I think we’re all a little bit scared right now. I know I am.
I have three daughters who are 4, 3, and 6 months old. I don’t care what the statistics say about kids being largely immune to the effects of the coronavirus, as a dad it still scares me to imagine them getting sick.
I’m also scared for all the folks who are far less fortunate and prepared for this than I am: people who don’t have access to good information about what’s going on; people who don’t have steady work or income; people who don’t have the resources to prepare as well as they could.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of event with major repercussions we’ve only just begun to feel—from the medical to the financial to the political.
So yeah, of course I’m scared!
Here’s another, smaller way I’ve been scared over the past few weeks: I’ve been scared to push ahead with a big project for my website.
A few weeks ago, I was all set to launch a very big project. I was super excited—almost giddy with anticipation. It was something I had been thinking about for over a year and something I’d been working on steadily over the past few months.
Then, the coronavirus hit.
Immediately, my mind got swamped with worries and insecurities (yes, psychologists worry too!)
- You can’t release a big project now. People are scared, they’re worried, and they don’t have the attention or interest for a new project.
- People are going to think I’m callous or uncaring for launching a something while there’s so much fear, suffering, and uncertainty going on right now. I don’t want to be that guy who looks like he’s trying to profit in times of hardship.
- Just keep your head down for now. Hopefully, things will get better soon and then you can announce this project later.
For the last couple weeks, I’ve been going back and forth on this. And, if I’m honest, I had all but decided to freeze everything and take the head down approach.
And then I saw something that inspired me. A guy named Bryan Harris said this in on Twitter recently:
2 ways you can act today as a business owner: Which do you choose?
1: Offense. Attack. New angles. Rally team. Have best 8 weeks ever. Double ad spend. Book 100 new partnerships. Kill stuff and bring it home. ATTACK!
2: Defense. Save. Layoff. Cut ads. Scared. Hope and pray.
While the imagery is a bit much for my taste, it’s the spirit behind the message that really moved me:
When faced with a threat, our tendency is to either run or freeze—often getting stuck in the paralysis of uncertainty. This is typically what happens any time the stock market crashes. It’s often what happens when people get laid off from a job or find themselves on the other side of a divorce. And it’s the way I found myself reacting in response to the coronavirus and the plans I had for my website and the work I love so much.
What Bryan reminded me of was that there’s another way: We can fight. We can face up to the challenges in front of us courageously, proactively, and rationally. We can refuse to roll over and sit around fretting, imagining the worst, or merely hoping for something better. And instead, we can ask ourselves:
- How can I be useful or helpful in a difficult time?
- How can I grow and become better in the face of challenge and uncertainty?
- Even though every bone in my body is telling me to shrink back and play defense, can I redouble my efforts and go on the offensive?
This is a powerful mindset shift I think we should all consider.
Of course, playing offense and going on the attack doesn’t mean being naive. We should all be taking appropriate precautions for the very real dangers we face, including adhering to recommended techniques like social distancing and quarantining when appropriate.
I’m talking about how we choose to act within those confines.
Playing offense means meeting our challenges head on, proactively, and with courage. It means continuing to live and grow as best we can despite our current constraints and difficulties.
I’ve decided to ask this question of myself seriously and I’d encourage you to do the same: How can I play offense?
- Instead of sitting glued to the TV or your Facebook feed, what if you dusted off that old guitar in the closet and started playing again? Or started working on that novel you keep telling yourself you’re going to write?
- Instead of rehashing all your anxieties over and over again on the phone with a friend, ask if they want to be an accountability buddy for your new in-home exercise regimen or yoga routine.
- Don’t have time or energy to take up a new activity because you’re trying to work from home and watch your kids now that school and daycare have been cancelled? Seems like a good opportunity to work on being more patient with your kids (and probably, yourself).
Personal growth isn’t just for the good times. I believe we’re called to be our best selves all the time, but especially during challenging times.
Let’s be proactive and courageous instead of reactive and timid. Let’s see if we can use this challenge not just to survive but to thrive.
Here’s what playing offense and choosing to thrive looks like for me: I’m going to announce and launch the project I’ve been working on instead of putting it on the back burner out of fear.
I have no idea what’s going to happen. It could crash and burn because no one’s interested. People could hate it for all sorts of reasons I haven’t even considered. Maybe people will be totally indifferent to it. But all of that’s okay.
As a therapist, I spend hours and hours every day trying to help my clients become stronger in the face of adversity. My job is to help people build courage in the face of anxiety and insecurities—to push themselves and challenge themselves to be better even though it’s hard or scary or even painful.
I can’t very well talk the talk if I’m not willing to walk the walk.
So, here’s the plan: I’m starting a membership community for NickWignall.com called Growth Club.
What’s a membership community?
In a nutshell, it’s a way for my readers to support me and my work and also get access to extra content and material I’ve created related to personal growth, mental health, and wellbeing. Specifically, Growth Club members will get:
- Audio Versions of Weekly Articles. Don’t have time to sit down and read my weekly articles? No problem. Members can listen to them anytime—on your commute, folding laundry, working out, whatever works for you.
- The Secret Pod. A private podcast where I share quick tips for wellbeing and personal growth, mini book reviews, answer reader questions, and more.
- Nick’s Picks. Once a week, I’ll send you an email with links to my favorite things I read, watched, or listened to that week—most of them in the areas of psychology, wellness, and personal growth.
- Virtual Masterclasses. Deep-dive training sessions on a specific topic in emotional health and self-improvement. You’ll be able to watch these training sessions live and ask me questions and interact in real-time.
- Discounts & Early Access. Growth Club members get sneak peeks, early access, and the opportunity to provide input and feedback on new projects like upcoming courses and books plus discounts.
How much will it cost?
$9 per month. I want to price it as affordably as possible while also accounting for the extra time it will take me each week to produce and manage things.
Sounds awesome! How do I sign up?
In the past couple weeks, I’ve gone from incredibly excited to seriously disappointed and now I’m starting to get back some of that fire and enthusiasm.
It feels good just writing this and committing to putting it out there. I feel confident. I feel more in control. And in a time clouded by so much fear and helplessness, that feels really good.
Part of my hope for Growth Club is that it will be a powerful way for you to take action on your own personal growth goals, aspirations, and wellbeing—especially during challenging times like these. And if you resonate with Bryan’s idea of not rolling over when things are tough, and instead want to look at this challenge as an opportunity to grow and build and thrive, I think you’ll really enjoy it.
If you think Growth Club is something you’d be interested in, you can learn more here →
Of course, I understand that right now things are quite tough for some of us financially. So if it doesn’t make sense for you right now, that’s fine. I plan to be doing this for a while and you can join any time.
And even if you have zero interest in the community, I hope you walk away from this article with a shift in perspective. If you aren’t already, I hope you can think a little differently about how you will choose to respond to what is possibly one of the biggest challenges of our lifetime:
Are you going to play defense or offense? Are you going to merely survive, or make the choice to thrive?
Be smart. Be responsible. But don’t forget to be bold too.