The truth is, times are tough. Financially the global markets are volatile, people’s wallets are tightening, and fear is prevalent. (If you are still in denial about the current economic state, please stop listening now. There is nothing I will say that will change your perspective.)

During times like these, you have a choice: will you survive the times, or thrive? This is not a choice you make once. This is a choice you make day-by-day, minute-by-minute. It is the kind of choice that defines whether you will choose to be a victim of circumstance, or a leader.

No one told WestJet that 2008 wasn’t a good year to be a Canadian airline. With fuel prices soaring, the industry has yet to recover. The competition, Air Canada cutback capacity by 7%, canceled flights, added a fuel surcharge, charge passengers for a second bag and laid off 2,000 employees. Zoom Airlines, another competitor, went bankrupt in August 2008. WestJet too added a fuel surcharge in May, but removed it in September. They do not charge for a second bag and have increased their capacity by 18% this year. They have ordered new planes for their 14 new destinations that will be offered by 2013. And they’ve expanded to a recent partnership with Southwest Airlines. What is the difference between these companies?

The economy affecting these airlines is the same, but it is how they’ve responded to it. WestJet is a leader in building its brand as a low-cost, reliable airline. The company has empowered all of its employees to consider themselves as owners. Despite their ‘profit sharing’ is the same bonus that the other airline employees get, these “WestJetters” take customer service and satisfaction to the nth degree above the competition. Why? Because they are building a culture of leaders at every level. In difficult times, WestJet didn’t pull back on this brand, culture and focus on employee leadership ~ they increased it. More training, more leadership from above-down. More focus on the corporate culture and customer satisfaction.

How will you fair the tough times?
It depends on your leadership. Your life is not defined by the big accomplishments, the fancy car or goals you’ve reached. Your lifestyle might be defined by these things, but your life isn’t. Your life is defined in the small daily acts of greatness. The choices you make in each moment, that move you toward the life of your dreams or keep you stuck where you are. Leadership starts with you. If you can’t lead yourself, how can you expect to lead others?

As a leader, you must lead by example. Live the chiropractic principle of health & wellness; that life comes from above-down-inside-out. It is time for self-leadership, to become an extraordinary human being. Show them the way out of panic and despair by your thoughts and actions. In an airplane you need to put your oxygen mask first, before you can assist others. The change has to start with you. Tough times can’t be controlled. Part of the key is to recognize what you can control when times get tough: and that is how you respond to it. Trying to control the uncontrollable will lead to misery and anxiety.

Just watch the amount of antipsychotics prescribed in North America increase during stressful times like these. Reflect back on other tough times during your life and how you’ve responded to them? If you just survived them, you will probably be responding to our current economic times in the very same way. Survival is repeating the habit of how you deal with a setback, resulting in the same behaviors over and over, every time stress occurs.

Recently I attended a webinar from the Institute for Health and Human Potential ( on How To Survive in Turbulent Times. This organization is teaching leaders of Fortune 500 companies around the world how thrive in difficult times. The webinar opened with a public statement of the financial state of the U.S., outlining massive bailouts and economic crisis. But this public statement wasn’t from the year 2008, it was referring to the Savings & Loan Crisis of 1988. The US survived that crisis in 1988, but did the government learn from it? My guess is not, if we are repeating almost the same situation 20 years later.

We must learn and grow from every turbulent experience to thrive, not just survive. Thomas Leonard, the founder Coachville, the world’s largest association and training for personal and business coaching also founded the profession of coaching itself. His distinctions have had a huge impact on my life as a human being and now as a coach.

I am going to paraphrase a powerful distinction between Reacting/Responding and Overresponding.

  • A reaction is a survival-based, knee-jerk behaviour.
  • A response is a reply to a problem.

It may be thought out and involve deliberate action, but it merely nips a problem in the bud, there is no chance of prevention or solution.

Overresponding, however, is finding opportunity where most people find an obstacle. The example Thomas Leonard uses is this: “Wanting a service you cannot find and starting a company to supply it is overresponding. Searching high and low for an existing company is responding”. Overresponding ensures that the problem will never happen again. Reactions are usually short-term band-aid solutions, like a bailout. An overresponse would be to ensure the situation never arises again. We learn and grow from the crisis we thrive. We don’t just survive it.

