We need to look at preparing ourselves for the long haul of COVID-19. The shock has worn off. Lockdown really happened. The reality is that we are in for a marathon, not a sprint. Things will unlock and reopen SLOWLY. Frustration and irritation will kick in as we feel like we are not getting anywhere very quickly. It’s important that we develop hope and grit as we walk through this sticky and messy period that feels much like wading through mud and molasses.
I was so reminded of this during a Microsoft Live Events test call this week with a large banking client. We were testing their webinar functionality for an event I presenting the following day. The message ‘Hang tight while we try and connect you’ kept going around and around on my screen. When I eventually got into ‘the room’ it took a further two and a half hours to finally get the functionality that we needed. It was exhausting and frustrating, especially when I have used about seven other different video conferencing platforms that are just so much easier to navigate. My feeling, which you may well identify with was, “It’s enough already, can we please get back to normal!”
We are all beginners again
That, of course, is wishful thinking. We are not going back to normal. We are wading forward, slowly towards a new normal, and we have no idea what that looks like. It’s like being a beginner all over again and there is something totally scary and refreshing about that, isn’t there? We need to remind ourselves that so much about life and how we were lived before COVID-19 actually was not working for us. We were complaining of being too rushed, of burnout, of not having enough time for family life, of not being able to focus on our health, of trading our health for our wealth, and so much more.
As much as we were seeking change, we don’t like change being forced on us. We prefer to make a change by choice. Funnily enough, we are actually fairly resistant to change, even when it is for our own good. We like feeling comfortable and in control. Change makes us feel quite the opposite. We often resist change out of fear. I heard a fellow speaker, on a virtual meeting recently, questioning whether he really should take his business online or not because it “just doesn’t fit his brand.” Of course, everything is a personal choice but we need to look at where our resistance is coming from and whether or not it is justified.
When your confidence has taken a knock, put your brave panties on
If you were wanting to change the direction of your business or your life, right now may just be the time to do it. There is nothing like a crisis as a catalyst for change. If you don’t do it now, when will you ever? Yes, you have to gird your loins and put your brave panties on. Working with change takes courage. At a time when your confidence has taken a knock because so many external forces outside of your control are at play, this is a serious challenge. But, you can do it. I know, because I have done it. It takes grit, determination and hope to move forward at this time.
Here are some of my tips from personal experience that may help you:
- Find an anthem or two, something stirring to play for yourself in the morning while you are getting ready for your day. I find that Vangelis has many rousing anthems from various movies that do it for me like Chariots of Fire, Conquest of Paradise and more. Just get onto Youtube and you will find something that resonates for you.
- Don’t resist change because of fear
- Talk about your ideas critically with trusted confidantes. Speak to a number of them to get the input you need.
- Take baby steps to regain control and confidence.
- Celebrate each little success, each new skill learnt, each new contact made.
- I recently presented to two different online audiences who were mostly between 70 and 80 years of age. This was the first time they had ever been on a virtual webinar. This is the only way for them to currently gather and do what they normally do, which is to listen to a guest speaker once a month. I’m glad they trusted me with their first online experience.
- I watch educators taking up the challenge of teaching remotely over this time and I keep reminding them of how much they have actually learned in a very short space of time. They really have.
- Focus on what you have and what you can still do, not on what you have lost.
- I received an email recently from someone whose husband has been retrenched and she showed me photographs of the woodwork he is now doing. He didn’t skip a beat in turning his hand to something new, that he enjoyed doing, rather than sitting moping around doing nothing. Even if this isn’t where he is going to end up, he is, at least, on his way to somewhere instead of nowhere.
- Share your humanity with others – find some cheerleaders or a buddy who you can check in with about gains and losses you are both experiencing over this time. A mastermind of a number of people can also work really well.
- I have found great value in some of my speaker masterminds for sharing information, contacts and best practice, as we all take our businesses online.
- I also have an individual speaker friend who I connect with on a regular basis, often very late at night, and we share notes. Camaraderie and accountability spur us on.
The secrets of successful survivors of change
Successful people who can turn sour lemons into lemonade are those who:
- Have guts
- Have grit
- Have hope
- Are open to learning, unlearning and relearning
- Practice honest self-reflection
- Know themselves well
- Collaborate with others
- Are resilient and resourceful
- Can think out of the box
Growing grit and determination
We have all been knocked, and some knocked down, by COVID-19. Our self-confidence has been dented or shattered and we are feeling out of control. Learning to get up and dust ourselves off is about grit, determination and perseverance. Every time we commit to moving forward, even in small ways, we grow our resilience muscle. Learning something new takes practice and perseverance. Success is where preparedness and opportunity meet. It is not about luck. It is about choice. Even when all the chips are down we still retain our power to choose and how we direct our thoughts. That provides our energy with leadership and direction. No-one can do that for us.
As Colin Hall from Learn to Lead says, “There is only one person responsible for your charging your battery, and that’s you!” The sooner we wake up to this, the better. Our hope lies within us. In Angela Duckworth’s brilliant book called Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (Vermillion, 2016), she describes hope like this:
“One kind of hope is the expectation that tomorrow will be better than today. It’s the kind of hope that has us yearning for sunnier weather, or a smoother path ahead. It comes without the burden of responsibility. The onus is on the universe to make things better.”
“Grit depends on a different kind of hope. It rests on the expectation that our own efforts can improve our future. I have a feeling tomorrow will be better is different from I resolve to make tomorrow better. The hope that gritty people have, has nothing to do with luck and everything to do with getting up again.“
Doesn’t that just say it all? We grow grit from the inside out. To grow hope and grit while wading through what feels like mud and molasses, we must keep putting one foot in front of the other believing that our own efforts will make tomorrow better!
You can do this.