Living your Story and Surviving the “Downs” – in business and in life

All of us are living our stories -

all of us, you , me , we, journeying through life.

And all of us, you, me, we will journey through ups and downs - in business as much as in life.  Wouldn't it be lovely if life were a straight line, rising, always rising until we reached nirvana?  Wouldn't it be lovely if our business lives were the same - always improving, growing the business, making sales, improving the lives of our customers  simply, pleasantly and easily?

Unfortunately it's not, not always simple, pleasant and easy.  And yet, that's how the learning, the rising, happens. It seems we can't gain wisdom in some things without going through the ups and downs - the challenges, the learning, and sometimes that learning can be painful.

In Story Framework terms it's progressing through the story arc - going along a horizontal road, and then challenged, and falling down, down, down, through challenge after challenge, into the pits, maybe despair, maybe overwhelm, maybe confusion, maybe lost.  We slide into those pits and I don't know about you, but I don't like being there. It's painful and confusing and not at all how I wanted life to be. It takes resilience to sit it out, to sort it out, to find the way out and up, up to the learning and growth.

I like that we can know that we are all living stories, though, and that we can recognise that this is normal, this diving down before we rise.  It's reassuring.  So we have acceptance that this is what life is like - full of ups and downs, or visits to the pits before we can see the sunlight again, following that story arc over and over as we face new challenges, new learnings, and that everyone does it at times, and that people have been going through the process for centuries - the stories tell us so!

That acceptance is vital, I think, to maintaining some sort of hope and sanity and faith through the rough times, through the bottom points of the story arcs.

But sometimes the resilience is hard to come by.

How do you achieve it? ...........

In the stories there are all sorts of ways to survive the "downs".  Fairy tales and fiction are full of them, and I have been compiling some of the best for an upcoming workshop, but the one I want to use today is particularly special, and it belongs, I think, to some of the best stories - an unexpected twist.

I was reminded of it as I was out walking yesterday afternoon among the trees and rocks, and remembering where in my own story it suddenly rose up at a particularly difficult time.

It began about 25 years ago, when my husband and I had two little boys and we brought my mother down to live closer to us after my father died.  It became increasingly obvious that something was wrong, and it wasn't just grief and shock.  She was diagnosed with dementia and the years that followed were difficult ones indeed as we supported her through the stages of aged care for dementia patients.  It is heart-breaking to watch a parent become a child, in effect. Eventually, she lost speech and became bedridden, this beautiful woman who had held me in the comfort and warmth of love and joy and gentle challenge, humour, intelligence and unconditional love for so many years ... though somehow the love never diminished.

It is a horrendous thing to face, and yet to visit any of these facilities is to be denied the sorrow and misery and taken into a place of uplift.  The staff create an environment of constant positivity, well certainly while I visited, so there was a strange dichotomy of horrifically challenging change and loss superimposed with the atmosphere of positivity, calm and care.

My mother reached the end of her life. I arrived at the building and was allowed time to spend with her.

Again it was disconcerting that though I knew logically that she was dead, it seemed that she was just asleep.  I could not comprehend that she had gone.  There were the hands that had stroked my hair, peeled vegetables for dinner, held mine with such love and care, just the same and yet ...not.  It was a surreal experience, and so incredibly sad, compounded by the whole place with its seemingly senseless loss and heartbreak.

I had to leave the room.  There was no way to say any momentous goodbye, so I just said it as though I would see her next time she woke.  With a realisation that there was nothing left to do, I walked out and waited for the staff to come and move me to the next phase.  I was bewildered, hurt, confused, feeling surreal, looking out of the door at the garden, neglected, obviously in the throes of being rejuvenated, just bare dirt and sticks and dead leaves.

Yet in the middle of this desolation there was a red geranium - the flower my mother was so happy to grow in the dry country she had gone to to make her home when she married.  Beautiful, glowing, yet ordinary and just there, suddenly, in the middle of the ugly, dead disorder.

And my heart lifted.  Not high, but it lifted, focused, found hope and love and an acceptance of what was and what would be.

The memory stayed, and rises every so often as those memories do - signposts that something was learned there, though it may not have been obvious at the time.

So resilience comes, survival in the pits comes - from many processes and this is just one.  I suppose it could be called Stop - Look - Truly See. Sometimes we have to stop - stop the control, stop the expectation of how things will be, stop the train we had put ourselves on.  Looking means being open, through the senses, in this case the eyes, to something - not knowing, not controlling, not following any particular path to knowledge or understanding.  And something that might have just been something ordinary and not important in everyday life, somehow takes on significance, beauty, as a signpost for change.

When I am despairing, or bored, or overwhelmed with the technology at my desk, I go outside. When a presentation will not coalesce, a marketing message will not distill, I drop it all and go outside. We have ordinary gum trees along our back fence - nothing special, but if I take the time to just look up - at the trees, the leaves towering up there and the blue sky in between, my shoulders drop, my despair and overwhelm drop away and I can settle and return to the challenges, rejuvenated, with a new approach, a new way of communicating the message.