In my work as a facilitator for the Institute for Health and Human Potential, we recognize that our behavior during stress is usually a “reaction”. But what causes this behavior? The real key to managing behavior is this: emotions drive behavior. We must learn to manage our emotions, or gain Emotional Intelligence, to successfully manage ourselves, and therefore, our behaviors. The same applies in our role as a leader: how effectively can you help others manage their emotions to avoid self-destructive and self-defeating behaviors? Have you ever tried to modify someone’s behavior?

We have all seen, or been, the parent in the grocery store with the child who is having a meltdown. If we attempt to modify the behavior, all is lost. We must seek to find the emotion driving the behavior to soothe it. The emotions affect and infect everyone around you. In difficult times, the emotion of panic is a virus.

  • How cleanly are you handling these emotions of stress and how are they showing up in your behavior?
  • What is it like to just survive tough times?
  • What does it mean to thrive?

Surviving is getting by. It means the best you can hope for is to bounce back. It is just like the person who comes to you seeking care so they can just be as good as they were before. The best they can hope for is Maintenance. Surviving means you didn’t go bankrupt, didn’t have to shut your doors.

Thriving, on the other hand, means you are learning from setbacks, growing as a person, adapting new ways of thinking and evolving your strategies. It is like the person who comes to see for care who wants to teach their body new habits, strategies and to overrespond so that they can be better than they ever have been before – Wellness Care. Thriving means changing the game. It means stepping up, playing big, and being a leader. Not responding the way you always have.

During tough times your clients are looking for hope. They want to be lead. It is your job to do it. In Seth Godin’s latest book, Tribes, the underlying theme is that people want a leader. And that one person can have an enormous impact on humanity. But it takes guts. And it takes belief: in oneself and in something bigger than oneself. It takes confidence, presence, and authentic connection. It means inspiring people.

  • As a chiropractor, are you embracing your role as a leader, for the people you care for and for the community?
  • Are you stepping up, playing big and being a beacon of light during these dark times?
  • Or are you shrinking back? For fear of criticism and fear of taking the risk?

It is a time to think different. It is a time to step beyond the comfort of what holds you back and keeps you stuck and it is a time to lead.

Firstly, start with yourself.
Commit to do what it takes to be the best person, the best in business and the best in life. Don’t know how to be a leader? Don’t know how to self-soothe your fears? Get coaching, read books, and better yourself. Invest in ideas and personal development. Like my friend and mentor, Arno Burnier, D.C. says, “Who you are as a human being precedes who you can be as a chiropractor”.

  • Step up the important aspects of wellness in your own life and lead by example.
  • Get balance in your Physical, Mental, Emotional and Spiritual realms and seek practitioners who can help you in these areas.
  • Do everything in your power to avoid negativity in uncertain these times.
  • May I suggest that you turn off the TV and other negative media and create a boundary for what type of conversations you are willing to have?
  • Surround yourself with positive people.
  • And think great thoughts.
  • Increase your daily learning to grow as a human being.
  • Commit to being the best person and chiropractor you can be.

Now is the time to go inward and work on yourself to build personal reserves. Don’t let the current situation shake you from your grounded, centered self. Now is the time – more than ever – that you need to stay focused on opportunities and not problems. It is the difference between surviving and thriving.

Secondly, lead others.
Give them hope. Inspire them. Empower them. During these times of deep uncertainty, watch what ideas you are spreading. It is a time to think different and to show people a way out of fear. The founder of IHHP says, “Clarity is the antedote to anxiety”. Our profession can do this physically with the adjustment and also with our leadership. Refine your skills. Become the best chiropractor you can be.

Give everyone who comes in contact with your office the Red Carpet VIP treatment. Improve your Visit 1 and 2, your Daily Interactions and how you deal with difficult questions. Now is not the time to play small. It is the time to Play BIG. Will you step up to be the beacon of light for your community that they so desperately need? At Rosen Coaching we can help. We all need coaching during challenging times. Why just survive when you can thrive?

Go to for free tools to get you started.