Control What You Can. Know What You Can't. | Jewel Images | Photography & Education By Julia Kelleher

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Control What You Can. Know What You Can’t.

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The last 10 days have perhaps been some of the most “up and down” moments I’ve ever experienced in my entrepreneurial career.  Corona virus has put us all on a E-ticket ride rollercoaster we have no power to get off. Or do we?

While it’s perfectly normal in a stress response situation to  have these emotional ups and downs, letting it linger can be detrimental to our mental health. Complaining, lamenting, speaking our fear, deferring action and then giving up is the pattern du jour these days, and ever so tempting to a mind controlled by fear and uncertainty. And the problem is, we get so worked up by stress that we’re exhausted and unable to move forward with action. And had we just taken action to begin with, all that energy could have been put to good use!

As entrepreneurs, our businesses rely on us staying sane in the midst of chaos. Your mindset is the most powerful asset you own right now. So what are you going to do about it? Those who gain a handle on their minds are the ones who will be fully prepared to soar once this corona crisis eases off a bit. Do you want to be left behind? I think not!

So what’s out of your control right now? And what can you control right now?

You cannot control this virus. You cannot control the country’s response to the virus, or how our government is playing out the drama. You cannot control if your neighbor has a cul-de-sac party and ignores social distancing. You cannot control the photographer down the street who decides to do a “Front Steps Project.” Agree or disagree, you have no right to shame, slam or humiliate someone for it online. Remember, that wastes your OWN energy that you could be using to get yourself ahead in the future. Why waste that precious mindset on someone else you can’t control?

What can you control? To quote a highly apropos book at the moment, “The Obstacle Is The Way” by Ryan Holiday:

  • Your emotions
  • Your judgements
  • Your creativity
  • Your attitude
  • Your perspective
  • Your desires
  • Your decisions
  • Your determination

Each one requires holding up a mirror and taking stock of YOU. Self-awareness is, I believe, THE greatest skill an entrepreneur owns. Being able to assess and evaluate your own mind, behavior and emotions allows you to avoid blind spots. You can see what’s REALLY happening when changing lanes, and make corrections with objectivity that propels you forward – and for that matter, your business too. 

And when you control what you CAN instead of what you can’t, all of sudden you see opportunity in the obstacle, and a path ahead in the not-so-nice, big picture.


So let’s break down each one of Ryan’s controllable assets.

YOUR EMOTIONS

Fear is public enemy number one right now. All of us surge through moments of fear and gratitude, and then back to worry again. It’s normal. Sudden, come-out-of-left-field fly balls are never fun, especially when world events like this sweep the rug out from under your finances, your life, and your emotions. It sucks.  But having learned to cope/heal my 8-year battle with anxiety, fear is purely a chemical response in your body. It’s a wave of hormones that floods your bloodstream, demanding that you act. That’s it. Nothing more. One of the greatest methods I learned for dealing with fear is through Barry McDonagh’s book “DARE.”

McDonagh says to allow those chemicals to be there. When fear hits, the first step is to recognize it for what it is, then allow it to course through you without judging or fighting it. It’s our reaction to the chemical surge that keeps it going and makes it stronger. The more you give in to what fear asks – to respond to the surge – the more fear accelerates in your body. It’s a negative feedback loop. By continuing that stream of negative thoughts – the negative spiral cycle – you are pumping more fear into your body. It’s our response to fear that makes it so scary!

Meditation is a brilliant way to combat and control your emotions. But mediation isn’t a one time thing. That’s why they call it a “practice.” You gotta do it regularly. When I first started meditating, I was shamed into it by my neuropathic doctor who knew I needed it. I thought it was all ancient medicine woo-woo. I was a western/modern medicine believer to the core. Give me a drug! That’ll fix it! Yeah….no. Was I wrong.

After a month of daily 5 minute meditation, my whole world changed. Things just got easier. Stuff rolled off my back. Drama wasn’t important anymore and honestly, wasted my precious energy, and took me to that place of heightened awareness I hated so much – that vigilant state of “what will happen next?” – a state that only led to a quick trigger finger on my anxiety pattern. And I avoided shooting THAT gun at all cost.

