The California Department of Financial Protection & Innovations closed Silicon Valley Bank on March 10. The NY State Department of Financial Services closed Signature Bank two days later.
If that didn’t create enough anxiety, a report out late last week claims that 186 more banks are at risk of failure if only half of the depositors decide to withdraw their funds. (Interestingly and strategically, the detail about half of the depositors withdrawing funds didn’t make the attention-grabbing, fear-inducing headline.)
I don’t bring this up in the Leadercast Blog to create more uncertainty but to acknowledge reality.
(There is the joke about the wise-old fish who passes two younger fish and asks, “How’s the water boys?” The younger fish swim on when one finally asks, “What’s water?”)
Life is uncertain, and media outlets profit from amplifying that uncertainty.
And while you should keep an eye on your financial assets, money is not your most important asset. Your mind is.
As John Milton wrote in Paradise Lost, “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”
So employ these simple strategies to protect it.
1. Study history.
I faintly remember the Savings and Loan Crisis of the early 1980s. I was a kid, and I knew my family paid the S&L for our house, and hearing about the S&L crisis was a bit unsettling.
There have also been the banking meltdown of 2008 and the bank run of 1929.
The fact that we are here again could mean that we are not very good at learning from our mistakes, and it also means that the history of humanity is littered with highs and lows, advancements and declines.
Studying history adds a level of perspective to our current reality that is invaluable.
2. Choose your stories wisely.
Matthew Kelly wrote, “To poison a person, poison the stories you tell him. To demoralize a person, tell her demoralizing stories. You will always be as confident and healthy as the stories you read, listen to, and tell yourself. We become the stories we listen to, read, and tell. That is the power of a story.”
At your core, you are a story person.
And you have more story choices than ever in human history. You must choose wisely the stories you listen to, from news to networks and podcasts to presentations–every storyteller affects your mind.
“Psychologists have found that people who watch less TV are actually more accurate judges of life’s risks and rewards than those who subject themselves to the tales of crime, tragedy, and death that appear night after night on the ten o’clock news.” (The Happiness Advantage, Sean Achor p. 53)
After listening to stories (in all their various forms), ask: how do I feel? Do I feel more hopeful and inspired? Do I feel more anxious and angry?
Then start discerning what to add and subtract in your story consumption.
Also, be extremely mindful of the stories you tell yourself.
3. Focus on your social connections.
Even introverts are designed to be a part of a pack.
For residents of the USA, this pill is hard to swallow. The myth of rugged individualism is baked deep into our culture, but it is precisely that–a myth.
Evolutionary psychologists explain that the innate need to affiliate and form social bonds has been literally wired into our biology. (Baumeister & Leary, (1995) The need to belong, Psychological Bulletin)
When we make a positive social connection, the pleasure-inducing hormone oxytocin is released into our bloodstream, immediately reducing anxiety and improving concentration and focus.
Each social connection also bolsters our cardiovascular, neuroendocrine, and immune systems, so that the more connections we make over time, the better we function. (The Happiness Advantage, Sean Achor p. 177)
This is especially important when you feel uncertain. You need to know you have help outside yourself.
The next time you feel anxiety and uncertainty rising in your gut. Pause and ask these three simple questions.
- Where does THIS fit historically?
- What stories am I listening to?
- Who can I reach out to for support?
It will help you protect your most important asset.