With all this overwhelming negativity around us, we have to be a bit more deliberate in finding ways to stay upbeat. Here are a few tips to help you with just that.

1. Don’t feel anxious for being anxious

Our brains are wired to prioritise negative messaging over positive messaging. Cavemen who dismissed that rustle in the grass as ‘probably just the wind’ didn’t stick around long enough to procreate. Our ancestors were those who paid attention to potential dangers, not those who ignored them. It’s in our DNA to be drawn to doom and gloom, and we shouldn’t feel bad for that.

2. Choose your sources selectively

Because of this wiring of the brain, we are more likely to click on videos of empty supermarket shelves or headlines with alarming predictions. Be conscious around which sources you check and how often, and question how staying up to date with all this negativity helps you make the right decisions. If it doesn’t, tune out. Instead, limit your intake by watching quality news just once a day.

Similarly, your friend who keeps warning you of armageddon is probably not a helpful resource; the panic he’s stirring up doesn’t help anyone. Even if he points you to supposedly credible research that predicts how many people will get infected, again, how will that help you? Be selective around who you listen to; national health organisations are a safe bet.

3. Look for upside

Your optimism is just lurking in the shadows waiting to be called upon. Try it for yourself by asking the following question: ‘What good could possibly come out of this bad situation?’. Here are a few answers from my direct network:

  • Now that events are cancelled, we have time to fine-tune our account plans, re-do that sales training, and finally agree on changing the qualification process;
  • This is a great opportunity to hone our phone pitches and improve our online webinars;
  • Now that I travel less, I am going to spend more time with the kids and eat well;
  • Now that the gym is closed, I can go running outside and get some fresh air;
  • Now that we all travel less, the climate could be better off.

4. Keep your chat group virus free

Many of our social media and WhatsApp chat groups provide a level of lighthearted entertainment and joy that (digitally) ties communities together. People who – unintentionally – hijack your chat group by constantly sharing their opinions about how bad it’s going to be, can undermine that joy and, hence, the sense of community. If you notice people tuning out, isolate your group from the virus and suggest to create another chat group dedicated to coronavirus views. Especially now, your digital communities should not serve as an amplification of all that doom and gloom, but as a counterweight. Protect it.

5. Encourage rational thinking

We’re all on edge and fear is everywhere. That doesn’t mean we should not ask critical questions, or stop looking for a more positive narrative. That’s unlikely to come from the media so it’s up to us to encourage more rationality. When you make an important decision, consult people with a more balanced view rather than one devoid of optimism.

6. Reach out (but don’t touch)

‘Social distancing’ is the right thing to do right now, but it can also lead to social isolation. Plan to regularly connect with your colleagues and friends – even if it’s just to shoot the breeze or share a joke. Don’t limit yourself to chat or text messages – do regular video calls to really get a sense of how someone is holding up. Agree that the aim of such calls is to come out with a more positive mindset, not to share the latest alarming stats. Make sure to extend such check-ins to the wider community, particularly elderly neighbours and people who have lost their jobs.

7. Count your blessings

Just before you go to bed, the late night news or a quick glance at social media will alert these ‘rustle in the grass’ receptors in your brain. Every night before it shuts down, pull your brain back into positivity, by expressing (out loud) three good things that you experienced that day. For instance:

  • I progressed a deal and locked in a new meeting;
  • The sun felt nice and warm during my walk around the block over lunch;
  • Christine told a really funny joke during our conference call.

Whatever it is, end the day with some gratefulness. There’s a lot of good in our beautiful world and this challenge is sure to strengthen our communities and bring out the best in us.


Like to get more tips on how to get to target with a calm mindset and a smile on your face? In my new book, In the face of challenge: Perseverance in sales, I tell the story of my life-threatening kitesurfing accident that left me in a coma, and explore what my two-year recovery taught me about perseverance. I share over a hundred practical tips for AEs, CSMs, SCs, SDRs and their managers on how to deal with challenges in sales, and how to avoid them in the first place. For more details and a list of retailers who carry the paperback and ebook, see here.