Be more rabbit

Chinese New Year on Sunday 22 January ushered in the year of the rabbit, deemed the luckiest of all 12 animals in the zodiac.

Be more rabbit!

In her new monthly column for Elite Business, multi award-winning entrepreneur, CEO, life and business breakthrough coach and motivational speaker, Sarah Pittendrigh tackles the pain points of CEOs and business founders with her ‘The I Can Method’ mindset reboot.

Chinese New Year on Sunday 22 January ushered in the year of the rabbit, deemed the luckiest of all 12 animals in the zodiac. In business we might think the more bullish Tiger or Dragon would have the edge. Who wants to be a rabbit, sat frozen in the headlights? But in Chinese culture, the rabbit symbolises mercy, elegance and beauty and its power lies in being calm and peaceful, in avoiding arguing and fighting.

My ‘rabbit in the headlights’ moment was in 2008 when I was a partner and board director of a corporate event and leisure business.  On top of the impact of the recession, my business partners and I had invested heavily in a client contract that unfortunately never came to full fruition. We were forced to close the business and were left bankrupt.

I would end up on income support and our home repossessed.  For a number of weeks I spent time locked away in the house licking my wounds, when one day I looked up to see a man in a suit standing in my garden. I opened the sitting room window and called out: “Can I help you? What are you doing?” He came over, very politely, and said: “I’m here from the bank. I need to value your house. I’ll be taking photographs and measurements because it’s about to go up for auction”. 

Terror consumed me, I felt like the rabbit in the headlights. Frozen by fear. I was a single mum. How could I protect my 9-year-old son from losing his home? 

It was a long afternoon. We started to chat as he took the photos and set about measuring the rooms in our home.  He told me that he’d also lost his job due to the financial climate and was doing valuations part-time to make ends meet. I made him a cup of tea and he shared with me that our home was worth less than my mortgage. It was in negative equity as a result of the impact the recession was having on house prices. That sounds like a terrible thing to hear, but it gave me a slither of hope: in negative equity my house would not be of benefit to the bank, it would cost them money to dispose of it. 

From a calm and civilised ‘rabbit’ conversation came the nugget of hope that led to my breakthrough which would ultimately see me create what is now a multi award-winning, franchised business and allow me to reclaim our home.

When we’re under pressure, we can be in danger of looking around and beating ourselves up about how much better everyone else seems to be doing. I encourage you to swap the stick for a carrot and if there’s a CEO or Founders whose success you admire and would like to emulate, reach out and ask if they could spare you some time and share their advice and success story. 

Stay in your lane and true to your purpose, but also take time out to nurture a growth mindset. For me, the year of the rabbit reminds me of the benefit of taking a step back and looking at the ever-changing landscape. It is important to be agile and keep your energy levels high. Energy creates motivation, motivation creates inspiration, inspiration leads to innovation and growth.

Sam, my lurcher puppy, forced me out of the house every day at my lowest ebb in 2008. Walking him gave me vital thinking space that helped to calm my whirring thoughts. Being out under a big sky, no matter how wild the weather, encourages big picture thinking and a positive mindset. In 2023 let’s all be more rabbit, and the only blue needs to be blue sky thinking.

Sarah Pittendrigh
Sarah Pittendrigh

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