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In this episode of Sharpen Your Axe, Mike Hardwick, Churchill Mortgage founder and president, and Matt Clarke, COO/CFO of Churchill, discuss how to deal with failure and difficult times in life. One of Mike’s favorite life mottos is “attitude is everything.”

Mike and Matt reference American author, speaker, and pastor, John Maxwell’s version, “attitude with action is everything” and then take it a step further by noting that it’s really “attitude with the right action is everything.” As part of this, they go on to discuss the importance of these three things:

  1. Controlling your attitude
  2. Staying calm
  3. Keeping clarity of your thoughts during difficult times

A life lesson from Mike:

“One of my mentors, Dick Freeman taught me that there will be times in business negotiations, employee management, or in life (in general) that you have to take a stance and deal with angry individuals. It’s important to fight the normal tendency to react quickly and instead slow down.”

Dick recommended to lower the volume of your voice and slow down the pace. He pointed out the faster you talk, the less time you have to really think about what you’re saying. Take control of yourself and your emotions. By gaining that control you will likely handle the situation better. Staying calm in the midst of a storm doesn’t mean you aren’t worried or bothered. Instead, it means you are staying in control of your emotions in spite of those emotions.”

A life lesson from Matt:

“I have been encouraged to not only stay in control, but also try to listen to myself and observe how I’m communicating. I’ve found that it’s difficult to do, but it’s a good way to hold myself accountable for how I’m handling a situation.”

Both Mike and Matt continue on and discuss how to cope with difficult times in business–because it’s bound to happen. Here is Mike’s outlook and mindset he tries to maintain during difficult seasons:

  • Remind yourself, “This too shall pass”
  • Have a long-term view, instead of a myopic view focused only on the current day 

Mike goes on to share a personal experience when he had a severe financial reversal that almost caused him to go bankrupt. This led him to experience depression for the first time in his life. “I credit the support and encouragement of my family and friends. They helped me get through that difficult period of my life.”

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