How to Ride the Highs and Lows in Your Business

“Losers quit when they fail. Winners fail until they succeed.” – Robert Kiyosaki

How to Ride the Highs and Lows in Your Business

By Andrea Novakowski

Sometimes life seems like a roller coaster, with exhilarating highs followed by stomach-dropping lows. And then there are times when both the highs and lows happen at once.

I found myself in this place recently, simultaneously feeling very happy and profoundly sad. Just one week after the passing of my 95-year-old mother, Martha D. Schoening, I celebrated my daughter’s wedding. It was the sort of occasion for which the word bittersweet was invented: when you can’t help smiling through your tears.

In your business, the roller coaster might look something like this: you win a new contract that you’ve worked for months to obtain. That same week, your best employee leaves to start their own company. Do you celebrate, or scream in frustration?

When you land a great new piece of business or achieve some other long-held goal, life looks rosy. You’ve arrived. You’re unstoppable. You may feel, think, and start acting as if all is well and that it’s going to stay this way forever!

And then something comes at you from the other end of the spectrum. You lose that key employee, a long-term contract that you counted on, or, as in my case, you lose someone who matters to you on a very personal level. A black cloud settles over your head. Your life is in ruins and it feel like it’s going to stay that way forever.

In reality, neither of these assumptions is accurate. Finding a way to balance these highs and lows, – particularly when they both happen at once – can help you manage these extremes, stay focused and, perhaps most importantly, keep your stress in check.

As a business owner, it’s important to be able to take the good with the bad, to acknowledge and expect that both types of events will happen. In his book Peaks and Valleys: Making Good and Bad Times Work for You, Spencer Johnson explains how the peaks and valleys of life are connected. “The errors you make in good times create tomorrow’s bad times,” he says, “and the wise things you do in today’s bad times create tomorrow’s good times.”

For example, in good times, it’s tempting to get carried away with a feeling of triumph. This can cause you to slack off, whether on pursuing new business, watching your budget, or keeping tabs on your staff. The result: a shrinking pipeline of customers, a lapse into overspending, or a bunch of disengaged employees.

Conversely, in bad times, you have a chance to learn from your mistakes. You can examine how the situation arose and figure out how to minimize the chances it will happen again.

The next time you encounter one of those peaks and valleys, try these strategies to keep yourself on an even keel and not get swept away in one direction or the other.

Acknowledge what you’re feeling in the moment. Whether you’re jubilant or upset, expect that it will have an impact on you. Becoming aware and present with those feelings can guide your next step. Don’t cut yourself off from your feelings, or they may come back in surprising ways that can really throw you off track.

Anticipate that your emotions will shift with very little prompting. Peaks and lows bring your feelings to the surface, where they can emerge without much effort. You may be pulled one way or the other from minute to minute, meeting to meeting. Can you observe these feelings without getting carried away by them?

Be gentle with yourself. Lower your expectations. Sure, you can power through the ups and downs at your usual breakneck pace, but it may be better to step back and give yourself time to reflect. What can you learn from what you are experiencing?

In business and in life, we all have occasions to celebrate as well as losses to grieve. If you set the expectation that both ups and downs will come at you and also, eventually, recede in the rearview mirror, you won’t get too overwhelmed by either situation. Stay present — and you will be more resilient in the long run.


Think back to the last time you experienced an extreme emotion – either positive or negative – and latched on to it as though it was the new permanent state of things. How does that event look to you now that you have distance from it? What can you learn from that experience to prepare you for the next time it happens?

Scroll to Top