So you have a choice to control your emotions – to head to negative-land or not. It’s not an easy pattern to change, for sure. But why not use this time to practice being self-aware so you end up changing your life for good once this CoVid crisis has passed? It takes a lot of repeated behavior to fix it. So give yourself some grace, but press on. Keep at it. When little Miss Negative Nilly pays a visit, allow her to say her “peace.” Let her vent without judging her (yourself) and arguing. Recognize that she’s there to hand out her nasty-tasting fruit cake because she thinks it’ll save you (it’s your fear response). Then, calm your head with some mindfulness, seek out a mild distraction and focus on what’s right RIGHT NOW. Because all we have is RIGHT NOW. THIS moment, and everything is A ok….at this second. And this too shall pass. Read Eckart Tolle’s book, “The Power Of Now” for more on this topic.


YOUR JUDGEMENTS

The amount of online shaming and humiliation right now is disappointing to say the least. What good does it do to group insult someone? The herd mentality of the internet is downright evil, and you can control how much it you consume. Partaking in judging others is none other than a blatant lack of your own self esteem. If you feel the need to hurl judgements at someone else, why not the a look at yourself first? Again, this is a cattle car ride to negative-ville. What a waste of your precious energy spent on someone else. Just think how productive you’d be if you took that energy and placed it for YOUR good? For your business progress? For your art growth? Wow!

You have the choice to judge someone or not. What do you choose? Drama in your own head that affects no one, but you? Or peace in your heart?

We not only have the power to judge others, but also ourselves. Allowing your inner critic to take hold right now is just as unproductive as judging Suzy Q Photographer in Insta-ville or FaceBook-ton. Don’t waste that energy going backwards. Use it to take action and move forward in your business. Evaluate where your business is going. Do you need to pivot somehow to adjust for the changing market conditions? Evaluate what’s happening and where your customers are going, then make a change to serve them. Those are judgements that serve you and allow you to see the opportunity in the obstacle.


YOUR CREATIVITY

What chance we’ve been given to pursue your art! You have the choice and the chance to change right now. You have the power to vary how you create. Learn the skill you’ve alway said you wanted to!  Realize that the more you allow your heart to speak its voice, the more versatile you are making yourself for later when the corona crisis ends. The skills you fine-tune now will be your secret weapon when this is over.

And creativity is not only an artistic endeavor. It’s also problem-solving – coming up with solutions that work to your favor. So what solutions can you brainstorm? Who can you chat with to corroborate on issues? Running a business by yourself is not a fun place to be – lonely, intimidating and blindly hoping you’ve got the right answer. Join a mastermind, or call your photographer friend across the country. Brainstorm, brainstorm, brainstorm. It’s amazing how one person’s opinion or thoughts can trigger better solutions in your mind and vice versa for them.

Your creativity is your choice. And it’s liberating. It’s inspiring.



YOUR ATTITUDE

You know when you have a bad attitude. You know when you’re grumpy. You know when your mood is raw and razor sharp. But how does that affect those who are around you? They walk on eggshells. They second guess your every move. It’s no fun. At all. Empathy – putting yourself in their shoes – will snap you out of that attitude in a hurry. It sucks to be on the other side of an evil-eyed stare. Trepidation becomes your motto, making your whole house tense and nervous. So think of how those on the receiving end feel. How would you feel?

Fix that attitude, as mom would say.

On top of what it does to others, it’s one more bout of wasted energy for you – and that means one less kilojoule of it to spend on your business and its future. Your attitude triggers negative thoughts which triggers negative emotions. And our thoughts DEEPLY affect our physical outcomes. Proven in science – what you think, how you think and what you manifest can become your reality. For more on this fascinating topic read, “The Biology Of Belief” by Bruce Lipton. For us science geeks, it’s a page turner….and an easy read for even my non-science friends.


YOUR  PERSPECTIVE

How you see the world is deeply connected to your core beliefs – what you intimately and assuredly believe about the world. And chances are those core beliefs were formed, for the most part, before you were 25. But with some good self-searching, you can change those beliefs and your perspective. You control it.

Do you inherently, at your core, believe your business will fail in the next year because of conrona? Then it probably will. I know, harsh right? But if you think you’ll get through this, then your mind will naturally begin to look for ways to do so. You’ll begin to see the opportunity inside the obstacle.

Do you believe people are irresponsible and insensitive? (Also see Judgements section above)  Is that affecting your ability to think positive? Why do you think that about people, and is your reason reliable? Question your sources hard. Is your core belief a valid one? Better yet, do you really WANT to think that way? Negatively? No? Then, search for responsible and sensitive folks. They are everywhere in the news right now. Ask yourself of every person you know….are they insensitive? Chances are, they are not. It’s up to you to CHOOSE how you see the world – how you alter your perspective. And your perspective will make or break your ability to solve problems and see possibility.


