To say we are living in uncertain times is a massive understatement. We’ve been through wars before, we’ve experienced 9/11 and the global financial crisis. We’ve lived through periods of tremendous change and turmoil in the world, and at various moments in the history of society when no one could predict what would happen next.
But the level of fear and uncertainty we are currently witnessing is unprecedented. We see it on people’s faces, we hear it in their voices, and, now that we are all in our homes, with little real connection with each other, we are witnessing it on social media. We are scared of being hurt, we are scared of the economy, we are scared of not being in control, and now we are even scared of each other.
Fear is a natural human instinct. It’s our 2-million-year-old brain that is designed to protect ourselves in the moment, for the sake of survival. It’s always looking for what’s wrong, so you can fight, run away from threat, or freeze. But if you do one of these three things every time you are fearful, or have pain, you’re going to be constantly fighting, running away, or stopping and putting your life on hold. And that is no way to live.
Look, every day we drive down a highway with nothing but a painted yellow line dividing you from cars that are hurling headfirst towards you at 70 miles per hour. You know that every single day people cross that line. They kill innocent people just like yourself on the other side of it.
And you also know that a certain percentage of those drivers are drunk. You also know some are texting. Some are falling asleep. Those are facts. Every single day this happens all over the world. In fact, 1.4 million people will die in car accidents each year around the world. That's more than 3,200 a day.
And yet we still get in our cars and drive. Why? Because of another “f” word that is 100 times more powerful than fear. FAITH.
Faith is not learned, it’s something we are born with. Faith is what fuels us through times of fear and uncertainty. It is more powerful than any emotion, even fear. When all hell is breaking loose, it gives us the ability to find our center, to help ourselves and others to find answers, to find a higher meaning in the midst of our pain and in spite of our fear. And if you’re a leader, you take that certainty and transfer it into others, because human conviction has a viral effect and will spread. You bring unwavering certainty to chaotic environments through the power of your faith.
Faith is knowing that at our core we're more than anything we will ever face, and we can handle whatever life brings us. We always have and we always will. That is the power of the human race.
Human beings are unique from other species in that we have the ability to control our behavior, to train ourselves to be emotionally fit and create an inner strength, a psychology of resilience. One failure does not mean we stop trying. Animals don’t have this! Anyone who has ever trained a dog knows this well. They experience one, maybe two “failures” and they’ve learned their lesson, they won’t try again. We are the opposite; we are eternal optimists. We fail, and then we try again.
Just look at some of the most successful companies in the world today. Most of their founders and leaders experienced massive failure – many times over – before they were successful. Think about some of the happiest, most connected couples you know. Chances are, each one of them “failed” at relationships in the past, but did they give up? No. They learned, they adapted, they grew, and they started over.
The beautiful gift of being human is that we're resilient as a species. We're adaptable by nature. This won’t be the only crisis this world will ever go through, and it won’t be the only crisis any one of us ever goes through, and it certainly won’t be the only crisis that anyone we love ever goes through. People are shaped not by how things go when things are going well; people’s lives are shaped by the most difficult times.
We have a resourcefulness inside ourselves that says no matter what happens in life, who I am is bigger than anything that could ever happen to me or anyone I love. No problem is permanent, and nothing that happens is pervasive.
Life is both pain and pleasure, both opportunity and challenge, both birth and death. There is a season and a time for everything, and it’s not for us to decide what the right season is, or which season we should be in. It’s our job to embrace the season that’s been given to us.
In this uncomfortable moment, it feels a lot like winter, doesn’t it? Everyone is isolated in their homes, trying to protect themselves from the cold and stay warm. And, for many people, it’s the season of boredom. Schools and restaurants are closed, social events are on hold, office workers are homebound and for those who are out in the world, like healthcare workers, there is a feeling of trepidation, of dangerous exposure.
But as Nobel Prize-winning philosopher Albert Camus once said, “In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”
Winter doesn’t last forever. Spring always follows. We will spring back to normal life, like we always do, like we’ve done for centuries. And when we do, will you be prepared? Are you trained for future challenges? It’s been said; The meeting of preparation and opportunity generates the offspring we call luck. In every crisis lies opportunity. People who are successful are not lucky; they are just prepared for opportunities that come their way. Anticipation is power.
So, what are you going to do during this winter season? Are you going to sit back in boredom? Or, maybe out of that boredom, join the fearful crowds, magnifying meaning and exaggerating risk to the point where there is only the worst-case scenario? Will you create disempowering emotions and bring yourself and others down? Or will you discipline your fears, stand guard at the door of your mind, rise to the challenge that is facing us, and adopt beliefs that empower you?
Regardless of what's happening around you, there is a part of you that’s strong. Call on that part of you. The part of you that’s hungry. The part of you that is courageous in the face of unfathomable fear. The part of you that won’t put up with excuses, smallness and bullshit. Call that part of you forth – call that part of you to step up to become what you were MADE for.
It’s been said; “what you practice in private that you will be rewarded for in public”. This is your private time, this is your time for training, for practice, to prepare for what’s ahead. If your health is less than you’d like it to be, focus on improving that. If your relationships have become stagnant or distant, use this time to reconnect with your loved ones. Business owners, sit down and take the time to work ON your business, to strategize, to envision the business that you need to become in order to succeed in the new environment. Make your map. Plan. Learn. Grow.
Because I guarantee you, winter will end, and when it does, you will emerge so far ahead of everyone else who has not used this time as efficiently as you that it will feel like you finished miles ahead. You will leapfrog past your peers, past your competitors. You will have taken your life to the next level.
No matter where you are in the world, no matter how much time you have or don’t have, you can always work on yourself.
And remember: It's time to become conscious of your power and remind yourself and all those around you the human race is resilient, flexible, and strong beyond imagination. Lead, don’t follow. Discover ways to innovate, to create and to give and support others who may not see past the winter. Lead with the truth of our essence, that faith and certainty, our natural birthright and our abilities, can be awoken. This ability can be activated, so live the truth today around everyone you're around. Then we can solve any problem we face. The human race always has, and it always will.
So live strong. Live with faith. Live with passion. And God bless.