I've received several notes from clients and colleagues asking me what I think and feel about all that's going on. After all, my two biggest books talk about CONTAGIOUS YOU and CONTAGIOUS CULTURE, and this whole body of work is about SHOWING UP for ourselves and each other. A most recent note really pulled at my heart, I gave it my best response in this moment and during this time. My team and I thought it might be useful to others. It's a long post, so digest as you wish. And as always, take, toss, or tweak as it serves. Love to you always. Stay safe.
Dear Client & Friend,
So great to hear from you. So sorry it's for this moment in time.
Ahhh... my heart is with all of you. You've all been on my mind.
My words of wisdom... hmmm...
Are you on my email list? I've been writing about this some and also offering content, a book club (which is organically turning into COVID-19 Quarantine coping virtual teaming/IEP class), and content on social media to support people. You're welcome to any and all of it as you wish. Just let me know if you are on that list. That's a good place to start.
More thoughts for you and your beautiful crew...
I'm gathering my thoughts as we navigate this -- it's been interesting to be in it and to watch the noise and the chaos, as well as to experience it. Contagious has another meaning now that the world is reeling from. And I believe that our contagiousness -- energetically, emotionally, attitudinally, and behaviorally -- is more important than ever.
I'm re-reading Contagious You now and running the book club through it. I wanted to read it while in THIS moment -- and I'm finding it more applicable now (even though people have been funny about buying a book that calls them CONTAGIOUS ;-)) to help us move through this time. Myself included.
Here are some thoughts in no gorgeous order.
They are my beliefs and practices that I am holding to support movement through this time and to stay healthy and helpful:
- We WILL get through this. And we WILL be better for it. We were moving at a pace that was unsustainable, disconnected, and leading people into burnout, busy, isolation, suicide, disconnected families, NO TIME, bad health, and so much more... This is a PAUSE. It's a reboot. It's just a VERY painful reboot.
- We have an opportunity to become a more healthy, useful, happy culture. We have an opportunity to lead better and more lovingly. If we use this opportunity well and intentionally, business and humanity will eventually be better for it.
- Our contagiousness -- energetically, emotionally, attitudinally, and behaviorally - is more important than ever. We must keep this top of mind. Because in fear and panic and grief this is so easy to lose. When we lose our center, and our own power of presence, we are more likely to get sucked into the dark. So we have to stay conscious.
- What we do with this time -- how present we stay, how well we take care of ourselves, how kind we are to ourselves and each other, and how we make this "moment" in time count - will determine the culture we are on the other side of this. We have a choice. We can only control the choices we make, the more we choose well, the more others will "catch it" and follow suit because, as we are seeing, we are highly contagious. In all the ways, not just physical. Our energy/spirit/contribution/kindness/productive thinking/grace/behaviors/etc... these can all be contagious for good.
- I believe this is a global "timeout" that we've been all put on together to think about how we've shown up, what we've done with the planet, how we've treated each other, how we've valued health, how busy, unconscious, and disconnected we've allowed ourselves to become, who we want to become, what we truly value now, and what we will make with the next 100 years of our existence. (Deep, I know. And if you think of the Great Influenza of 1918 or other pandemics - they had similar things to consider. And some of the greatest things we've done as the human species have come out of tragedy and crisis.) This moment in time is an invitation to become better and possibly save our planet and species and hearts if we use this invitation well.
- But/AND... we have to do the work now to get there. This work does not mean what "work" may have meant in the past. It's not about hustle and go go go and do do do... right now is about staying present, being well, being thoughtful, intending who we want to become through this, be be being, and doing the things we can to help things go well.
- And... with all this hopefulness and reflection and optimism, this time also sucks. It hurts. It's sad. It's scary. It's uncertain. We are separated from family and loved ones. People are stuck with family and loved ones (and that maybe hard in other ways). People are dying. People are hungry. Businesses are crashing. The economy is a mess. Healthcare is overloaded. Uncertainty is abundant. And these are just some of the things... Bottom line... this is a hard unprecedented moment in time. And it is important to honor the emotion and truth of that as well. It's important not to dismiss the tenderness of the emotions or run from them by making ourselves busy busy busy (perhaps in new ways now) or tuning out to ourselves. It is also important not to get stuck in it and lose ourselves in hopelessness... There is a dance here. A dance of grief and optimism. Sadness and joy. Despair and hopefulness. Paralysis and action. Stuckness and creativity. Contraction and expansion. And I could go on... Everyone's dance will be unique to them. I believe even knowing a "dance" is in process, is liberating. It helps.
Ways to move through this consciously:
- Stay present. Right here, right now. Honor each emotion as they come. And stay present to NOW. Don't check out. Don't future jump. Don't "what if" yourself to smidgeons... stay here, right now. Present.
- Take excellent care of yourself right now.
- Be intentional about how you use this time. Stay awake. Anything is fine, just stay conscious and intentional with what you do and who you be.
