In a recent LIFEies on Hardiness, I mentioned a book I read back in 2006—Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies and Why. I loved the book but especially loved the author’s 12 rules for adventure and survival (they are below in an article from Forbes in 2012). I loved them so much I copied them, recalled them monthly and revisited them for a whole year. They were written for survival, and I kept them handy when I was backpacking, but I learned great lessons for my life as well.
— Think/analyze/plan—get organized by setting up small, manageable tasks. The more organization I have the better I become, in all areas of my life. And every year I am more and more organized (Thank you, Chelsea and Stef).
— Celebrate your successes—even small ones. When you are in survival mode, this is critical. Survival mode does not have to be out in the wilderness but could be on a huge pitch or fast deadline or when you are up for a promotion and have to negotiate your pay increase. BJ Fogg uses the phrase “give yourself shine.” And I do. Sometimes the smallest things are the hardest and deserve the most recognition. Shine all the time.
— Count your blessings—We are alive. Most readers of LIFEies live in the USA, one of the most prosperous countries ever. We all have blessings—Be grateful.
— Play—I need to remember this one all the time. Take some time today and everyday to have some fun—sing, play a game, laugh.
More rules below. Consider sending this to yourself every month for the next year.
Live Your Fantastic Life.
Rule # 8 from my book The Fantastic Life: Play Where You Can Win
Sometimes surviving is as simple as relying on your innate strengths and talents. Play where you can win, and then keep winning over and over again.
12 Rules of Adventure, Survival, and Beating the Recession
Officially, we’ve heard from Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve that the recession ended in 2009 and we are in an economic recovery. Many small business owners report nothing close to a financial recovery. Bloomberg reports that household incomes are down below 2007 levels. Most would probably concur with that statistic.
A book of real life survival stories hardly seems the best place to seek advice about what to do in a post-recession world, but perhaps it is.
Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales is a book filled with paradoxes. Haunting, yet beautiful. Scary, yet inspiring. It contains stories of people who went to the edge of death and returned. Published in 2003, it is far from out of date. Its stories of extreme survival quite possibly will cause some readers to lose sleep. I believe it is destined to become a classic, not for the stories themselves, but for Mr. Gonzales’ exploration of what allows or makes a person survive. Perhaps these adventure survival stories are needed more now, in this lagging economy.
I have been a fan and an aficionado of adventure stories born out of work and travel experiences in the South Pacific. One of my first “real” companies was an adventure travel outfit where we took people on SCUBA diving trips, cave explorations, and jungle hikes. So, I gobbled up this book for the stories, and the entrepreneurial lessons between the lines. I found myself deeply contemplating the book’s appendix where he shares steps that survivors have in common.
The book also forced me to come clean, at least to myself and now you, that I’ve blamed this economy for my company’s shortcomings. Lame, I know since I’m the one responsible. Mr. Gonzales’ book reminded me of all the things that truly matter when you’re in a survival situation or in a business that’s struggling. While I’m well aware that the two situations are dramatically different, there are lessons to be gleaned from the tougher, real-life scenarios where one faces life and death head on.
Deep Survival is not a how-to book. There are lessons in it, but again, Mr. Gonzales doesn’t offer any tips or rules until you get to the appendix, which offers “The Rules of Adventure” and in that section he has 12 steps of what survivors do. The whole appendix should be required reading when you apply for your business license. For those who are facing tough times in their small business (or big business), this book can help you be a recession-survivor.
- Perceive, believe (look, see, believe).
Accept the reality of your situation, whatever it is. Then keep moving toward the outcome you desire. Stop seeing obstacles.
- Stay calm (use humor, fear to focus).
Don’t be ruled by fear. Keeping calm in the face of slow sales or lost accounts is possible. Not easy, but possible.
- Think/analyze/plan (get organized).
Set up routines where you can exercise discipline. Even if those routines are small and basic. One foot in front of the other.
- Take correct, decisive action (be bold and cautious while carrying out tasks).
This includes risks to save yourself and others. Make a decision and stick with it. Anita Campbell at Small Business Trends shared a post recently that suggested you could be the problem in your business if you are innovating too often.
- Celebrate your successes (take joy in completing tasks).
Even the smallest victories can bring satisfaction.
- Count your blessings (be grateful – you’re alive).
Gratitude is often cited as one of the healthiest attitudes you can maintain.
- Play (sing, play mind games, recite poetry, count anything, do mathematical problems in your head).
This keeps your brain engaged and why affirmations, repeating a favorite motivational quote repeatedly can often help you through a tough time. It is why many people talk about the power of prayer.
- See the beauty (remember: it’s a vision quest).
Allowing the beauty of life to enter your mind and heart will relieve stress. You have to see the beauty in small wins, tiny details, things that are going right.
- Believe that you will succeed (develop a deep conviction that you’ll live).
Stay determined and focused.
- Surrender (let go of your fear of dying; “put away the pain”).
This is a tricky one for a small business owner, but my takeaway is that you have to ease up a bit, release your grip, or stop the control freak tendency. One survivor said it is “resignation without giving up.”
- Do whatever is necessary (be determined; have the will and the skill).
I read this as a combination of facing reality and having an inventor, MacGyver-like approach that you can figure out how to fix anything.
- Never give up (let nothing break your spirit).
You can always make one more call, take one more step. Business is constantly changing and you change with it. There may be a second recession, incomes may go down, unemployment may go up, but you’ll keep moving toward keeping your business alive, and successful.