I love roller coasters!  Some people fight over the front car, others love the last car; my favorite place to sit is on the fence line around the roller coaster, watching the people riding the roller coaster!  While some are terrified, others are laughing and having the time of their lives!  It’s hilarious to watch!  While one person in a car is crying their eyes out and holding on for dear life, the person next to them in the same car has both arms held up towards the sky while they squeal for joy!  Why is that?  I think it’s pretty simple… you choose how you’re going to react to the ride.  Life tends to be the same way.  Someone once said, “Life is kinda like a roller coaster. It has its ups and downs… but it’s YOUR choice to either scream or enjoy the ride!”

Anyone who has been a leader or a business owner understands that life does go through its own series of ups and downs.  Unlike the massive wood or steel frames of roller coasters, life doesn’t let you see ahead of time where the peaks and the dips are coming.  But don’t doubt it, they are coming.  So how do you respond when you hit the Dip?  You know the feeling… that sickening, out of control feeling of dangerous floating.  Your stomach moves from your abdomen to just under your tonsils.  Your heart races, your head pounds, and your body tenses up not knowing what is coming next.

So how do you handle it when your revenue drops by 25%?  What about when there is a huge shakeup in the management team that oversees you?  Or when there are rumors of buyouts, layoffs or total collapse of your company or industry?  How do you handle the roller coaster?

A Time to Consider

When you hit the bottom of the hill in the roller coaster can actually be the best time of the ride for some.  They aren’t nearly as far away from the ground as they were, and they get a chance to catch their breath before climbing that next hill or doing the next loop.

Do the same thing in your life during the “dip”.  Take the “down time” as an opportunity to catch your second wind and evaluate your circumstances.  During those times where deadlines for productivity and providing services may not be so great, evaluate what might have lead to or exaggerated the “dip”, and consider your options for moving forward.  Some dips are unpreventable, while others are self-inflicted.  Analyze your own situation to determine which it is, and what you can do to set things on a positive course.

A Time to Change

Ever see the girl lose her purse, or a guy have his sunglasses fly off partway through the roller coaster ride?  Didn’t they see that mammoth ride when they were standing in line?  Didn’t they realize they needed to secure that stuff somehow?  But they didn’t!  They saw the potential risks, and may have even seen the same happen to someone else, but they didn’t prepare themselves!  It’s crazy!

Be smarter than that… After you’ve spent some valuable time in reflection on the massive twists and turns in your own circumstances, you’ll need to take the next step- action.  Down times are excellent times for retooling, whether that’s systems or policies, equipment or people.  Focus on addressing short term or crisis situations first.  It may require changes in personnel, finances or other key areas.  Then study what long term changes you need to make or steps you need to take.   Those steps could be to prevent the same dip from happening again, or to prepare better for the next time it comes around.  Do you need to have a “Rainy Day Fund”?  Do you need to streamline expenses?  Enact new policies?  Invest in training of staff?

A Time to Celebrate

Finally, don’t minimize that this can be a great time for you to refresh, recalibrate and celebrate the ride!  Amusement parks continue to make money year after year because people need a break from the details of life.  Roller coasters are fun and scary at the same time, but both of those feelings have one major component in common.  They make us feel ALIVE!

Consider that this time could be the break or refreshing time that you or your staff have needed for a while.  Spend some time celebrating successes in the past, and talking about the future.  Play together and dream together.  As a leader, cast a vision for a dynamic and exciting future.

In Beyonce’s song “Countdown”, she sings, “There’s ups and downs in this love. Got a lot to learn in this love. Through the good and the bad, still got love.”  Yes, in this life there are gonna be ups and downs too… but it’s life, and even when it’s a roller coaster, it’s your choice to learn and love, or scream in panic into the “dip”.  Lead well through the “dip”, and enjoy the ride!