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Episode #11

4 Ways to Deal with Tough Work Situations

Show Notes:

Do you feel like 2020 is kicking your a** when it comes to your work or business? I'm here to remind you that these obstacles are all part of the process. In this episode, I'm sharing four ways to deal with tough work situations.

Failure is not opposite of success, it’s just a part of it.

Shit Happens (3:45)

Tough Work Situations that are Bound to Happen (3:45)
1. Remove Your Ego (3:45)
2. Understand that sometimes Plan B can be better than Plan A (6:33)
3. Give yourself some grace (8:45)
4. What would your idol do? (10:54)

The Recap (12:55)

One Liner: Failure is not opposite of success, it’s just a part of it. (13:39)

Chasing the Bight Side
Erin Foly life coach


Review the Transcript:

Hey, everyone. Welcome back to Business on the Bright Side. So in this episode, we get a little juicy and we're going to talk about how to deal with tough work situations, because I don't know about you, but I kind of feel like I've been getting my ass kicked this year with some things. And sometimes I just have to look in the mirror and remind myself that this is all just a part of the process. And sometimes we can feel like when we're starting a business or putting ourself out there that we're just in this pinball machine and we're just reacting and responding to any negative thing that gets sent our way and latching ourselves to it. And we don't have to do that. So in this episode, I'm going to talk about four ways that you can deal with tough work situations because you are stronger than anything that life throws at you. And in fact, you're going to come out better on the other side. So let's do this.

What's up, everybody. It is Jess Ekstrom and welcome to Business on the Bright Side. The podcast, where you can learn how to make a living and make a difference at the same time. Life is short and so is my attention span. So let's get started.

All right, I'm just going to say it, shit happens. And I think for a long time, I thought that it was me. Anything bad that happened in my job or with my business or with people in my business, was a direct reflection on me and my qualifications. And just, clearly I can't do this because I'm experiencing problems. But it actually wasn't until I started working with this life coach who I adore, her name is Erin Foley. And we started going through all of the things that keep me up at night. The things that I feel like I've been doing wrong and the tough work situations I've been experiencing and the things that I want to do and be with my life. I want to be a world renowned speaker. I want to be an author. I want to run these companies that make a difference in people's lives.

And once we started listing out the problems that I'm experiencing, she finally helped me bridge the gap between, I am experiencing these tough work situations because I am already achieving these goals. The problems that I'm experiencing as an author is because I already have a book out there. Or, the problems that I'm experiencing as a speaker or as a business owner, is because I'm already engaging with those things, I'm already in that arena. So sometimes when we are dealing with tough work situations or just stuff that happens in our job, it's not because we're on our way to our goals. Sometimes it's because we're already there. When we're in the arena, when we've made it, when we are engaging with the world, shit is going to happen, it's as simple as that. The more you put yourself out there, the greater things can come back in a positive way, but also sometimes in a negative way. You'll never get a great review or a bad review, if you don't actually create a product or do something about it.

So I realized that my path as an entrepreneur, as a thought leader, isn't about completely removing the negativity. It's about how to manage it and not just how to manage it, but how do I make myself and my company and my people better from it? So once we realized that it's all just a part of the process, it makes it a lot easier to bounce back when it happens. So I'm going to give you four ways that you can deal with the tough work situations that just are bound to happen. When we're putting ourself out there.

Number one, remove your ego. This is so hard to do, and it's something that I still struggle with. But if someone is giving you feedback or maybe something that's not so nice about something that you put out into the world, remember, you're trying to make the product better. It's not always about you. And so if someone said that, "Oh, this headband is too tight on my head." They're not saying, "Jess, you're a terrible person." I have to go back and look at the product. Is it the right size? Are we explaining it properly on the website?

So when you get tough feedback from something or something doesn't work right, or maybe something flops, it's not about you as a person, it's about the thing that you created. And sometimes we don't have to listen to everything that everyone says. We can listen to feedback that is constructive and feedback that is consistent, but we have to be able to remove our personal ego from the problem that we're trying to solve, so we can create the product that can solve that problem. But if we are so wound up in attaching ourselves and our identity to everything that we create, we will just get completely consumed with any negativity that surrounds that product.

So for example, I'm launching this new guided online journaling platform called Bright Pages, and we released it to a hundred members to test it out. And the goal for this test was to get out all the glitches. It's a technology platform. It gives you daily prompts and prompt pathways, so you can get a steady journaling habit. And when you create a technology platform, the minute you start getting users, stuff is going to break. Things are going to happen. And so I remember right before we sent it out to our first 100 users, I had to tell myself anything that comes back about Bright Pages is about Bright Pages. It's not about Jess. So if the login didn't work, or if the email wasn't sending properly with your daily prompt, or it wasn't archiving it correctly, or the tags weren't working and all of these normal glitches that happen when you're starting a technology company or really doing anything, wasn't about me, it was about the product that I was creating.

