Episode 222- How to Survive and Thrive During Hard Times
Steve Shallenberger: Welcome to the Becoming Your Best podcast, wherever you may be in the world today. This is Steve Shallenberger, your host, and we are grateful to have you with us today! It’s a privilege and an honor that you would take the time to join us. The title of today’s podcast is, “How To Survive And Thrive During Hard Times” – there’s no doubt that this has been on my mind and the entire world’s mind as we’ve been dealing with this terrible crisis, the Coronavirus, but it’s also a time to reflect upon it’s not just limited to this. As we go through our experience in life, there have been other hard times; not one of us escapes perhaps deeply personal hard times. So, this is dedicated to you.
As part of the thinking of this, this is the first day of spring right now, as we’re talking, and the amount of sunlight will incrementally increase until the first day of the summer. The vernal equinox marks the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator – this is the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator from south to north, and this happens on March 19th, 20th, and 21st every year in the Northern Hemisphere. That’s exactly where we’re at right now. And really, in the midst of this crisis, I’m grateful to have spring coming.
I love all the seasons of the year, but I especially love springtime. It’s a time of new beginnings, it’s a time of rebirth. Easter is around the corner. Spring has so much symbolism and there will be a time of rebirth coming out of this particular crisis right now, out of the Coronavirus. It seems dark and heavy, but there will be springtime. One of my favorite songs is a primary song I learned as a little boy, that reminds me of springtime; it’s called The Popcorn Song. Actually, the name of it is “Popcorn Popping”. Some of you may know it. It goes like this:
I looked out the window, and what did I see?
Popcorn popping on the apricot tree!
Spring has brought me such a nice surprise,
Blossoms popping right before my eyes.
I could take an armful and make a treat,
A popcorn ball that would smell so sweet.
It wasn’t really so, but it seemed to be
Popcorn popping on the apricot tree.
For some reason, this seems like a happier, upbeat, lighter, more joyous time of year. It couldn’t have come at a more perfect time! And as we go through the Coronavirus or hard times, like any deeply personal crisis, there will be springtime. Just like there are things that you can do to prepare for springtime as you come out of the cold of the winter, depending on where you live in the world, there are things that you can do now, to not only find the good in the season that you are in now – like stay-in-shelter – but what are the things that you can do to prepare for the blossoming of the flowers?
So, what are things that you can do during this devastating crisis to make the best of this experience, to be determined to maintain our happiness, health, and vitality, while at the same time preparing for springtime or when we come out of this virus crisis or when we are in a hard time in life?
So, today, I would like to suggest five things that you can do to survive and thrive during hard times. Let me just give you a quick overview of the five, and then we’ll just take a moment on each one of them.
- Stay focused on your personal Vision, your Annual Goals and Pre-Week Planning -this is your compass that will help you keep going in the right direction.
- Maintain upbeat, uplifting influences in your life.
- Have faith.
- Serve others.
- What can you learn? How can you be betteras a resultof these experiences?
Well, let’s hit number one. Stay focused on your personal Vision, Goals, and Pre-Week Planning. These three powerful principles and processes are like a compass and will help you keep your footing about you, stay anchored to all the things that will see you through and refresh you. These basic power principles will give you guidance and direction and help you to maintain a higher level of performance and productivity, whether you are working alone at home or working together, still, in a work environment. Vision, Annual Goals – you may need to edit them a bit in a severe crisis or in hard times – and Pre-Week Planning will help you do consistently what matters most. This compass will help you to make important adjustments to stay on track in life.
So, for example, here’s a vision: “I am fit and healthy”. This is just one part of your vision that you have outlined by your roles; this one happens to be for personal, right? Well, that’s a powerful vision, you’re placing ideas in your mind that have an enormous impact! The annual goal that you may have worked on, again, by your roles, is to exercise five times a week and have seven to eight hours of sleep. So now, we’re moving down this funnel, if you will, of informing our mind of “Here’s the vision, the direction, here’s specifically what we’re going to do.” And now, pre-week planning allows us to think about each one of these roles. We sit back, take a few minutes during the weekend, plan out our week – and it’s more important now than ever; when there are difficult times, this is when we have the greatest benefit – that is, “What will we do?” and “When will we do it?”, especially in the context of the overall picture. So, “I will exercise five times”, and I look at my schedule – pre-week planning – Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. These are so good, so powerful!
