I heard a lovely quote recently and it really resonated with me: "You can't control what happens to you in your life but you can control how you react to it."
It’s easy to panic and get worked up in a challenging scenario but I’ve learned that ultimately it achieves nothing. Being positive even in the face of difficulty has many benefits – it can bring people together, boost morale and help get stuff done.
The world is always changing and running a business like Virgin is never a question of sitting back and letting challenges get the better of you.
In August 1999, we were ready to open our first Virgin Active health club – until disaster struck. As I detail in Finding My Virginity, fire had swept through the gym, doing tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage. We had to postpone our opening for months and on top of this, we had a full team to pay and no money coming in.
It’s really easy to feel downhearted in a situation like this. Instead, we tried to find the positives. The staff got really involved and threw themselves into getting out in the community. By the time we opened the club, we had 5,500 members. We disrupted the market with no joining fee and no long-term contracts and our customers loved us for it.
I always have such a huge respect for my team when they support each other even when times get tough. Virgin is a family business, and that means looking out for each other and coming together.
Hurricane Irma has also caused huge destruction recently in the BVI. It has been truly heartbreaking for the many people who have lost their homes and livelihoods. But it has been incredibly heartwarming to see the community rally together and to hear the stories of resilience of the people in the BVI. I will be there the whole way, supporting the local community and helping rebuild through our foundations Virgin Unite and Unite BVI. It is always the stories of overcoming adversity that remain poignant in our minds and give us the hope to continue.
Unfortunately, bad things will happen and sometimes there is nothing we can do to stop them. But it does give me comfort in challenging times that I am trying to control my reaction and have a positive impact on those around me.