And therefore I was able to solve that problem and go in there with more of a clear head, rather than saying, "What does this say about me?" So number one, remove your ego from the problem. It's about the product. It's not about you. Number two, understand that sometimes plan B can be better than plan A. So when tough work situations happen, sometimes we classify things as tough because it wasn't a part of our original plan. So for example, one time I was recording videos for a Mike Drop workshop, and I probably did two hours worth of video recording for this course. And then I realized that my Yeti microphone that I was using was on mute. I'm going to give you a minute to just scream, whatever profanity, because I know that you know that feeling when you're like, "Oh my God, I just put in so much work. And all of it is wasted. And my day and this product is ruined and what am I doing here?"

I went over, I screamed into a pillow. And then I got back in front of the camera. I plugged in my microphone because the cord had fallen out, that's how it went on mute, and I started over. And I realized, because I was doing it again, the videos were better than the original take because I had already gone through them. I knew what to say. I knew what I wanted them to look and feel like. And so the videos were better after recording them again. So when you experience something tough at work and you have to either do it again or start over, tell yourself that the second time will always be better. The second time you do something is always going to be better, and plan B can be better than plan A.

Hey, real quick. Have you picked up your copy of Chasing the Bright Side yet? Chasing the Bright Side is my book that shows you how you can train your brain to envision a better world and start creating it. It was a Harper Collins staff pick, an Apple must listen audio book, and Publishers Weekly called it, "A spectacular debut." Also, my mom said she loved it, but she also loves everything, so let's just move on. Head to or go to wherever books are sold and get your copy of Chasing the Bright Side today.

So number three, give yourself some grace because you know what, if you didn't make this mistake now, you wouldn't know how to handle it when it comes up in the future. So I, at one point entered into this business agreement, and at the time, I had no idea what I was doing. I didn't know contracts, I didn't know all of these fancy terms. And I'm just like, "Cool. Sign here, sign there, blah, blah, blah," ended up being not such a great deal. And I was so mad at myself for not getting legal guidance, for not talking to people about it, and for just signing this contract, that frankly I shouldn't have signed and should have negotiated a little bit more.

But I realized that now I am a contract ninja. I invest into legal counsel. I have 12 people look at it before I sign anything. And if I hadn't had made that mistake years ago with that contract, I would've made it in a bigger way today. So when you make mistakes, you got to go easy on yourself, because if you're making this mistake now, it means that you're not going to make it in the future. And usually you can make the mistakes when the stakes are smaller. The stakes, what I had to lose when I made that mistake was much smaller than what I have to lose now. So I'm so grateful that I made that mistake early on, because I'm not making it in a super big way that I would do now, and I look at the fine print and I look at the contracts.

Number four, what would your idol do in this situation? So my idol is Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx. I absolutely adore her. I think that she is funny, strong, brilliant, resourceful. She is just literally everything I want to be as an entrepreneur, and as a leader. She even did standup comedy once, which I always knew she was my spirit animal. But after that, I was like, "We must have been separated at birth." But I so admire Sara Blakely's leadership style, how she handles her business, her sense of humor, people. I mean, I'm obsessed with her.

And so anytime I enter into a tough work situation, or if I have to let someone go, or I have to have a tough conversation with someone, or any of that, I say in my head, "What would Sara do in this situation?" And I channel my inner Sara and I take no crap from people, but I do it with a smile on my face. I stand up for myself, I advocate for myself. And all of a sudden, I'm transformed into this Sara Blakely personality just for a heartbeat, so I can get through this tough work situation, and those good qualities that she has about her, suddenly rub off on me. And so I want you to think, who is your work idol? Who is that person that maybe you know them, maybe you don't, but you just love their vibe, the way that they get shit done, the things that they do, their execution, their tone, their voice. How can you channel them when stuff goes wrong?

Jess Ekstrom:
How can you just for a moment, step into a role and say, "Yep, I'm Sara Blakely. I'm showing up at this meeting and I'm swinging for the fences. I'm asking for what I want and I'm not leaving until I get it." And sometimes when you give yourself permission to step into a role, that's something other than yourself, you can actually learn a lot about yourself when you do that. So just to recap, the four things I want you to do when you encounter a tough work situation. The first, remove your ego. It's not about you. It's about the product. Number two, understand that plan B can be better than plan A. Number three, give yourself some grace, because if you didn't make this mistake, now you would probably make it in a bigger way in the future.

Number four, what would your idol do? Channel your Sara Blakely or whoever it is, and step into that role. Because at the end of the day, when you are putting yourself out there, when you're creating stuff, when you're showing up on social media or you're stepping out in front of people, you're also giving people something to react to, to respond to. You're giving the universe something to react to, and sometimes that's not going to go well. In fact, it's inevitable. Anytime you put something out into the world, there's going to be something or someone that doesn't like it. If you look at any best-selling author and you pull up their book on Amazon, they're going to have thousands and thousands and thousands of five star reviews. But they're also going to have one star reviews, because that's just how it works. So keep putting yourself out there, keep showing up, understand that the tough parts are a part of the process. And I'll leave you with this. Failure is not opposite of success, it's just a part of it.

Thanks for listening to Business on the Bright Side. I'm your host, Jess Ekstrom. For all the show notes, head to and be sure to tell me what you thought of this episode on Instagram. And if you're picking up what I'm putting down, subscribe and write a review, wherever you consume podcasts, see you next time and keep chasing the bright side.

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