white textile on blue plastic laundry basket

In case you’re having one of those weeks, let me help you instantly feel better by sharing with you what happened to me on one particular Monday morning.

Sunday night, I started a load of laundry in my oversized, high-tech, front-loading washing machine. Come Monday morning, I hear it running.

Strange. It should’ve been done by now.

Upon investigation, I discovered the machine was off but water was coming into the detergent compartment. I tried to do some quick troubleshooting, but to no avail. I figured it had been going on all night, so the water must be draining somehow. I decided to deal with it after I took the kids to school.

I come home twenty minutes later and walked into a pool of sudsy water all over the hardwood floor of our basement. The washing machine door was wide open and BUCKETS of water was pouring…and I mean P-O-U-R-I-N-G out.

I quickly slammed it shut and surveyed the basement. How was I going to clean this up?? And I had no idea how to turn off the water and no clue where the main water valve was (an important lesson here that needs no further explanation). We’re tenants and I never bothered to find out. I called our landlord and she didn’t know either. “Go get help!” is all she could tell me.

I went outside and a neighbor was walking to his car. “Excuse me, we’re tenants here,” I said trying to stay calm. “My washing machine is flooding the basement and I need to shut off the water. Do you know where the main water valve is in these houses?”

“It’s in the furnace room, probably near your water heater somewhere.”

I went back in and looked around the furnace, but all I could find were the outside hose bibs. Crap.

I headed back to the laundry room to figure something else out. Suddenly, the door to the washer BURST open and water started GUSHING out. I mean like Niagara Falls GUSHING.

Oh. My. God.

I thought I was a pretty cool and collected person in emergencies, but, panic started to set in.

I felt like I was in a horror movie with a demon-possessed washing machine. It was out of control.

I slammed it shut again to keep those demons in, and ran back out to call on another neighbor.

“Can you help me?” I pleaded. “It’s an emergency.”

He ran in with me. The washing machine door had BURST open again. Water pouring out of it.

He couldn’t find the main water valve either. We tried to move the machine but it was too heavy filled with water. But, by some supernatural power, we were finally able to move it enough so I could reach behind and turn off the water.

The water stopped. And I remembered to breathe again.

“Happy Monday,” my neighbor called out as he left.

After I got everything cleaned up, I felt a bit embarrassed over how panicked I got. If I had stayed more calm, I would’ve thought to climb on top of the washing machine to get to the valve behind it. But I couldn’t think clearly to solve the problem more creatively. I was just reacting.

The lesson?

So what lessons can be learned when your washing machine becomes demon possessed, spewing water all over your basement destroying the beautiful hardwood floor?

My reaction certainly surprised me.

I’m usually a pretty calm person, but after the third time the washing machine door burst open with buckets and buckets of water gushing out, I legit went into panic mode.

There were two lessons I learned after that experience.

One, when you move in to a house, immediately locate your main water valve and mark it with an obnoxiously big tag.

Two, no good solutions come from panic.

What I realized later was that all I had to do was shut off the valve behind the washing machine, which I could’ve easily done by climbing on top of the machine to reach the valve. But I was in freak out mode and couldn’t think clearly.

And such is life with our most pressing problems, whether it is problems and challenges in our businesses, or our lives. We get in panic mode because sales take a sudden dip, cash flow is negative, we lost a big account, a job, a key staff member, or some other event upends our carefully laid out plans.

We get one-tracked and single-focused to just stop the chaos, and fail to see better, more creative solutions. (I would’ve felt pretty ninja climbing on top of a five-foot-demon-possessed machine spewing venom out of it’s mouth, and disempowering its deadly attack on me with one fell swoop).

I’ll take a flooded basement over a pandemic any day, but the second lesson applies just as well.

The economic impact the health crisis has had on many of us is real and, like a category 10 hurricane, will cause devastation for some, prosperity for others, and miss some others altogether.

Every day is different and unpredictable.

We don’t realize how much comfort we get out of our “routines” until some reality descends on you out of nowhere, weighs you down, and threatens to paralyze you completely.

And when you’re weighed down or panicked, or both, you will fail to see solutions and opportunities that will help you, your neighbors, and your clients and customers get through this crisis.

When you’re fearful, all you see is closed doors and bogey-mans everywhere.

On the other hand, when you’re hopeful and optimistic, you blaze past the bogey-mans and spot the opportunities, the hidden doors, and creative solutions — solutions that will probably require you to step out of your comfort zone, do things differently, take some risk.

Being optimistic is NOT an emotion, it is a choice to keep moving forward, do what you can with what you have, and not give up when you stumble or when things get hard.

The formula for success is the same — in or out of a crisis.

That means when reality sucker punches you, don’t lay on the ground nursing your wounds. Don’t hunker down and just react to what the world dishes out. Instead:

  • Preserve as much of your previous routines as possible, or create new routines with your family.
  • Find ways to help others.
  • Work out, go outside, get fresh air.
  • STEP UP your communications with your world, whether it’s your readers, your prospects, your clients, or your family and friends. Don’t cut them off. They need to hear from you. Email them, mail to them, send a printed newsletter, make videos, or find other creative ways to stay in touch.

If you’ve been just emailing your list, consider mailing to them now…a newsletter or a postcard. A physical piece of mail has a stronger presence, feels valuable, and is more likely to be read.

The world needs reassurance. If you are in a position to provide it, don’t miss your calling. The world needs you more than ever.

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