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2020 Is Bad – Don’t Make It Worse

September 18 2020 | by Ron Zayas

Concerned about the economy, the pandemic, hurricanes, elections and all the other little sweet treats 2020 has delivered so far? You should be. But you may be doing something to make it even worse: adding chaos to the mix.

First, a story

The outlook was relatively good as we entered our annual planning session last November. The economy had been humming along consistently for more than six years, our business looked solid and our annual client survey gauged most to be doing well and feeling optimistic.

But we still wrote the following in the final business plan under the “threats” section of our SWOT analysis:

A Downturn In Sales And The Economy
While the economy continues to grow modestly, past experience shows that big changes in federal tax income lowers economic output eventually, and lack of national and global stability and leadership breeds recessions.

Prescient? Maybe. More likely it signaled what every business owner tends to worry about: uncertainty. Call it chaos, lack of leadership, inconsistency — but not knowing what is to come is fatal to a business. When you are unsure about what the future will bring, you tend to be cautious. When you can’t count on people, institutions or other businesses to act consistently and logically, you begin to hold back. Call it reverse chaos theory: For most businesses chaos leads to indecision, indecision leads to contraction and contraction leads to the dark side. (Please, like you didn’t see that coming?)

You can lead, for better or for worse

Lack of leadership also makes things worse and amplifies the results of economic shocks, pandemics and civil unrest. While there is not a lot you can do about national chaos, have you thought about how your own leadership skills (or lack thereof) are affecting your business? Chaos within your organization can lower productivity and lead to high levels of turnover.

Focus on these four things you can do to help your business, employees and yourself to defeat chaos and lower stress in your workplace:

Be realistic, not negative

Good leadership is not about telling people what they want to hear; it is about making them listen to what they need to hear. If your business faces an uncertain future because of the pandemic, your employees know that. Telling them everything is fine is not going to make anyone feel better. Try explaining what you are doing to survive this and keep the lines of communication open. If you have bright spots, share them. Celebrate them even. But to exaggerate or fabricate success only makes the eventual crashing back to reality that much harder.

Get people focused on what they can change

For most people, 2020 sucks. COVID is no fun. Watching your local businesses close is depressing, and staycations are lame. There is a lot we can’t change, but you can get your people (and yourself) focused on what they can do. Whether it is cleaning your business to keep it safe and open, focusing on new products or looking for ways to reach out to customers and prospects, get everyone working toward a goal that matters. Working together and celebrating small successes really helps keep morale up and turnover down. It also is infectious (in a good way) and translates to your customers and prospects.

Businesses, like French aristocrats, stink from the head down

Not one of my better metaphors. But how you act influences everyone else around you. If you are stressed, depressed and calculating the distance to the nearest bridge, you will make life miserable for those around you. Whether you try yoga, meditation, watching penguins and bubble machines, or just going out for a walk when things get overwhelming, staying calm and focused will help eliminate the chaos around you. As a business owner, manager or team leader, people look to you for a barometer on how to act. Are you making the culture better at your job, or feeding the fire of uncertainty?

I was sad because I had no shoes…

As counterintuitive as it sounds, it helps to focus on others that are worse off. When we see individuals and businesses in more distress — especially when we can help them — it makes us feel better and builds teamwork. Now may be the time to do a fundraiser at work, organize a food drive or simply take water to homeless people fighting the heat. Yes, you have to take COVID into account and not put your employees at risk, but from drive-through food drives to dropping off needed supplies to local shelters, helping others is the best type of leadership exercise out there.

Need some help leading?

Why not reach out to us for some advice on how to help your business? Just ask us a question by writing us at, or go online at and get on our chat line for some real-time help from our marketing specialist. It’s free. We are not out to sell you anything – this is how we give back and keep ourselves focused.