Q: Why are so many people whining about their business lives these days?
A: They’re not facing up to the hard work needed to solve problems. As I help people with businesses and careers, I hear, “Tory, nothing is working,” “Nobody is getting back to me,” and “What if [blank] doesn’t happen?” My response: Sometimes you have to suck it up, and here are three great ways to do that.
• Embrace your problem. My ABC News colleague Robin Roberts, anchor of Good Morning America, survived breast cancer only to have to undergo a painful bone marrow transplant. She could have retreated to a dark place. Instead Roberts confronted her situation and turned “her mess into her message,” persuading fans to sign up for a national bone marrow registry.
Our day-to-day frustrations can be vexing even though we don’t face a challenge as dramatic as hers. The way Roberts handled her illness—staying focused, sharing her experiences and consciously choosing to see light through a cloud of adversity—should inspire anyone. You can let your audience in on what you’re going through as long as you use that vulnerability for a positive, helpful outcome serving a greater purpose—not for drumming up personal sympathy.
• Let it go. Yes, that’s the opposite of what I praised Roberts for doing. This strategy comes from another ABC News colleague, Dan Harris, author of 10% Happier. In his book, this master worrier talks about strategies he learned to tame his self-doubt. I found this one particularly valuable because I battle self-doubt, too. The antidote: Step back briefly and ask, Is this useful?
“It’s OK to worry, plot and plan,” Harris writes, “but only until it’s not useful anymore. I’ve spent my life trying to balance my penchant for maniacal overthinking with the desire for peace of mind. Here, with one little phrase, is a hugely constructive tool for taming this impulse.” Amen to his advice!
• Turn the mirror on yourself. When things aren’t going as planned, figure out where you’re accountable. Whether you’re trying to launch a product or close a corporate sale, the process is the same—you must reach the right person with the right message at the right time.
Yet too frequently efforts play out this way: You repeatedly contact the same five people who’ve expressed lukewarm interest. You call, text, email, send smoke signals and get nowhere. The obvious conclusion that most people falsely make—is that nobody is interested, that this just doesn’t work. In other words, you sink into whining. It’s easy to blame others and be angry at their refusal to do what you want, but it’s not constructive and won’t generate business.
Ask yourself what you must change. Have you positioned your message effectively and stressed the benefits to the client clearly and confidently? Is the timing right? Should you reach out to five new people instead of the same old contacts?
Focus on things you can control, not those beyond your reach. It’s up to you to develop a Plan B when Plan A fails.
Here’s how I use the mirror: Instead of blaming a problem on someone else, I figure out how to fix it myself. This approach can be difficult, but it’s way more productive than hoping others will miraculously save you.