I've been zooming around the change curve with this inaugural cohort of IGNITE pandemic pivoters - and they've got me hopeful.
Accountant, lawyer, author, music promoter, yoga/fitness instructor, teen educator/counselor - together, over the last two months, we've harnessed our creative energy, plotting plans for personal and professional growth.
Along the way, the group's inspired me to embrace my own pivot: to see my change consulting and coaching as more than my profession, but my life’s work!
And the journey has just begun. As the Coronavirus crisis, sadly, continues, evolves, shifts - as #blacklivesmatter gains exciting power - we must shift and adapt. We can and must fortify ourselves for the long haul.
Beyond building our pivot plans, we're developing new, resilient ways of being.
Here are three lessons on surviving and thriving from the IGNITE front-lines...
1. Acknowledge (don’t downplay) the Loss.
We talk about the new normal. It’s almost mind-boggling how well we, as a society (with few notable exceptions), have accepted the COVID reality, adapting to masks and social distancing, zooming and home-schooling and home-body lockdowns.
Our adaptation is exceptional and essential. It does not mean there is no frustration, fear, even anger. We have to name the losses because to bury or deny the truth only gives the darker emotions greater power. And while we may have adapted to the current scenario, conditions keep changing and evolving – so we have to keep re-adjusting – and that is exhausting.
In an opening exercise with the participants, I show a gallery of images with which we are all quite familiar by now: dead empty Times Square in NYC, masked protesters marching on Washington confronting Federal camouflaged troops, masked statues in a quaint Italian piazzas (a little irony amidst the tragedy), grocery shelves wiped-out, unemployment, infection and death rates soaring, confidence in government plummeting.
So what’s the impact on you, your business, your livelihood and life? I ask.
For one pivot participant, an author and sexual healer, http://laurazam.com/, the pandemic posed problems for the May launch of her first book and put an abrupt halt to nationwide, face-to-face book tour. Tough.
For another participant, a music promoter with knack for exposing DC to eclectic and cross-cultural acts, the pandemic shutdown meant every gig on his books was cancelled – starting with spring, then into summer, fall and winter. He now admits it will not be until 2021 the venues will reopen; and his business may never return to normal.
2. Envision What’s Possible
The good news is: with every change there is loss AND gain.
In creating a vision for the future, I invite participants to imagine beyond their work or business to their life at large. What is possible in the space created by the loss? What matters, really matters, to you now?
This blue-sky step is important: it’s the basis and driving force for your plan. If you hem yourself in – say what you should want, not what you really want – or keep yourself small versus aspirational – you will most definitely go down the wrong path – to a place, perhaps, you’ve already been.
Interestingly, what I have found with my pivot clients is that, given the utter craziness of these times, they are more aware than ever of their dreams or, perhaps, more willing to acknowledge, verbalize, and go for them. If not now, when?
The Pleasure Plan author wants not just to sell books but to turn her book into a movement – and she’s using social media and online technology to touch an even broader audience than she would have been able to reach on a physical book tour – more easily and cost-effectively too!
A lawyer in the group building his practice has for years dreamed of helping people with end of life decisions; now, with COVID, that possibility seems more relevant and urgent than ever. He is beginning to break through his self-doubt so he can be available to meet the growing need for his human-centered trust and estate planning.
3. Don’t Go it Alone
“Nothing is this world worth doing can be done alone,” says Reinhold Niebuhr, ethicist and theologian famous for the Serenity Prayer. I couldn’t agree more.
The coaching groups I lead are only as good as the participants and the wealth knowledge they contribute. I tapped Rachel from https://www.mindfulmovementdc.com/ for some energizing exercises that got us out of our seats and into flow. Laura, the author, shared her tips on free-writing before I sent everyone off for a visioning. And, when we got to the all-important topic of money, not the easiest to discuss, the CPA shared her level-headed advice for creating a crisis cushion and leveraging stimulus resources.
The power of collaboration was evident in the faces of the pivot participants the first time they returned from a breakout exercise. All smiles in the Zoom Brady Bunch gallery, the participants had been seen and heard, their words and ideas mirrored back to them, making their visions real. The truth is: commitment is created in communication, not inside your head.
We have not chosen this change – the pandemic has chosen us. But we can choose how we respond – authentically, holistically, powerfully, and responsibly.
By taking charge of our own change, we ready ourselves to act on and in a world that has never seemed more in need of our gifts.
Are you ready to put your gifts into the world?
The Fall cohort of IGNITE pandemic pivoters and business planners is forming.
Funds are available to qualified DC based entrepreneurs.
Reach out for more info and to share your ideas.
And please be well and strong, friends.