By Meeta Vengapally
As a leader or small business owner, sometimes you’re not okay—and that’s okay.
The other day, I went to the grocery store and bought a sweet red pepper for seven dollars. Through my sticker shock, I reasoned with myself that it had to be done. Peppers are incredibly healthy, I use them in many dishes, and I wasn’t going to let my children live on French fries alone.
What kept me in the produce aisle agonizing over this decision is the same for all of us—vegetables shouldn’t cost so much, and neither should everything else. Standing there in dismay, I looked around at the other shoppers and realized that we were all in the same boat. Our world is currently pretty crazy, so I asked myself, how do we create sanity in an upside-down world? More importantly, how do we—and our businesses—prosper?
Overcoming disillusionment in our personal and professional lives
It’s no surprise that inflation, crime, and poor mental health all go hand-in-hand. We’re human. Everyone is doing their best and we’re at the point where people must go to desperate lengths just to survive. America is one of the most affluent countries in the world, but the wheels seem to have come off the tracks. People are struggling and it feels as though moral fortitude has been lost.
We live in an increasingly marginalized, politicized, hateful world, and what causes all of this is deep-seated fear—fear in both our personal and professional lives. But this disillusionment can either bring us down or lift us up together. Considering the problems we face, we can choose inaction or innovation. Many businesses are struggling through this time but those that are rising above are choosing to seek new solutions. In truth, what’s happening in the world can make us all better and stronger with the right mindset. Here’s how.
1. Understand that you’re not alone
My personal key to thriving despite disillusionment and worry is focusing on the knowledge that if I’m fearing something, countless others are as well. When mental health issues spring up, well, someone else has that to contend with, too. My terrifying grocery bill to feed my family gives me the same heart palpitations that it gives others. If I’m struggling with leadership decisions, you better believe that countless leaders are as well.
Although we can’t control our current world, we can take a moment in the produce aisle to realize that we’re not alone in this. The pandemic, protests, and serious crime on the rise—none of this is under our control. More than ever, it’s time for us to focus on what we can control: what we do for ourselves and how we relate to family, team members, and our customers or followers.
2. Lead from the heart
I’m an Instagram influencer and I’ve been questioning that term lately. How do we influence? What impact do we have? These questions are more important than ever because we can rise above the negativity through the decisions we make in life and business. “Influencing from the heart” may not be a widely discussed leadership tactic, but as business owners, content producers, and entrepreneurs, we absolutely must lead from the heart and foster our creative spirits in the face of challenges.
Our customers, team members, and even those we pass on the street want to be seen. The best way to do this is in a heartfelt way. Businesses that are thriving right now understand this key principle. The world has changed and they’ve changed with it. There’s the old adage about the customer always being right. My take on that in our modern climate is the customer is always right about needing that heartfelt, human touch. We all need it in this time of disillusionment.
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3. Rise above the “I’m okay” fallacy
“I’m okay” is one of the biggest cop-outs. Even as a leader or small business owner, sometimes you’re not okay! Admitting this is an expression of your humanity and contributes to the health of everyone around you. Our society is geared toward looking the part: strong, resilient, and fashionable. I think these qualities are excellent, but we gain more strength and resiliency when we admit to the moments that we feel weak.
This is particularly important in business and most don’t realize it. If a team member is feeling unwell or suffering in some way, their resilience grows when leaders let them know that it’s okay to not be okay. When we give each other strength during difficult times, we all rise above and become more resilient. If your business or sales are “not okay,” the same principle applies. Being honest about what’s going on opens the door to what needs to be done. Ignoring it creates the opposite effect.
4. Step back from the chaos
When I step back from this maddening world, I ask myself, “What do I say to my kids?” The answer came to me with that red pepper in my hand:
Look around. Everyone is struggling. People who break into shops are struggling (but that doesn’t mean they should do it). Those suffering from depression and anxiety are struggling, and those trying to make ends meet are struggling.
Entrepreneurs and leaders often feel the need to push ahead. People depend on us and success is the main goal. However, the modern superhero needs to step back and assess. There are so many new variables in our world. Responding out of fear isn’t the right choice. In a crisis situation, of course, you need to think on your feet, but if you are dealing with circumstances where you can take more time, then do so. Giving yourself that moment will help you soar above and gain perspective.
Thriving despite disillusionment
The entrepreneurial spirit teaches us to be strong, confident, and resourceful. Our current topsy-turvy world is teaching us to be something bigger: both vulnerable and strong in our communication with one another. We see what we see. When it comes to the news, we’re fed what we’re fed. More than ever before, our interactions are complex, challenging, and immensely important.
Being disillusioned in America feels a bit like a pandemic hangover, but there’s a greater lesson that has come from it. People don’t feel okay sometimes. Perhaps you don’t feel okay. Maybe your business is hurt. But it is important to know that not being okay is okay. This greater understanding and acknowledgment is vital for your family, your entrepreneurial spirit, and yourself.
Take a break from the world and focus on what you have to give. It’s the most important life and career decision you can make.
About the Author
Meeta Vengapally, a trailblazer in the startup tech world and a social media personality, is the Founder and CEO at Garnysh and a sought-after influencer. Meeta has a portfolio of orchestrating over 1000 brand partnerships and serving as a spokesperson for top-tier companies. She balances her entrepreneurial achievements with being a dedicated momager to her two talented teen actors, Winston and Sitara Vengapally. Stay connected with Meeta on Instagram, read her Forbes profiles showcasing her expertise in the startup world and on social media, and explore her articles on AllBusiness.com.
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