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MarketStar’s careers and culture blog! In The Link we cover career trends and topics related specifically to MarketStar and our amazing team. All posts are written by MarketStar leaders, subject matter experts, and passionate employees who are excited about our company and their own careers. Thanks for joining us!

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Thriving in Uncertainty

    

Surviving pandemics, economic turbulence, career uncertainty, and other stresses in our current world make me think of us all clinging to the side of a cliff, hoping to avoid impending doom. We seem to feel inclined to just hang on, just survive, or just “get through.” We tend to not even think that thriving is an option when life changes course without our permission. Is that our reality, or can we find a skill that allows us to thrive and not just survive?

The Art of Tenacity

Tenacity is defined by a few key words and concepts:

  • Adhering closely (staying connected)
  • Not readily relinquishing (stop reacting)
  • Persisting in existence (decide to stay)

Instead of focusing on stubbornly “hanging on” or choosing to be constantly on the go, try staying connected, stop reacting, and decide to stay. The Art of Tenacity emerges when you know yourself well enough to understand your limits and make conscious choices about your environment, your abilities, and you.

Let’s make sure we clearly outline what The Art of Tenacity is not. The Art of Tenacity is

  • Not pushing through mercilessly to the end no matter what
  • Not stubbornly clinging to ideas or things because you don’t want to be accused of changing your mind
  • Not hanging on just long enough to get through whatever tsunami currently engulfs you
  • Not saying “everything is fine” when it absolutely is not fine or decent or even marginal

Do not confuse stubbornness with tenacity, for the former is blind to reason while the latter has no reason to be blind. Craig D. Lounsbrough


Staying Connected

The Art of Tenacity requires that we stay connected and stay in touch with who we are, our purpose, and what matters most to us. In simplest terms, it’s why a bumblebee anchors to the flower (particularly the stamen) when it needs to rest. It stays connected.bee-on-a-flower

What does this look like for us more complicated humans? Depends on who we are, what matters most, and what our purpose may be. For my dad, it means always serving or teaching, and putting others first. Yes, even if it means cracking jokes with the medical flight crew as their plane crash landed at the airport while trying to get him to a VA facility for open heart surgery. Helping them helped him stay connected to what mattered most to him — being there for others. He also knew that if he kept them calm, his chances of survival were definitely greater. Double bonus for all of us humans who like having him around.

For me, I stay connected to “the out.” Getting outside every morning (even at 5:30am in the pouring rain) to take pictures of the incredible world around me helps me breathe, focus, and find more energy for the rest of my day and all the humans that come my way. What else does it look like?

  • Carry pen and paper with you at all times so you can write or draw anywhere anytime
  • Calling home every day or every few days
  • Printing and repeating your personal mission statement or motto every morning
  • Putting pictures of people, places, or memories that matter most where you can always see them
  • Daily calls with your boss to debrief on critical projects
  • Building routines that connect you to your children, your teams, or your health 

Start building your list by asking: What can I DO that keeps me grounded (aka “sane”) and reduces my stress?

Stop Reacting

A lot of our stress in this millennia stems from the myriad decisions and data bytes we are expected to process (and process NOW) every single day. This pressure results in us readily relinquishing our time, tempers, emotions, and brain power to the demands of NOW — that ephemeral entity dedicated to distracting us from what matters most. Who cares how we got into this sticky wicket. Let’s get out.

Give yourself permission and space to rest, breathe, and think things through. I saw you roll your eyes. It works. I promise. So how do we do it? Again, customize to you, but here are a few things to try or help you jump start your personalized escape route:

  • Write down your physical, mental, and emotional limits. Practice verbalizing them. One of my employees came into my office a few years ago, closed the door, and shared her limits. We built two plans together. One made sure she could get back to “healthy.” The next plan made sure her work and our work environment kept her healthy.
  • Leave your phone (or your favorite distraction of choice) alone. It won’t have separation anxiety, promise.
    • Every single time you pick up your “smart”phone, you make at least 5 decisions. Our brains can only make up to 35,000 semi-conscious decisions per day. Be kind to your brain - save all that power for decisions that matter most.
      • For those of you with severe phone attachment issues, I recommend leaving it in another room, notifications off for 15 minutes at a time. You can then graduate to handing your phone to someone else for a few hours at a time.
    • Freeing your mind (and your time) from constant digital distractions, enables you make more conscious, deliberate decisions. You move from reacting to bells and whistles to making thoughtful decisions about where and how to use your time and energy.
  • Let people know when you have hit your decision limit (or consciously choose to limit your decisions and let others know what decisions you will and will not be making). How does this work? Here are three examples:
    • I’ve been up since 5:00am, on calls since 6:30am, and still need to plan school work for the youngest kid, verify chores were done, and figure out what the husband meant when he texted “need to talk to you about work.” Youngest kid approaches and asks what’s for dinner. Answer? “I’m not making that decision tonight. Coordinate with the other humans in the house or fend for yourself.”
    • You look at your calendar and realize you have two projects due tomorrow and three critical meetings today. You block all open spots on your calendar. Thirty minutes later your favorite work human reaches out asking for 20 minutes today. Answer? “I would love to spend 30 minutes with you tomorrow. Can you send a meeting for 10:00am?”
    • Your team has been coming to you for permission to do things you already empowered them to do. You call a quick huddle and ask what happened to cause this change in behavior. They provide feedback. Answer? You reset expectations and reinforce your confidence in their ability to make the decisions. 

Decide to Stay

Persist in existence. Pure and simple, this one means deciding to stay on this planet. For those of us who have and continue to fight depression, life exhausts us, sometimes in horrifying ways. Some days persisting, staying, whatever you call it, feels almost impossible. And some days we decide it is impossible.

Please don’t give up. Don’t wait until you hit your wall. When you feel the haze engulf you, call for help. Reach out to a friend (or even a stranger if they are the only one you see). Sing SnoopDog opera style. Whatever it takes. Stay. Please.

The Art of Tenacity starts with taking action on what matters most to you, slowing down (because very few decisions require your attention NOW), and deciding to stay. Depending on the day, these may seem like insurmountable obstacles. Keep practicing your art one day, one minute, or even one second at a time. Every try matters and moves us closer to mastering our artistry and beginning to thrive.

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