First of all this is not as easy as a 1, 2, 3 formula. Thriving requires a lot of work, faith, self-confidence, a sense of purpose, positive input from others around you, and just stick-to-a-tive-ness also known as perseverance. I will touch on each of these necessary elements for thriving in drought in the following paragraphs. I like using the counseling term, “scaffolding” to describe our needs as we seek to thrive during the times of drought in our lives or businesses. The term scaffolding as used in construction is a temporary structure used to support a work crew and materials to aid in the construction, maintenance and repair of buildings, bridges and all other man-made structures. Scaffolding in education is a method of teaching that enables a student to solve a problem, carry out a task, or achieve a goal through a gradual shedding of outside assistance.
An important aspect in construction as well as in counseling is that it is meant to be temporary. Perhaps a way to look at scaffolding is that it is not your cheer leading squad, but more like your teacher or mentor for a particular aspect of your life’s journey. I had a person scaffold me as I was beginning to put my workshops together earlier this year. Joyce Feustel volunteered to hear my workshop presentation and provide me feedback based on her years of experience as a speaker. It was valuable scaffolding for me to eliminate such words or phrases as: so, um and OK out of my presentation. She also cued me in on my selections of words making sure they were not overly technical for my audience. It was a one-time event, but she was valuable for me as I was launching a new aspect of my counseling services. It is important during times of drought to look for those people willing to provide helpful suggestions or encouragement. They may not stay long in our lives, but are invaluable while they are there to scaffold us.
Faith, Family and Friends
I have met a lot of people through the business networking groups that I would call my friends. They have provided me scaffolding in the form of encouragement and reflection on options for gaining clients/customers for my services. I have felt the scaffolding as they believed in me and what I do professionally. I do not look them up regularly or call them for this help on a regular basis, but rather appreciate it at the time it is given.
My faith has also been scaffolding for me and too many others, their faith has been what sustained them through tough times. To have a trust in God, however you conceptualize him/her/it is important during times of drought because by acknowledging a higher or divine being you are trusting in a scaffold for your endeavors and life. You realize that though life changes, the path you are on has meaning, purpose and design. It is as much a scaffold to trust in faith as it is to trust in family or friends. You can trust that even if you’re going in a wrong direction, you will make it to where you are supposed to be eventually. A Leap of Faith can keep us alive (psychologically) in the times of drought. A Leap of Faith often takes us a long way… even while in the dark.
It can comfort us, provide insight from a deeper knowing, and seems to give us the “scaffolding” of other people or opportunities that arrive at impromptu times. I recently had that happen with my new office re-location. I had someone, who I did not know, pick up my name off a counseling bulletin board (digital) from when I responded to an ad. She opened the door for me to lease in a much better location for my clients.
Perseverance, Resilience and other Strange Behaviors
Often times Thriving in a Time of Drought means acquiring perseverance. An unfortunate fact, I know! In our society there are so many instant things we’ve grown to expect instant all the time. However, occasionally, I think of the people in agricultural societies that wait all summer for their crop to grow to full maturity. All the while, they are working hard to insure the crop is as productive as possible. They plow, plant at just the right depth in the soil, water and apply fertilizer and maybe kill bugs or weeds that infringe on making the crop productive. And they wait till the day is right for harvesting. It doesn’t sound anything like a Black Friday ad!
Perseverance can reap rewards that are long lasting because it gives you the tenacity to see your project, your business, your life through to the end with the best life-force or spirit possible. It is more than just waiting it out. It is working hard the whole time overseeing the product is the best it can be all the way through till it leaves your hands. Perseverance may require acquiring new resources, or looking harder for the right ad space, or realizing a change in the product needs to happen. Be encouraged as this is all due to your perseverance and not your neglect.
Resilience is also necessary for during the times of drought. Some synonyms for Resilience are pliability, flexibility, elasticity, suppleness and spirit. I like the last one, best! Resilience is the ability to move with the moment. For me that means adapting to new marketing software programs. I am fortunate in that I was working in corporate America when the digital age hit and learned to move from the hard copy formats to the electronic. Some others may remember that shift.
I am also fortunate to be an avid learner. I love learning although I’m sure I don’t pick things up as quickly as I used to. Being resilient will be different for each person and each industry. The best thing I think you can do is not expect things to stay the same. Expect change. It may be a minor or a major change, but in order to sustain yourself through the drought times, you will need to stay resilient and expect change.
Other strange behaviors is a fun idea to provoke in yourself during times of drought. I consider strange behaviors those things that are not goal directed toward your business or project or just moving your life out of drought. Prayer, going for long walks, finding enjoyment in solitude, or learning yoga. What new thing can you bring into your life during your time of drought? Times of business or personal drought can lead to depression, but including a new activity in your life can dispel depression. It might be the very thing that lets you survive. Read a book and make it in a different genre that you typically read.
A little over ten years ago I went on a cruise. I was in a difficult time in my life and making some transitions that were hard for me, and I decided to go on a cruise. It was the best thing for me. It challenged me. I could not find a girlfriend to go with me and so I went alone, but met so many really nice people and had such a good time. It is a place of fond memory for me now and speaks volumes to me now of my ability to find hope and joy in a time of drought by doing something different.
I want to acknowledge those individuals who feel they have been in a drought their whole entire lives or at least the better part of it. I have counseled some of them. There are more of these courageous, persevering and resourceful individuals than we know. Those individuals generally have considerable faith, self-confidence and resilience honed from years of standing on their own. They still have the hardships that come from not having the long term scaffold of people who have known them a long time and supported their transitions in life. They all have a strong faith in something “greater” that has “saved” them. Hats off to you!