What Tough Times Require

By Pegine Echevarria

Everyone experiences tough times, that is just how it goes. How you react to those times can change how your team produces, how your family reacts to the situation and how you feel physically and emotionally.

Tough times can be described by an isolated issue (low cash flow) or a combination of issues (child in trouble, parents’ ill, low cash flow, mergers at work). It is easy to fall into the trap of going into automatic pilot and reacting as you always have.

The silent treatment towards everyone, the drama queen/king, the pity party whine fest, or perhaps the stoic martyr. None of these behaviors helps to resolve the issues, in fact they just make matters worse.

Each of the behaviors described above are driven by self centeredness. It is all about me, you see! The truth is the issues aren’t about you at all. You and only you are making it about you.

Too often people only focus on what is going wrong in their world and not about what is working right. The merger isn’t about you…its just business. Your child’s trouble isn’t about you… its about him and his choices.

Your parents’ illness isn’t about you… it’s about their health and the communication clash is only about you because of your own behavior towards your spouse, you can’t change them, only yourself.

So what can you do about tough times?

First, as my friend Jerry suggests ‘focus on the water’. Jerry kayaks and he found that when he was in treacherous waters if he focused on the rocks he crashed, yet when he focused on the open water he avoided crashes.

Focus on what is working right in your life, at work, in your marriage, within your own child. What is working right, what are they doing well, what are their strengths. If you can’t find any, ask someone to point the strengths and good things out. You may be too blocked to see them.

Second, take time to really appreciate what you do have. My 17 year old recently went to India for 21 days. During her time there she went with a friend of ours to a poverty stricken section in a small town. She came back transformed.

Before she left she compared what she had with things her wealthier friends had. She realized all that she had, she realized all that Americans have and take for granted and she is different for it. How about you? Do you appreciate all that you have? Sometimes we get so busy looking ahead at where we are going that we forget to look behind from where we came.

Third, help someone get what you want. For instance, if cash flow is low then help someone’s business make money by referring business. Need a car, find someone who needs transportation and help them. Help someone succeed.


1. Recall a time when things were tough. Looking back did your drama, silent treatment, pity party or anger help you or the situation?

2. Recall a story that you read about or that someone shared with you about a tough time they went through. Was it worse than what you are going through now? Did they survive and succeed? Will you?

3. Recall a time when you just knew you were alright even though things didn’t look that way. Know that you are alright right now.