Today, I want to talk about what I call the dark and downward spiral. You know the one I’m talking about. I call it the journey of the four steps. But first, there's something I want to tell you.
I’m so proud of you. Have you heard those words lately? I sure hope so but if not then let me tell you. I’m proud of you for being brave enough to change your financial future. Your ability to envision your dreams and ACTUALLY go after them is admirable. You’re awesome!
You get a paper cut and you’ve somehow spiraled into believing that you’ve contracted some terrible disease that’ll leave your arm numb for life. Suddenly, you’re caught obsessing over all the worst-case scenarios. It’s incredible that we as entrepreneurs can get up and chase our biggest goals and dreams when the rest of the world is doubting us every step of the way but completely falter at an imaginary scenario we’ve created in our own minds!
Maybe you had a great sales day but before you even get the chance to celebrate you’ve let that joy spiral down into the fear that you might not make sales tomorrow. And then you’ll go bankrupt! Oh no!
Do you want to know what’s happening in those moments? You’re allowing joy to STEAL your happiness. Brené Brown calls this foreboding joy. Joy can really be your greatest theft of happiness. Did you know the ability to sit, enjoy, and celebrate your accomplishments is a learned skill? Not jumping to the worst-case scenario is something that you have to learn.
I’ve had to come face to face with the spiral. It hasn’t been easy. Really, it’s like training any other underdeveloped muscle. But guess what?! I’ve been able to make tremendous progress and now can often laugh and move on when these feelings surface. I want to show you exactly how I’ve done it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely still a work in progress but my hope is that this will help you be one too.
The Journey of the Four Steps
Learning to recognize the spiral is what I call the journey of the four steps away. To understand the four steps, picture a ladder. Now, you are in the middle rung of the ladder and there are four steps above and four steps below.
In the middle step is a situation that has no emotions to it yet. You can choose to go up or down the ladder. You can spiral down by thinking about the worst-case scenario or go up the ladder. If you spiral downwards you’ll go through the steps of annoyance, worry, anger then victimization. You can choose to go upwards through the steps of spark, excitement, belief then empowerment. You chose which four steps you are going to take with every situation.
To really illustrate what I mean let me use a specific example. Imagine you start a business and you don’t sell your first product. How annoying, right?! The next rung on this ladder is worry, if you decide to step down. What if you never sell these products? Now you feel duped. Whoever sold you on this program or idea is wrong. If it didn’t work for me then it must be a hoax, right?
You’ve gone from annoyance, to worry, to anger, and finally victimization. Do you see how quickly that crashed and burned? What if you chose the opposite? What if you decided to move UP a rung in the ladder. Let’s look at those results.
You didn’t sell the product like you thought you would. Hmm. How curious? Maybe there’s someone else out there who has. I call this step the spark. The next one is excitement. What if I reached out to that person who did what I’m trying to do. Maybe I can learn something from them. Actually, you know what! I’m gonna be the one who tells people it didn’t work for me the first time but I prevailed anyway! That’s the next step. It’s belief. The belief that you can do the EXACT thing you’re struggling to do.
No hero has ever had it easy. You are the hero in your story. You decide how it ends. And when you take the next step up on that ladder you reach empowerment. Maybe you didn’t sell the first time. But now you’re even more excited because you know you can and will! It’s always easier to go down than it is to go up. But down does not lead you in the direction of your goals. So why bother? You get to decide to move towards victimization or empowerment.
A Real Example of the Journey of Four Steps
Here’s the scenario. You get a customer service email and they’re overly rude. Which way are you going to go on the ladder? If you go down, your thoughts might race to “how dare someone be that rude to me” (annoyance), then you pause and think “oh my gosh, what if they give me a bad review and ruin my business” (worry). From there, it’s hard to slow down the process. Next, you move to anger and you’re running through scenarios on how you can get back at them. Maybe you’ll charge them double shipping or a restocking fee. Then the victimization starts and you’re wondering if you are cut out for this business thing. See how fast it can spiral the wrong way.
Now, let’s take a look at what it would look like if you went up the ladder instead. First is the spark – maybe the UPS man dropped the package and broke something. So, you email them back and wait for a reply. After twiddling your thumbs for a bit, you hear a ding on your phone and it’s an email back from the customer. You were right! There was a broken part. Next comes belief and it’s your chance to change everything for the customer. You let them know that you’ll reship everything, free of charge, and include a 20% of coupon. Finally, come the empowerment. You were able to change the day of a customer that could have possibly been having the worst day of their life. And you were able to change that and now you can go take on the rest of the world with your head held high.
So to recap. The four steps down are…
- and victimization.
Notice how none of those words are ever acquainted with productivity. The four steps up are…
- and empowerment.
Don’t each of those words just fill you with a sense of positivity?
Now you know the four steps. It’s up to you to decide the outcome you want. Which will you choose?
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