One of the things I like is this great quote by Henry David Thoreau, “As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” Well, this is exactly what having the Vision, the Annual Goals and doing Pre-Week Planning accomplishes. It helps create this deep pathway of doing the right things, the powerful things in our lives that allow us to do what matters most.
I might add, for those that are interested and don’t have one already, the Becoming Your Best Planner is literally a compass for you. It coaches you on developing a personal vision and goals and doing your pre-week planning. It sets up the pathway for you – the template if you will – and it is one of the least expensive investments you will ever make for yourself and provide one of the greatest impacts in your life. So, we have, of course, dated 2020 planners that are available, and since we are a few months into the year, we would like to make those available to you for 50% off. Just write to us at email@example.com and we will take care of you. I give you the Shallenberger Guarantee that this added value to your life will make a big difference! And if it doesn’t, we’ll refund you the modest investment that you make, and the shipping as well. This is just a bonus from this podcast today. I just want to make it available to you. It’ll help you as a compass.
I like what St. Francis of Assisi said – this is over 500 years ago – “Start by doing what’s necessary then do what’s possible; and suddenly, you are doing the impossible.” Well, that is exactly what happens. That’s number one. Number two is, maintain upbeat, uplifting influences in your life. Upbeat and positive books – like hardcopy or e-book or audibles – podcasts, educational programs, music, movies, friends and family, all can have a big impact upon us, our attitudes, our feelings, our motivation, our inspiration. Study after study, using state of the art neuroscience and high-tech scans show how these type of influences actually change the brain waves and the brain energy levels to a higher, more productive level. So, you’re literally programming yourself, your mind, for success. You can physically feel a difference as these influences impact you.
During 2019, I had a rare experience of things just coming together throughout the year, where I met four world-renowned doctors on longevity and health, all very amazing individuals. One of them, Dr. Mao Sing Ni, suggested one of the things you can do, among many things – he gave us a list of about 30 things, which I am happy to share, should you ever want it; just send me a note at that very same email I just talked about, firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m happy to share this! But anyhow, among the things he recommended is to have an intermittent fast. In other words, 12 to 14 hours a day. I thought that sounds like a lot at first, but it’s not, really! It’s not a big adjustment. This gives your body a chance to reset and rest your system.
Recently, I had the chance to watch a special hour-long documentary on this very subject, on fasting – it talked about this as well, it reinforced it, and this is maybe a year later on the intermittent fasting. The impact is I now eat in a 10 to 11-hour timeframe. This is an example of maintaining upbeat, uplifting influences in your life because they have an impact on what we do. We keep learning, we keep growing. So, I now eat in a 10 to 11-hour framework, from 8 am, to about 7 pm, and then I have no food or water from 7 pm to 8 am. And the study, really, scientifically gets into the impact of your body and what happens. Very impressive!
A friend of mine, also named Steve, recently sent me a 45-minute documentary on the impact of eating cruciferous vegetables, particularly broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers to name a few, and their impact on longevity and health. How many of you have had your mom say, “Eat your broccoli!” Well, there’s a reason for it! Well, this influence has impacted my choice of foods.
So, these are just a couple of subjects among hundreds that you can learn about. It can be communication or planning or how to be more productive or astronomy or how to be more upbeat. As you consistently put these types of influences in your life, you can become better and better, more and more rounded. It increases your capability, your intelligence, your awareness, your abilities and your satisfaction in life. So, that’s number two. Number one is, maintain that focus on your personal vision, annual goals, and pre-week planning. Number two is, maintain upbeat, uplifting influences in your life.
Now, number three, is to have faith. The definition of faith from the dictionary is, faith is a strong belief, it’s confidence or trust in someone or something. It’s a belief in the existence of God. It’s belief that is not based on proof, and so, for example, the dictionary said, “He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by the fact.” Well, this is, I think, a pretty good definition of faith. The fruits of having faith like this are strength, hope, and peace. Whatever your beliefs, isn’t it wonderful to know that there is the hope of an after while and everything will be okay, that things will work out.
Marcus Aurelius said about 2000 years ago, “When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive, to breathe, to think, to enjoy, and to love.” See, this is faith of what we can do with this precious thing of life. I love that! Thank you, Marcus! That was excellent! Norman Vincent Peale, a friend of mine, who was amazing, wrote a book called, “The Power of Positive Thinking”. He was a pastor in New York City, very well-known, and he said this: “Become a possibilitarian.” Don’t you love that? “Become a possibilitarian. No matter how dark things seem to be or are, raise your sights and see the possibilities. Always see them! For they’re always there.” Thank you, Dr. Peale!