Of course that is just one little mundane challenge in life.  Sometimes they are huge, the pits, the bottoms of the story arcs, and they stay.  And that's when we have to keep returning, keep going to those solutions, keep being open to creative ways that we learn the lessons the story wants us to learn so we can return to the surface, rise out of the despair/challenge/discomfort and change and grow into the speakers/humans we need to become.

What is it that you Look and See already, or that you might use next time you are journeying through the downs of life (and business!)?

Change By Choice


One of the most effective ways in dealing with stress is to change by choice. You see, if you don't change by choice, sooner or later, you'll have no choice,but to change. What do we mean by this? Our own conscious mind is constantly giving us feedback. It's like a barometer. How we're tracking in our life.

We need to look at this both in our personal life and we can look at it in business life to make things more effective and give us more options. When you change early, you have many options available and the job is easier. While we tend to resist change, let's face it, change is the only constant. Night changes into day, day into night. We change our clothes every day. We change the food we eat.

pivotal change

These are things that are easy to do, but when it comes to more serious things in our life, we tend to stick to our old ways because it takes more effort to make those changes. Let's look at it more in our personal life to begin with. What if you're put on a few kilograms, if you'd take note of this, your own conscious mind is giving you a signal, manifesting as a physical sense in your body that what you're doing isn't working.

It's easier to reign in when it's just a few kilograms, but if you ignore it, and the weight becomes more of a problem, it becomes a harder task, doesn't it? Also, other health problems may come into play. Then you not only have to make changes with how you're dealing with food, but now you have to change how you're going to deal with these other health problems. This compound becomes more difficult. Your options become restricted.

What do you do about if you know you need to lose weight? Instead of changing to the next fad diet that comes along, you need to change the relationship you have with food, because you know the last 20 diets didn't work, so why would you expect something different? If you have aches and pains in your body and you have a belief that it's just your age or it's just a part of your life and you adhere to this, and maybe it's even reinforced by other people telling you the same thing. The same limiting beliefs.

What if you were to change the way you think about. What if you will do things to become more flexible? Develop a more flexible body, and usually a flexible body and a flexible mind go hand and hand. Just as the same as a rigid body and a rigid mind go hand in hand and we get stuck in our ways.

As things get worse, become more complicated, our options become fewer. To the point where you have no more options. You either change or you pass a tipping point where nothing else can be done. By developing a flexible body and a flexible mind, this allows you to bend more before you're going to break. Work easier, cope with stress more effectively.

If you're suffering with stress, if you don't do the necessary things to deal with stress, then as the systems become overloaded, it could turn into anxiety if you don't deal with this effectively and pull it back to normal states of stress.

The final stage, when the resources run out more and more, this can lead into depression. This is when all resources have run out and the unconscious mind says, "I have nothing else available to you."

Let's look at this in the business world. There are always disruptors. We're seeing it in the transport industry at the moment, and the resistance to women in the boardroom, from those trying to adhere to the old ways, "We have always run the system, and we won't change. If they don't change, they'll have no more options and soon they'll be out of business.

To give you an example from a book of Forbes which is going back a few years now but it's still quite relevant. In 1987, Forbes celebrated their 70th anniversary and they put out a list of the top 500 companies. By the year 2000, just 13 years later, more than half of those companies were out of business. These were the companies that refused to change. They rested on their laurels and thought, "We've been successful. We don't need to change."

Any company that thinks "We've always done it that way, we're not going to change because this is a way it is and we've been running the industry are in for a rude shock. Well, the disruptors have always been there. Go way back to Gutenberg. The invention of the printing press. Look how amazing the invention of the printing press was, what a great disruptor it was at the time, but how it empowered people so much.

Nowadays, we have modern day disruptors. In the transport industry, and in the accommodation industry. Those that try to hold on those old ways, those who resist change, eventually get squeezed out because their options become fewer and fewer. Instead of resisting, play the same game, learn what the new rules are. When you take action early, this eliminates the stress because the bigger the problem gets, the more stress is involved. Then you've got to start putting more things into play to the point where you either change by choice or have no choice but to change.

Many people have the attitude that "If only the world would change, my life would be better".

You see, when you change, you alter the dynamics, so people, circumstances and events have no choice but to change. This empowers you to influence things for the better.

Over the next few years, 40% of jobs are just going to disappear. What are you going to do to stay ahead of the game? You need to be constantly looking, how can I improve things, how can I tweak this, what changes do I need to make NOW


1. Do nothing, hold on to your limiting beliefs, and think you have no control over things.

2. Wait for the inevitable, to the point where you really do have no option but to change.

3. Change early, when you first get the sign, empower yourself, and take control of your life.


Start looking at things in your life. Take notice of what your unconscious mind is telling you. These things that are manifesting in your life. Learn to read your barometer, know what to leave and what to change. Change early, change by choice or know that you eventually have no choice but to change.

Which choice are you going to choose?

Copyright 2016

Ray Goslin is the founder of Specialising in stress and pain management systems which allows you to Change by Choice with the "Lifestyle By Design Project" For more information go to