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Buckle up!

Articler written by Harry-Welby Cooke (ActionCOACH Country Partner)

The past two weeks, in particular, only perhaps equalled by a two-week period after the looting and rioting of last year, I’ve found myself at the centre of conversations with negative, depressed, stressed, and very emotional people. With the very odd exception, people are taking huge strain. They’re deeply concerned, worried about the future and really struggling to get to grips with the now.

The range of conversations have also included everyone from retrenched and about to lose their home, unemployed and living in dire poverty to multi-millionaires and everybody in-between. The essence of the conversations though, have been 100% the same.

It’s entirely understandable though. The sea of endless problems piled on top of each other and the relentlessness of the media to highlight these must take its toll. Not only is it the Zondo commission findings, seemingly runaway crime, non-stop corruption, failing education, non-existent local service delivery, political manoeuvring, legal wranglings but then also record fuel prices, load-shedding, increasing interest rates, Eskom and municipal increases low to almost neutral growth, rising inflation, ever-increasing food prices and the list goes on and on. I’m getting quite depressed just typing this.

What has however been interesting, and dare I say concerning to me, is that a lot of the negativity is aimed at our beloved country or region. More and more people are looking to jump ship, and are, whilst even more dream of jumping ship even if they don’t have the wherewithal. Again, completely understandable but whilst we’re bombarded by bad news internally, we often don’t get to see the real and bigger picture.

That real and bigger picture is one where the world is in turmoil.  The whole world.  It’s not South Africa, or Southern Africa or even Africa specific.

To aid you with some perspective I’ve included just a few recent global articles for some perspectives:
Stagnation Risk Rises Amid Sharp Slowdown in Growth
World bank warns a global recession looks inevitable as food and energy prices spiral
US makes most aggressive interest rate hike since 1994
Europe reels under high fuel prices, protests in Poland
Risk of ‘conflict and strife’ in Europe over energy crisis
Boris Johnson resigns: Five things that led to the PM’s downfall

“So that’s very nice”, I hear you say, “but it still doesn’t change my own personal circumstances”.  That it does not, and I completely agree, but perhaps a little perspective and some areas to focus on might.


There are always three sides to any story.  My side … your side … and the truth – somewhere in-between.  Constantly look for, no search for, perspective.  Search for those other options, alternatives, opinions, realities, and truths; that are perhaps not present at first view. Read different news, speak to different people, and seek out a different perspective. Once you do, that helps swing the pendulum away from your reality to perhaps a new one.  Now allow some time for the pendulum to settle and you’ll find it’s not necessarily completely on the ‘other’ side, and perhaps now somewhere in the middle.  Neutral is good.  Both a positive charge and a negative charge can be dangerous.  Neutral and more balanced helps ease the emotion to bring about clarity of mind.  Very necessary for progress.

Buckle up!

When getting into a motor vehicle, or onto an airplane, the first responsible thing to do is to buckle up.  Best you do that in your life, and your business, for at least the balance of this year and possibly into next. The global issues are probably going to get worse before they get better. Accept that. Know that. There is unfortunately no easy fix to many of these challenges and even the required solutions will take time. If we accept that, it becomes easier to manage and deal with. Often, it’s more the emotion of craving stability, politicians suddenly going to change for the good, expecting miracles and whatever else, that assists in making us mad. It will get worse before it gets better. Accept that. Know that. Now make your plans accordingly.

Have a multi-focus approach

Intentionally channel your focus to multiple areas of your life. If I only focus on my dwindling wealth, or only focus on the increasing costs, or only focus on the bad news; I might really lose my marbles. Instead, intentionally list the various areas of your life that are important to you. Generally, they’ll revolve around things like:  health and fitness, fun and recreation, family and friends, partner and love, growth and learning, spirituality, money and finance, and career and work. A reasonably long list I know but it shows the multi-faceted nature of a human being.  If one or even two areas are dismal, make sure you prop up the others.  Have plans and focuses for each of the areas. If the truly important ones, yes those we easily neglect, like health and fitness, friends and family, partner and love, growth and learning, and spirituality are doing reasonably well we just ‘feel’ better.  When we ‘feel’ better we can think clearer and then it’s easier to work out the money and finance, and career and work.

Reset, realign, restart

Now is the time to hit the reset button. Reflect, review, and relook at what’s important. Consider what needs tweaking or maybe even what needs changing completely. Don’t leave any stone unturned and seriously re-evaluate everything. Then realign with your life’s purpose, your dreams and aspirations and ‘force’ yourself to think beyond the current ‘mess’ to what future you truly desire for yourself and your family. What is that end game?  Look beyond the horizon away from the short-term struggles to your desired long-term outcome. Then restart all over again with passion, energy, excitement, discipline, and conviction. This is but a small speed bump in a much bigger game.

Let us not forget that just two and a half years ago we went into a global lockdown because of an invisible virus. Life as we knew it came to an abrupt halt. We forget the trials and tribulations we endured and that we’ve also come through them. Yes, with battle scars but also with newfound tenacity and resilience. We can surely get through this too.  Buckle up!  You’ve got this.

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