There are many things that strengthen faith. Simply believing, reflection of your blessings in life, your experience in the past that teach you that faith is a powerful influence, nature, outdoors, meditation, prayer, scriptures, examples of life can all strengthen your faith. In our most difficult times, we can find peace that things will work out.
When I was 23 years old, my summer job was selling books. They were character-building books for families and individuals. It was a fun, hard job – 12 hours a day, six days a week. I remember being assigned to a particular community and I went to church one Sunday and someone was giving a talk on faith and that things would work out. That day, the speaker shared a quote that I have never forgotten and I have committed it to memory. It is entitled, “Just Keep On”. I’d like to share it with you today.
“Just a keep on a- ‘livin and a keep on a- ‘givin,
An a’keep on a’trying to smile.
Just a keep on a-singin, a trustin, and a clingin,
To the Promise of an after while.
For the sun comes up and the sun goes down,
And the morning follows night.
There’s a place to rest, like a mother’s breast
And a time when things come right!
Just a keep on a ‘believin and a ‘hidin all your grievin,
And a keep on a tryin to cheer.
Just a keep on a-prayin, and a-lovin an a–sayin,
The things that we love to hear.
For the tide comes in and the tide goes out,
And the dark will all turn bright!
There’s a rest from the load and an end to the road,
And a time when things come right!
I firmly believe that that is exactly what will happen. And in the middle of this Coronavirus, in the middle of hard times, regardless of what they look like, things are going to be okay! There’s going to be an end to these, there’s going to be a brighter day, and ultimately, things will work out, regardless of what that hard time might be. Well, what strength that brings! It’s been particularly helpful to me this last week. The Coronavirus has been going for some months in the world, and it’s particularly hitting now in our country in a very big way. Everything is being shut down. I mean, the impact is extraordinary!
Well, I was just sitting in the office – I think it was on Monday or Tuesday of this week. In Utah, which is where my home is – we live on something called the Wasatch Fault – there’s a very big earthquake about every 350 years, is what the science shows. It’s been 400 years, so, I turned to the others and I said, “Yeah, we’ll probably have an earthquake next.” The next morning, at 7:10 am, I’m sitting in my office, looking at the mountains, and all of a sudden, my office starts shaking, and for eight seconds, there was an earthquake. I thought, “Oh, no!” It was a 5.7; there was a later strong aftershock. People were shaken up. The International Airport was evacuated, the highways were closed. I sent out a little note to our family, and I said, “How can it get worse?”
Well, don’t ever say those words! Oh, my goodness! Because two days later, I was driving through a thruway, and all of a sudden, coming out of nowhere, I was rammed from the left side, and a truck and a trailer hit me and my car, spun me around. Fortunately, I was okay, but it totaled my car. And so, now I’m not saying anything, I’m just going to have faith things are going to work out. Let’s deal with the issues we have.
Okay, number four. So, the first three: stay focused on your vision, annual goals, and pre-week planning; number two, surround yourself with upbeat, uplifting influences; number three is, have faith. Things are going to work out here, okay? And number four is to serve others – family, friends, and those in need. I heard one time the quote, “If you toss your bread upon the water, it will come back toasted and buttered.” Well, that’s not why we serve others, but when you serve others, it not only helps you – forget yourself – but the service seems to put things in perspective. You just feel good. You aren’t doing this to look good or put attention upon yourself. You’re doing this because it is the right thing to do. It’s good, it’s pure, and it is right. You feel it deep down, and you’re not asking for praise or recognition. As a matter of fact, doing these things anonymously can be a huge blessing!
So, this can be a note, a call, flowers, treats or whatever your imagination and spirit tell you. One family likes to pay for the car behind them in the fast-food lane. They try to drive away before getting caught, but they like to stop long enough to catch the expression on the next person’s face when they learn that the person that just left paid for their meal. Well, what a delight that is! What a fun family tradition! There is so much good, so much kindness shown in the world!
I’d like to share an experience that my wife, Roxanne, and I had not long ago, as we were returning from a trip, a visit to Spain. This happened a little less than a year ago. We had concluded our trip and we were flying home. We stopped in JFK – John F. Kennedy Airport – in New York City, and as you know, it is a nuthouse. I mean, it is crazy! People all over, you’re going through customs, you’re rechecking your bags, you’re hurrying to get to the connecting flight that you have. It’s a pretty stressful time. We had gone through customs, we had rechecked our bags; there was a group of us flying, everybody else had gone ahead. Roxanne and I were together, we were going down a long escalator, and there’s a set of stairs next to the escalator where we were going down and there’s a toddler in the middle of that set of stairs halfway down crying and a mother at the bottom of the stairs. There were people all over, literally! It was a jungle!
