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How to Be Mindful in The Face of Challenge

Susan L Reid

Most of us have heard of the "stop-drop-and-roll" method. 

Itís considered to be the most efficient technique for extinguishing fire on a person's clothing.

Well, did you know that you can also use this same method to help you put out small business fires?

As a small business coach working with women starting up businesses, I have helped thousands of women put out all types of business fires. No one likes it when a fire occurs. And everyone, once it's over, asks, "How can I prevent this from happening again?"

Well, in truth, you can't. Fires will happen.

However, you can learn how to deal with fires differently, in a way that leaves you feeling calm, centered, and sure.

How? By taking the proven stop-drop-and-roll method and applying it to any fireólarge or smallóthat flares up in your business.

I call it the ďstop-drop-and-roll mindfulness method.Ē Itís a powerful tool that the small business owner can pull from her toolbox anytime to create mindfulness in the face of challenging situations.

DetourAre You a Reactor or a Responder?

When faced with a challenge, most people have an automatic knee-jerk reaction that comes from a place of fear. When you're mindful, you do just the opposite.

Instead of reacting out of fear, you respond out of wisdom.
Instead of a knee-jerk reaction, you find a response that is more thoughtfully considered. Instead of reacting emotionally, you find yourself responding mindfully.

Look at the list below. Decide if you are more of a reactor or a responder. Put a check mark beside the statement that is most like you in each of the paired choices.

1. I make assumptions from an ironclad point of view.I remain open to other perspectives and opinions.
2. I defend myself.I explain situations.
3. I often repeat myself, getting louder and more animated each time.I am a clear and direct communicator, preferring not to escalate the situation.
4. I use judgmental and defensive phrases, such as: "Why did you do that?" or "You never told me that."I use inviting, open-ended questions, such as: "Could you tell me more about that?"
5. I need to be right.I want to be heard.
6. I place blame outwardly by using "you" statements.
I take personal responsibility by using "I" statements.
7. I get angry when the other person and I donít agree.I know that itís okay to ďagree to disagreeĒ and donít feel the need to force a resolution.

If you're like most people, you have check marks in both columns. Nevertheless, look to see where the majority of your check marks are. Are you more of a reactor or a responder?

One way or the other, you'll find the stop-drop-and-roll mindfulness method very helpful in putting out your small business fires. 

Hereís how it works:

The Stop-Drop-and-Roll Mindfulness Method

Step One: Stop.

If you find that your clothes are on fire, stop. Donít fan the flames by running. Stop

This is also good advice when you find yourself reacting to a business fire.

Although your natural instinct may be to fight for your position, defend yourself, or run from conflict, resist the urge to do so. The first step in becoming mindful is to simply stop. As Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn says, "Smile, breath and go slowly."

When a business challenge arises, you probably think it needs immediate attention and action. In truth, however, it rarely does. Find a way to stop what you are doing. Don't try to pat the fire out or run. Simply step back, table your reaction, and breathe.

Step Two: Drop.

If you're in a fire situation, drop to your knees and lie down on the ground. Noxious fumes and heat rise. Thatís why itís important to drop so you can breathe cooler air and not burn your lungs.

This is great advice when you feel your own emotional heat rising.

Emotional flames can go from 0 to 60 in seconds. Therefore, to stop your fire in its tracks, simply drop. Take yourself out of the heat of the moment and allow yourself time to calm down. Drop by writing in a journal, taking a short nap, or listening to soothing music. Do whatever it takes to calm yourself and breathe cooler air.     

Step Three: Roll.

Once you're down on the ground, roll. Rolling is the best way to smother and put out the fire.

When it comes to business fires, what does it mean to roll?

It is awfully hard to figure out what needs to be done with a business fire if you are emotionally on fire yourself. So before taking any further action, itís best to roll. Just allow the emotional fire to abate. Remember Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu's query: "Do you have patience to wait Ďtil your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving Ďtil the right action arises by itself?" Doing nothing, or rolling, may give you a clearer picture of how to proceed than taking action ever could.

Three Tips to Consider While the Mud Settles

  • Be willing to suspend judgment for a moment and just listen. Go within. Sit in silence for five minutes. Focus on your breathing. Notice the world around you. Become comfortable with the stillness. 

  • From a calm, mindful state, figure out which of your "hot buttons" got pushed. Smile. Breathe and release. Now, move forward with a calm, mindful strategy. Take your time. Make your actions deliberate, not rushed or random. 

  • As new thoughts, feelings, and choices bubble up from within and a way to face your challenges presents itself, take action on one thing at a time. Single-task; don't multi-task.

EasyThe next time youíre presented with a business fire, donít make it worse by fanning the flames with reactivity. Instead, respond with wisdom by using the stop-drop-and-roll mindfulness method. If you do, you'll be creating a space from which new thoughts, choices, and behaviors can emerge. As a small business owner, youíre bound to face plenty of fires.

Donít get burned. Stop, drop and roll.

Copyright © 2011 by Susan L. Reid

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this blurb with it:

Copyright ©2011 by Susan L. Reid, DMA

Dr. Susan L. Reid is a Small Business Expert and Business Catalyst for spiritually conscious women starting up businesses. She is the award-winning author of Discovering Your Inner Samurai: The Entrepreneurial Woman's Journey to Business Success.

If you're interested in finding out more about what steps you can take to ensure your lasting business success, then get instant access to your own free copy of Turn Your Business Dreams Into Reality Toolkit at

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