Today I had a conversation with the leader of an innovative company. They had a really cool technology and counted some well-known organizations as customers. Unfortunately, the pandemic caused their customers deep distress and made their business model unsustainable for the foreseeable future. Though he did everything in his power, he wasn’t able to right the ship. I was struck by how upbeat this leader is. He seems at peace with the fact that the company won’t survive. He’s not dwelling on their bad luck. Instead, he’s making sure his team is treated fairly and has a safe landing.
Sadly, there are far too many of these stories this year; 2020 will go down as one of the most challenging years ever for many founders and other leaders. When you’re in the midst of pain, it can sometimes feel paralyzing. While we’re still grappling with everything that happened this year, it’s important for leaders and team members to remember this: painful periods always pass. Look for the light at the end of the tunnel instead of dwelling on the fact that you’re in a dark tunnel. Tough situations have an end, and you should train your energy on getting to it. Once you’re there, you can take as much time as you want to reflect.
Every founder I know has had to endure bad situations. Over the years, I’ve been humbled by mine. (Some were downright awful.) Each time, I tried to keep a positive attitude and focus on getting through the situation rather than dwell on its dreadfulness. Some of them resolved quickly, while others played out over the better part of a year. Either way, focusing on getting to the end was one of the biggest reasons I was able to weather the storm.
As we approach the end of 2020 and look to an uncertain future, just remember: In the end, it’s going to be OK.