Lisa and I are franchise owners of ActionCOACH, a global business coaching services firm with over a thousand coaches in 80-plus countries, helping businesses weather this crisis and eventually helping them grow and thrive in a new normal. Brad Sugars, the founder of ActionCOACH, is a dynamic and passionate entrepreneur who wrote several basic business books and developed a library of business principles easily adaptable to all businesses, small and large, operating in the broad spectrum of sectors. The viability of the ActionCOACH brand and its global expansion over the past 26 years proves Brad’s brilliance. One of his many allegories directs business owners to “Stay Above the Point!”
The “Point” represents an inflection: Either you’re above or below the point, rarely are you sitting on the point unless you’re disconnected. Where you are in relationship to the point is projected by your behaviors, actions and communications. If you’re above the point, you’re projecting optimism and strength; if you’re below, you’re projecting pessimism and weakness. If you’re above the point, you’re exuding confidence and conviction; if you’re below, you’re bleeding doubt and uncertainty. If you’re above the point, you’re attending to your team’s needs; if you’re below, you’re missing in action. If you’re above the point, you’re engaged and thriving; if you’re below, you’re idle and failing. If you’re above the point, you’re in a state of gratitude; if you’re below, you’re thankless.
In times of crisis, we all struggle to stay above the point, but the best leaders find a way to do just that!
A crucial skill
We’ve been in the COVID-19 self-isolation stage for more than nine months. Each of us has been tested to stay above the point. It’s hard to do if you’ve seen the erosion of your retirement funds, loss of a business, job, income, cancellation of graduation ceremonies, and sadly the passing of loved ones to the virus. To compound these feelings, we’re still dealing with the uncertainty of returning to some level of normalcy and our government’s inaction on new stimulus legislation. As the pandemic raged, we returned to discussions on government-mandated lockdowns. And most difficult, we’re a species that thrives on human contact, and its absence has a significant emotional toll on us all.
Nevertheless, staying above the point is crucial not only for each of us but also for our family, friends, business associates, community, state and nation. There is reason to be optimistic. Vaccines have begun distribution. With some certainty, we can expect the general population to be vaccinated starting late spring. We’ve learned so much from this virus. Medical protocols and therapeutic solutions have emerged that significantly decrease the mortality rate of those infected. A new normal will look very different from our old routine. We will have changed the way we live and do business. With change comes abundance if you stay above the point and seek, screen and seize the right opportunities.
To stay above the point, adopt a technique widely used in the ActionCOACH community and by behavior specialists worldwide called “I am statements;” positive, affirmative statements about yourself. First, write five to 10, “I am statements,” then second, establish a ritual and recite them to yourself once or twice a day or before moments of stress. These statements affirm who you are and who you want to be, not who or what you want or will vanquish. For example, I am an exceptional leader instead of the best leader, or I am a winner instead of going to beat Bill, or I’m a great parent instead of a better parent than my in-laws. If you establish this as a daily ritual, it’s hard to dwell below the point, and you’ll see an environment rich in opportunity.
Another technique to stay above the point, used by many sport psychologists, is the process of IVVM, or idealization, visualization, verbalization and materialization. Idealization means you concentrate on the ideal outcome you want to achieve. Visualization means you imagine seeing the steps necessary to achieve the result. Verbalization means you talk through what you visualized, by yourself at first, then with others, and describe the steps and the outcome in detail. Finally, you materialize what you envisioned and verbalized by acting on a plan that achieves your idealized outcome. Many professional athletes and business leaders use this technique to stay above the point, and they achieve phenomenal results.
Our country will return to work, and there will be an economic rebound. For today and then every day after that, stay above the point, affirm who you want to be, invest the time and effort to IVVM your business, and then get ready to thrive. It’s time to lead, think, plan and act. Now, let’s get after it!
Paul A. Raggio is co-owner, with his sister Lisa, of One True North INC Leadership and Business Coaching Solutions.