- Let yourself have this: Somedays you'll want to stay in bed, drink a fantastic Pinot at 8 a.m., and eat a box of chocolate-covered Cheetos. Somedays you'll want to crush it, do great work, plan your life, workout, save the world, etc... Somedays you'll cry and future jump to worst-case scenarios, bathing in the news. And somedays you'll feel inspired by humans, excited about the future, grateful for the time to be and reflect, and in awe of the human spirit. Somedays you'll be happy. Somedays angry. All of these ranges are important. They count. Stay conscious and intentional with them. Remember the dance...
- That all said, honor your own experience. Be careful not to get sucked into other's experiences and projections of what they think YOU should be going through or feeling or doing. Stay present to you. (Read Chapter 11 of Contagious You on "OPPPE" for more on this. PS. OPPPE = Other People's Problem, Projections, and Expectations.)
- Be nice to yourself. PERIOD. And while you're at it, to everyone else too. Especially those people you're sheltering in home with and possibly even a little... bugged by. ;-)
- If you want to hustle and crush it --
great. Do it. Rock it. And... Make sure it's not a distractor from your feelings. AKA, don't create a new level of busy-ness to avoid feeling the feels or telling yourself your truth or being thoughtful about what you're creating, or being present to the NOW.
- Be honest about your feelings and emotions -- allow ALL of them. ALL OF THEM.
- Be gentle with yourself. This IS the inner work. This time is to do the inner work, the inner self-care of self-kindness and gentleness and love and reflection. That's the work.
- Again, let yourself have this experience -- fully. Your experience is shared with the world AND it is also very personal. Have YOUR experience. (You have to stay present to do this.)
- Take really good care of yourself physically right now (and always): hydration, food as fuel, rest, meditation, sleep, downtime, journaling, drawing, anything that fills you up. Watch your intake of alcohol, cannabis, TV, news, etc -- or anything that alters your state or has you "check out." (Enjoy the wine and whatever you adore, just stay present and don't use it to disappear or avoid.) ;-)))
- Don't do this alone. DO NOT. We are supposed to be together. We are human. So, even if you are sheltering in home alone -- make it a point to BE with others. Zoom, FaceTime, etc etc are great for this. I'm seeing more and more daily calls, virtual dinners, dance parties, wine tastings, team check ins just for energy and emotion checks, and more happening right now. We are learning to connect in new ways that are essential. STAY CONNECTED.
- LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE. A LOT. YOU, YOURSELF, and YOU -- AND EVERYONE.
- Find gratitude right now. For anything and everything. This is essential.
- Be generous right now. Give to others; time, resources, money, your heart, 5 minutes to connect, grace, help, patience, a kind word, an acknowledgment, WHATEVER you have in your heart and abilities to do -- GIVE.
- Stay awake. Be quiet. Learn what this moment has to teach YOU. You will learn a ton about yourself in quiet. Whatever angers you, inspires you, makes you cry -- there is wisdom in that about you, what's most important, and who you're becoming.
- Use this time to become more of YOU. Take care of yourself throughout, stay safe, stay honest, AND use this moment to become the next version of you. You are remarkable. (We're about to launch another #ProjectImpeccable program to help people use this time to get more present and build their relationship and internal congruency with themselves. If you or your crew want to play, register at link, or just LMK and we'll set your group up.)
From a business standpoint:
- I know barely anyone who is not being impacted by this from a business and economical standpoint -- especially hospitality, food, and service (not to mention health care and first responders, etc. on the other side who are busier than ever for devastating reasons). The first step is to acknowledge the pain and terror of this and what's happening. Let yourself have the fear and the "what if's" trip that we all seem to be taking. This "trip" can be useful if you use it intentionally, thoughtfully and for good to figure out contingency plans (versus spiraling into panic and doom and getting stuck there).
- Practice ALL of the things I speak to above (at least the ones that feel congruent and resonate for YOU). When we're more centered, we have access to greater wisdom and intution...
- How can your services be offered in new ways? Ways you'd not imagine possible or silly before this? (Note to reader: For this client I included a list of possible new ways to roll out their services and products. I've removed the list here for confidentiality and to honor IP. If you want my thinking with you on this for your organization, reach out.)
- Serve. Connect with being in service of. What is the littlest thing you can do to bring joy and ease to your clients/customers?
- Be generous. Do whatever you can. Everyone is feeling this, how can you be generous, serve, and also cover your financial needs so you stay okay right now?
- Start online training and offerings you may not have thoughts to do before (ie. could you do an online class for people who want to learn more about your products services? Or maybe even create a special certification that your customers could get for fun in using them more effectively?)
- Leverage with other organizations who are doing interesting things where perhaps you bundle or collaborate offerings/services...
- Stuff like that...
- Take care of your people, acknowledge the feelings, AND lead. Give them a vision for the future, be honest about your own experience of this, and tell the truth of what decisions need to be made (as appropriate). Love each other.
