When everything goes wrong, here's how to regain control.
Economic upheaval is coming. It may not be a tsunami but the waters will become very choppy.
The initial waves have already reached shore. Venture capitalists have stopped throwing money at start-ups. Unicorns and narwhals are losing their horns and tusks. Later stage financing is becoming difficult to find and company valuations are sharply lower than in earlier stages.
Many tech start-ups will fail and established tech and non-tech companies will also falter. Quite possibly you are already feeling entrepreneurial terror.
You are not alone.
You will try your level best to make sure that your company not only stands but also prospers. But what can you do if it gets sucked down the pipes?
Here are some tips and life hacks for you. They are world views that you have to adopt so you might want to begin right away.
You cannot learn to surf on a tsunami. You have to begin with the two-foot waves and, once you become proficient, you have a chance of riding the big wave.
Stuff happens: Recognize, right now, that you have no control over what will happen.
Our culture insists that you can control the outcome and the way to do so is to work hard and execute well on a soundly conceived plan. If you don't succeed, any number of pundits will tell you--afterward--what you did wrong.
Go back a decade. Netflix had a fast growing business sending out DVDs by mail on a subscription basis. A big drawback was that a customer had to wait two or three days before getting the movie he wanted.
Blockbuster was a behemoth and decided to get into the act by making the exact same offer to customers with the wrinkle that they could also drop into a local store to pick up or drop off a movie. At the time it had more than 9,000 stores so one was bound to be convenient to you.
Netflix should have been toast. Instead it has morphed into a media conglomerate and many of its original productions, like House of Cards, are phenomenal hits. And Blockbuster? It filed for bankruptcy in 2010.
It could happen to you. No matter how much you think you have control, you really don't.
You are not your company:
Far too many of the entrepreneurs I work with identify totally with their companies. If it fails, they feel they have.
When a company fails, the financial and human damage can be great. You will try your level best to minimize this in the best way that you can.
But you DO NOT have to go to dark areas of your mind or into paralyzing dysfunction.
The way to do this is to recognize, right now, that your company is a tool. In fact, it is the Swiss Army Knife of tools--a versatile device that can do many marvelous things.
You use this tool to work on yourself.
In fact, that is the only thing you ever do in life. You work on yourself. You want to live a life where you are radiantly alive. A life with meaning and purpose and large dollops of joy.
The way to craft such a life is to be anchored in a friendly universe (see the next point).
When you work on any aspect of running your company, you work on yourself.
Recalcitrant employees teach you patience, even forbearance.
The crooked help you examine your values and decide who you want to be.
The list is endless.
But the company is a tool.
You are not the tool.
You are the one who uses it.
Is the Universe Friendly?
We revere Einstein because of his scientific genius in formulating the Theory of Relativity and discovering the Photoelectric effect.
Less well known is that he was also a philosopher with a deep understanding of the human psyche. And he posited that the most important question you will ever answer is "Is the Universe friendly?"
This is profound. Pause to think of the implications.
Most of us live in a world where the Universe is neither friendly nor unfriendly. It is just unaware of, and indifferent to, us and goes its own merry way. Sometimes it seems to be working with us, sometimes against us and sometimes in random, nonchalant fashion.
And so we live our lives buffeted by this unpredictable entity riding a sine curve between elation and despair. And we tend to spend more time on the despair end.
But suppose, just suppose, the Universe was 'friendly'.
Then everything that happens to us is exactly what we need for our development and growth.
Think of a small child that wants a tub of ice-cream. And a wise parent that gives it fruits and vegetables. The child doesn't WANT fruits and vegetables and may well consider it a disaster when that is the only food provided.
It is only when the child grows up and achieves a higher level of understanding that it becomes grateful for getting fruits and vegetables rather than tubs of ice cream.
What if the Universe were like that? What if all of the stuff you bemoan--such as the failure of your company--is exactly what you need on your road to a fulfilled existence? What if each event had a lesson for you that would take you further on your path?
If you believe in a friendly universe, then nothing that happens will ever get you down. You will become resilient and rise up from any and all adversity. And every day will be filled with joyous expectation as you receive what a friendly universe has in store for you.
Can you prove the Universe is friendly?
Of course not.
But can you prove that the Universe is unfriendly or indifferent?
Of course not.
It will not have escaped you that, regardless of whether or not the Universe is friendly, if you believed the Universe is friendly, it would greatly improve your life.
A friendly Universe is a superior mental model to the indifferent or unfriendly Universe model that most of us hold.
And herein lies the nub. Just because you intellectually recognize that a model is superior does not mean that you can adopt it. There are too many decades of conditioning that prevent this.
The good news is that it is possible for you to work your way into first acceptance and finally adoption of the Friendly Universe model. It will require dedicated effort and may take months--or even years--so it behooves you to begin soon.
The way to adopt the Friendly Universe model is to actively look for instances in your own life that support it. At first the tendency is to label these incidents as 'coincidence' or 'chance'. But as the numbers of them multiply, you will begin to wonder if there isn't a hidden hand working behind the scenes. Push harder when you reach this stage and you will tip over into a Friendly Universe and your life will be changed--for the better and forever.
For a detailed blueprint on exactly how to do this, get a copy of my book Are YOU Ready to Succeed?
I hope your company thrives in the coming turbulent times. But, if it doesn't, you now know what to do.
This post has previously appeared on Inc.com.