"In a recession, things are going to happen that your team won't like. You'll have to help them accept and move on, that's your job as a leader. That's easier said than done because acceptance takes skill. Acceptance is the ability to handle reality and it doesn't come naturally. So you need to develop in your people the right mindset. When the time comes, you want to mentally prepare to accept and move on. Here are four things your people need to keep in mind:
- Some things can't be changed.
- Expectations become disappointments.
- It's not about you.
- And many things can't be justified.
Let's work backward.
Things can't be justified. Here's what that means:
- Most things can't be explained. Understanding takes time. Luck is very unpredictable and most outcomes are random. Those are just simple facts of life. Now, hindsight offers people perspective they don't have in a given moment. So, if they're looking for justification, they're probably not going to find it. They don't have the perspective yet. So remind your people their acceptance isn't their agreement. It's not approval and it's not an endorsement. They're just acknowledging the reality of the situation.
Next, it's not about you. Here's what that means:
- In a recession, employees often personalize things that have nothing to do with them. It may affect them, but it's not about them. They didn't cause the situation. They're not being singled out and they're not being treated unfairly. It's hard to accept anything people view as a personal attack. So, you want to help your people take things less personally, set their egos aside and take the emotion out.
Next, expectations become disappointments. Here's what that means:
- Your employees want things to be a certain way. It's called desire. But when desire becomes an expectation, then expectations become overly optimistic, and optimism always gets disappointed. And disappointment is hard to accept. So you want to help people manage their expectations. You don't want them to be pessimistic, you just want them to be realistic. Remember, there are two types of optimism wishful thinking and resilience. Wishful thinking makes it hard, really hard to accept reality. But resilience is the optimism that faces reality. So channel their optimism into more resilient responses.
Final point: some things can't be changed.
- When people struggle to accept reality, they're trying to change reality. And in reality, you can't change reality. Reality is unchangeable. There are two questions you want to ask people: what can you do to change this? And when they say nothing, ask them now what are you going to do about it? That's how you get them to accept and move on.
Now, I deal with a lot of smart, idealistic people. They've overachieved because they wouldn't accept the status quo. And they can hear this advice as "you can't change things, lower your expectations, don't take it personal and follow blindly." And that's not what I'm saying. Acceptance isn't giving in, giving up, or just going along. In a recession, you got to roll with the changes and roll with the punches, the changes you don't like, and the setbacks that feel like punches to the gut.
Acceptance takes skill and discipline. It takes discipline to let reality set in. It takes discipline to ignore the uncontrollable. It takes discipline to keep realistic expectations. It takes discipline to manage emotions, and it takes discipline to accept things you don't like.
If you want to overachieve, you've got to accept and move on faster than your peer group does. If you want to be idealistic, be idealistic about the things that are the way things are, not the way you want things to be.
And if you don't like the status quo, don't fight today's reality, accept it and move on. That's how you create a better reality and that's how you accept today's reality."
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