- Of course, take advantage of the programs out there for Payroll Protection, EIDL, etc. to help get through this financially for a bit.
- Be intentional with your language and communication and presence - these things matter extra right now and have huge impact.
- To help with this, work you IEP -- your Intentional Energetic Presence® (in how you show up with people, virtually too right now), as well as be clear about your INTENTIONS (what you want to create and communicate), clean with your ENERGY(take care of self and watch the vibe you're projecting), and stay PRESENT (with them, with you, with the current situation, etc. and in how you SHOW UP). Of course, I suggest using the IEP Sheet and at a minimum the 5-steps to intentional impact framework daily. (I am and it is helping me a ton.)
- Stay connected. With everyone home - how can you keep them connected? Zoom or video conferencing may not be possible for everyone - but are there group calls, small team sessions, any kind of drumbeat to give people support? Some people are doing a daily all hands check-in for 10 minutes, some a weekly meeting. See what feels right for your teams and keep people connected.
- Training and development? Is there training you want to do for people now to help them make themselves better during this? Ie. job training, service or product training, customer service, leadership, etc. Is it time to do that executive leadership development course or team session you've all been saying you want to do, however hadn't had time for? Do you want your executives and leaders to work on their own development during this time, especially in how they'll lead virtually more now? Virtual presence will be even more important now, it's a good time to lean into it before the world opens up again and busy-ness tries to take over. (Note: We have some online training programs you all can do if you wish, as well as another one I am creating during this time that will be available in a few weeks. In addition, if you want to do the IEP Executive Leadership session with me virtually as opposed to onsite -- happy to work that out too. All to say, whatever the topic or area you wish to lean into, use this time to help people grow and become bigger in their being-ness and skills. IT will pay off. AND, they'll likely feel challenged, supported, and seen - which is essential for keeping your culture positively contagious.)
- Contagious YOU. Remember that YOU are CONTAGIOUS. You set the tone. Which makes all the things in the first lists even more important. As a leader - have your experience, get scared, meltdown, freak out - AND do it with the right people so you can process, learn, clear, and then give helpful direction to the rest of the company. AKA, if you need a minute - -PAUSE.
To this last point, a personal share... I personally needed to get really quiet for a bit to work through this with family and some of the circumstances we were in as well as to digest the impact on my own business and clients. Initially, I came out of the gates of this "hot" and "in service of" -- doing anything I could to help anyone who needed it -- videos for healthcare, book club, notes to clients, social media tips, etc. I DID a lot trying to help and get "in front of it" as soon as I saw things unfolding. Some of this was proactive, some of it reactive...
And then I realized I was diluting resources and energy while pushing and "skimming" my own emotions -- not a sustainable or optimal combo. I realized I "needed a minute" to have my own experience, process what was up for me, and get "right" with myself before I could "lead" and contribute most effectively. From a business standpoint, I needed to think about how to be most strategic, effective, AND helpful without contributing to all the noise that's out there right now... and in order to leverage energy, resources, and impact to be most helpful (and financially stable right now as well). This took a pause....
That pause (and the continuous pauses I'm taking as I need them) has made me better able to think, feel, and communicate with family, team, clients, and all the various situations at play -- and to make the best decisions possible in each moment. Case in point, had I tried to lead full on and do all of that, without taking care of my own emotions and physical needs, I would have been more reactive and diluted, less-resourced, and less helpful -- this wouldn't have been good for anyone. Of course, this is all still unfolding -- everyday brings new things -- but everything I mention in this note is something my team and I have been working on doing for ourselves and sharing with others who want it.
You are not alone. And neither is your organization.
I offer all of this because if any of it is familiar, you are not alone in leadership challenges and dynamics (even with people who teach this for a living ;-); I'm seeing a lot of people try to push through and either give up or "check out" getting lost in alcohol, carbs, the news, and Netflix OR... getting ultra-productive and commanding because it gives them a sense of control and distraction. Neither extremes work -- so if we can pause and get present and consider what we need - and tend to it at our best, we're better to lead for and serve others. (Note: I know for so many this "pause" is not as possible right now; healthcare workers, first responders, and others on the front lines -- there is not a lot of time or grace or space to pause and do what I'm saying, but for those of us that can, it's essential. It's part of our leadership responsibility right now to come out of this better -- and ultimately will help us be more helpful to those who can't by doing so. (Staying home and keeping the hospitals clearer is just ONE way we can help things go right. The more we show up here for ourselves and each other, the sooner we'll get through this.)
Hmmmm... I think that's it for now. If you are wanting videos and other -- find me on Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, my blog, and if you want in on the book club or #ProjectImpeccable, let us know and I'll have Ashley get you in. It's been good.
I can't wait to see you all again someday hopefully soon.
So grateful for you and what you are all up to. Stay safe and let me know how else I can help.
Big love to all at xx,