By Martins Itua
In July 2016, the story was told of a bank staff who took his own life. Many reasons have been given to explain why he took the decision to kill himself but the summary is that he had lost all hope and couldn’t see a way out of the situation he found himself. There are several other people who have simply given up on life and are at the verge of jumping off a cliff. Somehow, life has been designed in such a way that most of the things that happen cannot be predetermined or foreseen. This is irrespective of how well you may have planned. The reason for this is not difficult. All the variables and factors needed to determine the outcome of events are not under your control.
During these difficult times, things can become quite unbearable for many people. Millions of people have lost their jobs. Many businesses are unable to cope with the rising cost of business and have shut their doors and closed down. For some people, it looks like the Armageddon is here because they cannot see a way forward. There is a general sense of despair in the land. Churches are fuller these days because people are desperately looking for help, answers and miracles.
It is more difficult for people who run their businesses as they cannot immediately pass the increased cost of doing business to their customers. The reality is that the purchasing power of many people has been drastically reduced as a result of high inflation and contracting economy. The question many business owners ask is what should they do when customers are unable to purchase their goods or services due to the economic downturn? The truth is that there are no easy answers to these questions because what may work for one may not necessarily work for another.
Despite all, you must keep hope alive. Our lives end when we give in to despondency, which is another word for hopelessness. Despair makes it impossible for the mind to conceive of a way out. Imagine being with a sick child who doesn’t respond to treatments and the condition is not getting better. Or imagine that you are down to your last penny without any hope that help will come from anywhere. Here are five ways to keep hope alive and survive even the most excruciating periods.
- Study the experience of those who have gone through that route
History is often made by people of gallantry and bravery. There are people who quit and give up easily. Such people hardly make it to the history books because they are soon forgotten. When you think of the world’s greatest leaders, they are people who weathered the strongest storms, even at the risk of paying the supreme price. Faced with a terrible and a much stronger enemy, Winston Churchill kept hope alive for Western Europe and delivered the following speech:
“Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail.
We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France,
We shall fight on the seas and oceans,
We shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be,
We shall fight on the beaches,
We shall fight on the landing grounds,
We shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
We shall fight in the hills;
We shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”
In the end, Adolf Hitler was defeated and the World War II ended.
- Keep your eyes on the Vision
At times of crisis, it is easy to lose sight of the reason why you are in business. Keeping your eyes on the goal is vital if you must achieve it. You may begin to question why you even started in the first place. Passers-by and ‘friendnemies’ may even look at you, laugh or make negative side remarks. Things may get tougher and the demands of keeping up with the bills may make it difficult to remember why you started your business. But you must remember that people who look back and forget where they are going never get there. Yes, it may prove difficult but resolve and determine that despite the setbacks or sufferings, you will reach your goal. Never lose sight of your vision. Martin Luther King Jr. was sentenced to jail for four months. It was while he was there that he wrote the famous ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail’. He did not allow the jail experience to kill his vision to end segregation and inhuman treatment of black people in the United States of America.
- Do Something about the Situation
There is no point to live in denial of the reality of the situation or pretend that it will pass even when you have done nothing about it. If your business is not making much money and you have huge bills, then it is time to cut down on your bills. For your business to thrive and succeed the hard times, reduce your outgoings and remove all unnecessary expenses. You may even need to reduce the number of employees working for you in order to stay afloat.
- Be mindful of your Company
Imagine going into battle with people who are ill prepared or have given up hope of any success. The company you keep can determine how you end up. Avoid negative people who never see or say anything good. It is good to have people constructively criticise you and your work but run from people who try to condemn you or pull you down. How can you tell the difference? The first group often leave you exhausted, frustrated and with self-doubt. The second group inspires confidence in you and nudge you to go ahead. Eagles mingle with eagles and not with chickens.
- Invest in yourself and in your People
Sometimes, our biggest problem is our ignorance. You cannot achieve more than you know. There may be a more efficient and cost-effective way to provide your service. But you will not know unless you find out. There may be new trends in the market which you are not aware of. Don’t try to solve today’s problems with outdated solutions. It will not work. Step out of your comfort zone and think outside-the-box in order to get out-of-the-box solutions. Don’t be afraid to change your process if it will bring better results and leave your customers more satisfied.