Yes, this is a crisis. Yes, there is uncertainty, chaos, restriction… isolation. Great!
We are built for times like this. Literally. Humans have only survived as a species because of our ability to survive the struggle. To overcome adversity, to find fortitude under fire.
In hard times we tap deep into our primal, autonomic biology – our immune, nervous and neurological systems – in order to survive. These are primal reflexes designed to protect the system during fight or flight. Automatic triggers that switch on if we come under threat of attack.
This is good. We can use this to our advantage during this pandemic experience. Even though the threat isn’t a tiger jumping out from behind a bush, the same systems are triggered by psychological, spiritual and perceived threats. Basically, if we believe we are under threat, we are!
This simplifies to stress response. And the same reaction occurs whether the stress is “out there” or “in here”. The stress response is triggered by both external and internal mechanisms, whether it’s a tiger attack, or a negative thought or emotion. But again, this is useful, if we understand how we can turn it to our advantage – to focus attention, elevate our attitude and switch from flight to fight.
There is a massive difference between a negative stress response (distress) and a positive stress response (eustress). Distress weakens us. Eustress provides the conditions for strength.
Distress is anxiety, fear, negative thinking, panic – it’s a downwards spiralling energy and it only breaks the system down, with no upside. Distress leads to dis-ease, sadness, anger and depression; negative emotions that cause us to shut down, close in, prioritise self over others and hoard toilet paper. Eustress, on the other hand, has an upside.
Eustress is applying stress deliberately, or perceiving stress as an opportunity, which gives it an upwards spiralling energy. Eustress is hitting the gym, applying stress in order to grow. Eustress is a window to overcoming struggle, succeeding against the odds, feeling like a bad-ass motherfucker and being rewarded with self-earned confidence. It is a choice to be the warrior, and not the worrier.
It is a choice to be the warrior, and not the worrier.Tweet
The determination of which type of stress we decide to feel – yes, I believe it’s a choice – is our perception of the situation. Are you going to run and hide – welcoming distress & weakness – or are you going to perceive the crisis as eustress and use it to become stronger?
And so back to the link with immunity. When we step into eustress, we boost our attitude and this literally supports better immune function. You know when you have work deadlines and you smash 70+ hour weeks full of all-nighters for weeks on end, and then when you relax afterwards, you get sick. That is your immune system responding to your attitude.
Your immune system is designed to support you when you’re in fight mode. When you hold an attitude of “Fuck it, I got no choice!” and you crack on with what needs doing, as in the work example (or crushing a gym sesh), your immune system steps up has your back.
Right now we need our immune systems to be on fire more than ever. We need that protection. So now is not the time to go soft, to be weak, to relax. And don’t think for a second that you have a choice. You don’t. These are unprecedented times, collective challenges not felt since the world wars, and you are either coming out of this thing stronger, or weaker than you went in. Your choice.
What we are going through is a biological, psychological, social & economic threat. It’s natural to feel uncertain. Hell, it’s natural to feel like the world as we know it is ending, and it probably is…
But how you choose to respond is 100% up to you. Are you going to adopt a distressed, crisis, victim mentality, and give in to weakness, supplication and vices? Or are you going to choose to win, to adopt the warrior’s mind and harness your primal drive for growth, self-worth and power?
Now is the time to step up, take action, get at it. Time to kick yourself into a higher gear, get more focussed, more diligent, more focussed on what you can control and less concerned about what’s going on “out there”.
Attitude is immunity. And strong attitude is strong immunity; weak attitude is weak immunity.
What better time than right now to dig deep and prove to yourself – and those who are watching you, just how strong you can be.
I think it’s important to remember that someone is always watching. Whether it’s your own inner dialogue & habitual neurology, or for parents maybe it’s your kids, and for leaders and influencers, it’s those you’re supposedly leading and influencing.
So you know what, be fucking influential. Be a goddamn leader. Be someone that it’s worth aspiring to become. Be so powerful and committed in your ability to create yourself through adversity, to be the beacon amidst the storm, that those looking to you for guidance have to level-up just to match your baseline.
Make you non-negotiables (your daily habits) seem like a challenge – a challenge you rise to. every. single. day. No excuses. No days off.
That’s how you lead, and that’s the attitude that will get you through this crisis with a purple heart, and not PTSD.
Easy times make weak men. Weak men make hard times. Hard times make Strong men. Strong men make easy times.
Easy times make Weak men. Weak men make Hard times. Hard times make Strong men. Strong men make Easy times.Tweet
Guess where we are in that cycle?
Damn straight! It’s time to see these “hard times” for what they are – an incredible opportunity to carve your best self. Times like these do not come around often, and most of us will never experience this sense of incarceration, isolation, removal of material gain and limitations on freedom of movement, without spending time in prison.
So it’s fucking go time. Yes, these might be exceptionally weird and trying times, but for those of us willing to see the opportunity, these can be the most useful, self-defining, confidence-building times we’ve ever seen.
Let’s wrangle this adversity and turn weakness into strength. Let’s commit to our non-negotiables. Set a plan. Stack those fucking wins, every morning, every day, and put in the work to prove to yourself and those you inspire that you are someone worth following.
Get at it.