YOUR DESIRES

You can change what you want at any time! Isn’t that fabulous? Do you want to see the positive? Do you want to kick butt at your business? Do you want peace in your life? Do you want to be happy? Your desires fuel your passion and motivation. They fulfill your dreams and give you noble goals. And that’s empowering.

You have the power to change your mind. Period.

Think about that statement. Read it again.

You have the power to change your mind.

Have you ever tried to “watch your thoughts?” As a nonjudgmental bystander, have you ever tried to simply watch and listen to what your minds says? It’s fascinating. And what you’ll realize is this: if you can do that – watch your thoughts – then doesn’t that mean there are two of you in there? The one “talking” and the one “watching?” Whoa! Mind blown!! So who is really YOU then? I like to think that my “watcher” is my soul, my heart, the real-ness of who I am. It won’t ever leave me, whereas when I move on to the next life, my mind can. So if that’s the case, then my thoughts aren’t really the true ME. So why do I listen to them so much?

When negative strikes, I say,

“Wow, my mind is annoying today!”

It allows me to evaluate my desires from the real, deep part of who I am. What do I really want?It clears out the heads influence and helps me speak form an authentic place. You have power to change your desires. You have the power to change your mind.


YOUR DECISIONS

Of course, this all leads up to your ability to change what you do. How will you act? And remember, taking action before you’re ready helps the fear of taking action subside.

“Action inspires courage, not the other way around” – Marie Forleo, “Everything Is Figureoutable”

If you decide to wait for fear to let go, you’ll never get there. It’s tempting to wait for things to get better, but again, it’s wasted time and energy you could be using to get ahead. So what action are you taking in your business right now to move forward? What’s on your to-do list? If you don’t have one, make one, NOW. And then check it off, one item at a time. Start with the small, easy stuff, then move on to bigger projects. Doing the easy stuff first builds action-momentum to help you conquer the big stuff later. It’s a powerful strategy – action-momentum.

Your decisions are up to you. And when you change your mindset, your decisions become more positive, easier and more motivating. You see possibility instead of road-blocks. You see a way to weather the storm, not let it rain on your parade.


YOUR DETERMINATION

This one is my pet peeve. I’m a big believer is perseverance and determination. He who works the hardest and the smartest, wins. And you get to control how much determination you have. Do you really want to survive this crisis? How determined are to do that? Will you stop at nothing and try everything to do so?

Determination is a lot like going to the gym. It’s tough to actually get in the car and get there, but once you’re there and start working out, you enjoy it. I get it. Sometimes its just easier to “do it tomorrow,” or “wait for the right time.” But those who put their grown-up panties on are the ones who wind up leaving everyone else in the dust. Lack of action is a choice. And Your drive to take action is just as much of a choice. Oftentimes our drive is -ironically- driven by our mindset and attitude.  And sometimes to keep your determination in 5th gear, you gotta yell “No!” to your thoughts and subsequent emotions, pressing on even when you don’t want to.

Once you build that action-momentum, though, determination gains its own velocity. Seeing yourself #dothework that others are leaving behind is motivating, knowing you are getting ahead. Just imagine if you set out to accomplish all those “pesky projects” you’ve been procrastinating on –  and you set up your business to blow past the others when Covid-19 dies the death we know it will? You’ll be 50 yards ahead waiting at the goal line when Covid-19 hucks you the Hail Mary pass. And with the choices you made, the preparation you’ve done, and right attitude and beliefs,  you’ll catch that touchdown pass like you’ve been waiting all your life for it.

“Chance favors the prepared mind.” – Louis Pasteur


So you have a choice. Will you wallow in what you cannot control? Or will you take control of what you can, driving fear off into the distance? By handling those things that are truly up to you, you’ll open up the possibilities. You’ll discover that even in crisis, even when all seems lost, there are silver linings. There are opportunities for you to grab. Be willing to change. Be willing to pivot your business if need be. Great entrepreneurs own their minds. Not the other way around. And when you thrive under you own light, you see the cracks in an obstacle’s facade.  And you who is fluid, open and positively charged, will seep through those cracks to the other side – filling your well with success.

Control what you can. And change only what is up to you. Shift yourself and the obstacle will crumble.

Stay Healthy & Happy – Julia

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