Staying Stable in an Unstable World

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There are times when everything seems up for grabs. January 2008 has been one of those times. A client of mine, who is a financial services professional, recently related the discouragement surrounding his peers. The markets are volatile and economic indicators are negative. I asked him how market ''experts'' could be panicking. Isn't a down market an ideal opportunity to buy undervalued stocks, especially for those who have knowledge of and access to the good buys? The man on the street has understandable concern, but surely the experts would feel comfortable, even excited by the opportunities? Not so! Fear was the mood among his peers. The experts ''know'' the opportunities are there, but the ''feeling'' is driving their attitude and actions. This is a clear example of the danger of change, unless we keep focused and moving forward.

There are several critical steps we can take to keep us stable when events are chaotic:

Don’t Exaggerate — We all imagine that a problem is more global than it is. The situation is 100% terrible, it will never get better, and I have no skills to manage successfully is the usual trend in our thinking. STOPPING such global thinking is the first step.

Name Opportunities — Write down a list of possible opportunities. In my client’s case, good stock buys and gaining new customers who need advice during market instability were two big opportunities. Go over the list frequently, seeking to add new possibilities. Reviewing opportunities inoculates us against discouragement.

Identify Skills — Focus on the skills that will provide a benefit and advantage within the situation. My client’s ability to stay calm when others are panicking makes him a very attractive financial advisor, both to his colleagues and to clients. His financial experience is highly valuable when the markets are unpredictable.

Wipe the Slate Clean — Most of us focus on what has changed or what will never be the same. Marking a new starting place or new reality keeps us from always looking back and wishing for things long gone.

Seek Realistic Hope — Progress is a process. The markets will not become stable overnight, a new job will not arrive immediately, and a difficult situation will not magically improve. Realistic expectations will prevent a great deal of frustration and discouragement.

Expect More Change — Setting goals is important. Being flexible in re-setting goals is even more important. New information becomes available all the time. Being able to change direction flexibly is powerful.

Athletes do not be come strong, quick, and flexible overnight, and neither do we. Staying stable in an unstable world is a skill that can be implemented and developed — go for it!

About the Author

Barbara A. Kay, MA, LPC, RCC, of Advantage Coaching & Training works with individuals and organizations to build high performance. Barbara’s services include individual coaching, team facilitation, interactive workshops, and keynote speaking. For more information, please visit her website at or email her at
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