Roxanne happened to be a few years into being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. So, when we traveled, she stayed a few steps right behind me and to the right, so I could keep a close eye on her, and this seemed to work pretty well. She could stay close to me and it was good for me. Well, we came off that escalator, I was really focused on getting to the gate, and I went about 80 feet, looked behind me, and she was gone! This would have been a disaster because she could not really describe to someone who she was or where she was going – it would have been very, very tough. I looked back and she was visiting at the bottom of the stairs with the woman with the crying toddler. I quickly returned, and noticed that not only was the toddler crying, but so was the mother. Roxanne tenderly inquired what the problem was, and the lady and the little girl indicated that they were on the way to India, and would be away from her husband for three months. She had just said goodbye to her husband, she was feeling the pain of separation and having to be away from her husband. And then, Roxanne reached out and just hugged this lady, and provided comfort.
Of all of the things happening in the airport that day, that had to be one of the most very important. We wished them well and went on our way. I appreciated the tender lesson that I learned from Roxanne that day – that opportunities lie all around us to lift and help others – simple opportunities to serve, that can make such a difference, that may only take a minute or two. And here I was so focused on busily getting to the gate, I didn’t even notice. So, I appreciate that example! Service can be simple and easy, but it can be so profound and have a lasting impact not only on those that we serve but also on our own lives.
And now, number five: what can I learn from this experience? What can you learn and what can you do to be better? So much success in life is how we think about the opportunities, crises, and challenges in life. We learn most through adversity, I think. What do you think about that? At least, I have learned most through my adversity. These things can be for our good. Challenges and setbacks are a full invitation to how you can do better and even become your best as a result of your experiences. I love this quote by Ken Wilbur: “The work we do on ourselves, whether it is psychological or spiritual, is not meant to get rid of the waves in the ocean of life, but for us to learn how to surf.” That’s exactly what can happen. And Wayne Dyer, who had such a wonderful impact on the world, said, “True nobility is not about being better than anyone else. It’s about being better than you used to be.”
You can ask your employer how can you take advantage of this time to help your team or your organization. You can ask yourself the same question. You can mind-map it, you can brainstorm with ideas with yourself and with others, share your ideas, get a group going on this. What can you do now and when and if you return to the workplace, how can you make the greatest contribution for good regardless of what the end looks like? You can move forward! Can you figure out a way to be more productive or increase your sales? There will be a lot of catching up to do no doubt! Will you be ready to be one of those who is immediately a contributor, to do what is needed most? This can be a great opportunity to step up your game and to advance your career, which comes from making a difference for good by producing needed results. You can be a rainmaker and create opportunities for others.
Well, these are things that we can do to survive and thrive in hard times. These five principles will see you through the hard times now and in the future! They will guide you through personal crises and challenges and see you through over and over. Well, let’s just take a moment now and review those five steps of things that you can do. Number one is to stay focused on your Vision, your Annual Goals and your Pre-Week Planning. Number two, surround yourself with upbeat, uplifting influences of all kinds. Number three, have faith. Number four, serve others. And of course, number five, what can you do to be better as a result of this experience? What can you learn from it? How can you improve?
For those that are interested, you will find a rich resource in the book “Becoming Your Best: The 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders”. This is a book – or audible or Kindle – that as you focus on learning about working on and mastering these timeless principles, they will help you not only survive the hard times, but they will help you soar far above them. And, as you go through this terrible crisis now, and hard times throughout your life, we wish each one of you the best! Hopefully, Becoming Your Best would be a positive resource; it’s part of that surrounding yourself with the upbeat influence, but it’ll have an impact as you focus on these five types of things physically, emotionally, mentally, socially and spiritually.
I want to wish each one of you the best now, through this particular crisis, and through every hard time that you may ever experience. I wish that you’ll be able to be safe, that your family will be safe, that we’ll be able to recover from this particular experience. There is no doubt that whatever comes, whatever may be, we can find a way forward that’ll work. It has been a privilege to have you on this podcast today. May you and yours stay safe and be blessed in every way! This is Steve Shallenberger, your host, signing off and wishing you the best!