be gentle with yourself" means, you have to let sh*t go and remind yourself that you are already doing your best against all odds. Did the kids watch TV for half of the day during the quarantine while you were working? So be it. You had a glass of wine on Wednesday when you typically wait until "Thirsty Thursdays"? Let it go and savor that sip. Now is a time to celebrate small wins. Be happy you have a TV and wine to drink!
Being vulnerable is not a sign of weakness, it can be a sign of strength when you are willing to share that vulnerability with the people around you.
Read A Self-care Book
Space yourself from the pandemic news. When I was trying to prevent a downward spiral back in 2017, I started reading a book called 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do and it was one of the best resources I've ever had. I read it like I was back in college, underlining words of wisdom and taking the quizzes to understand my weaknesses and how I could turn them around. Currently, I am reading The Wisdom Of No Escape by American Buddhist nun Pema Chodron. Ironically, I was drawn to this book weeks ago, not knowing I would be quarantined with a 6-year-old and 5-year-old who would need to be homeschooled while I ran my public relations agency. Needless to say, I have definitely been meditating with my children every morning and reminding myself to find the joy in the little things these days to keep us all sane!
Know When To Ask For Help
It is okay to be vulnerable at times and ask for help or even just tell people that you are at your lowest low. Being vulnerable is not a sign of weakness, it can be a sign of strength when you are willing to share that vulnerability with the people around you. For a long time, I never wanted any help from anyone. But a few years ago I realized just how bad of an idea that was. Now, by letting people in, sharing my struggles, and asking friends and family for support, I have become a much stronger person — a better leader, mother, friend, and wife.
Laugh And Have Fun
My kids constantly remind me that I could learn to have a little more fun in life. We all know laughing is good for the soul. Stream your favorite comedy, catch up on some movies, watch ridiculous viral videos on social media. Watch this video of a fun-loving citizen in Spain on lockdown leaving his house in a T-Rex costume. (Seriously, it's the laugh we all need right now!) I love playing dress-up with different colored wigs and have gotten my kids involved now too, which helps make an ordinary day stuck at home extraordinary and full of giggles.
This article was originally published March 19, 2020.
- How How Has the Pandemic Triggered PTSD - Swaay ›
- The Ultimate Guide On How To Boost Your Immune System ›
- Opinion | The Coronavirus Mental Health Crisis Hits Home - The ... ›
- Coronavirus: How to protect your mental health - BBC News ›
- 5 Powerful Exercises To Increase Your Mental Strength ›
- 3 Exercises That Build Mental Strength in Just 5 Minutes ... ›
- 18 Powerful Ways to Build Your Mental Toughness | Inc.com ›
"How did you ever get into a business like that?" people ask me. They're confounded to hear that my product is industrial baler wire—a very unfeminine pursuit, especially in 1975 when I founded my company in the midst of a machismo man's world. It's a long story, but I'll try to shorten it.
I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up—even if it involved a non-glamorous product. I'd been fired from my previous job working to become a ladies' clothing buyer and was told at my dismissal, "You just aren't management or corporate material." My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.
Over the years, I've learned quite a few tough lessons about how to successfully run a business. Below are five essential elements to keep in mind, as well as my story on how I learned them.
Find A Need And Fill It
I gradually became successful at selling various products, which unfortunately weren't profitable enough to get me off the ground, so I asked people what they needed that they couldn't seem to get. One man said, "Honey, I need baler wire. Even the farmers can't get it." I saw happy dollar signs as he talked on and dedicated myself to figuring out the baler wire industry.
I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up.
Now forty-five years later, I'm proud to be the founder of Vulcan Wire, Inc., an industrial baler wire company with $10 million of annual sales.
Have Working Capital And Credit
There were many pitfalls along the way to my eventual success. My daughters and I were subsisting from my unemployment checks, erratic alimony and child-support payments, and food stamps. I had no money stashed up to start up a business.
I paid for the first wire with a check for which I had no funds, an illegal act, but I thought it wouldn't matter as long as I made a deposit to cover the deficit before the bank received the check. My expectation was that I'd receive payment immediately upon delivery, for which I used a rented truck.
Little did I know that this Fortune 500 company's modus operandi was to pay all bills thirty or more days after receipts. My customer initially refused to pay on the spot. I told him I would consequently have to return the wire, so he reluctantly decided to call corporate headquarters for this unusual request.
My stomach was in knots the whole time he was gone, because he said it was iffy that corporate would come through. Fifty minutes later, however, he emerged with a check in hand, resentful of the time away from his busy schedule. Stressed, he told me to never again expect another C.O.D. and that any future sale must be on credit. Luckily, I made it to the bank with a few minutes to spare.
Know Your Product Thoroughly
I received a disheartening phone call shortly thereafter: my wire was breaking. This horrible news fueled the fire of my fears. Would I have to reimburse my customer? Would my vendor refuse to reimburse me?
My customer told me to come over and take samples of his good wire to see if I might duplicate it. I did that and educated myself on the necessary qualities.
My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.
Voila! I found another wire supplier that had the right specifications. By then, I was savvy enough to act as though they would naturally give me thirty-day terms. They did!
More good news: My customer merely threw away all the bad wire I'd sold him, and the new wire worked perfectly; he then gave me leads and a good endorsement. I rapidly gained more wire customers.
Anticipate The Dangers Of Exponential Growth
I had made a depressing discovery. My working capital was inadequate. After I purchased the wire, I had to wait ten to thirty days for a fabricator to get it reconfigured, which became a looming problem. It meant that to maintain a good credit standing, I had to pay for the wire ten to thirty days before my customers paid me.
I was successful on paper but was incredibly cash deprived. In other words, my exponentially growing business was about to implode due to too many sales. Eventually, my increasing sales grew at a slower rate, solving my cash flow problem.
Delegate From The Bottom Up
I learned how to delegate and eventually delegated myself out of the top jobs of CEO, President, CFO, and Vice President of Finance. Now, at seventy-eight years old, I've sold all but a third of Vulcan's stock and am semi-retired with my only job currently serving as Vice President of Stock and Consultant.
In the interim, I survived many obstacles and learned many other lessons, but hopefully these five will get you started and help prevent some of you from having the same struggles that I did. And in the end, I figured it all out, just like you will.