Our world is changing rapidly and we are all in this together. I have decided each day to find the problem to be solved and wrap it in an adventure. Writing, connecting with my students and those I mentor, and walking in my local parks and other natural settings is keeping me sane and productive right now. Here are my thoughts and ideas for making the best of what we are going through and helping others in the process.
The Value of Being Open to Change in Our Rapidly Changing World
I used to say that I didn’t adapt well to change. My first name, Connie, loosely translates from Latin to “constant, never changing” and I allowed this to become my reality until I came online in 2006. I had to immediately give up that belief, as the only way I could achieve success, first as an entrepreneur and then as an author was to embrace and adapt to change and flow with it on a daily basis. It was easier than I thought it would be and the proof is in the pudding with my results. Our planet is going through a rapid shift at the axis and core level and we can best navigate what is happening by welcoming the changes and making our own personal adjustments.
It’s easy to lose hope during a crisis. Your mind goes from “what is” to “what if” in a nanosecond. Remember that “what if” is not based on truth and right now may be closer to science fiction. As an author and entrepreneur I think of myself as a problem solver, and solving problems around life and business keeps me happy and uplifted each day.
I believe my life experiences are helping me through our current crisis. I’ll share two examples with you…
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During 1992 I took a leave of absence from my teaching position to spend a year in Miami. I had lived there as a teenager and wanted to spend some time with the many people I cared about. I rented a four bedroom home in a quiet section of South Miami and took a job with the Department of Transportation as a right-of-way appraiser. This adventure started out so wonderfully, until Hurricane Andrew bore down upon us that August and destroyed my neighborhood.
Every day my goal was to find a neighbor who would allow me to help them clean up in return for a meal. I encountered people daily who played the “what if” game and were convinced it would be many months before things got back to any level of normal. Instead, I engaged in “what is” thinking and knew that people somewhere were making a plan to get help to us.
On the tenth day after the storm flattened south Florida the Red Cross and the National Guard made their way to my street and helped me to salvage as many of my material possessions as possible. Then they arranged for my little dog and I to get to a friend’s house an hour north where everything was already back to normal. My renter’s insurance paid me the policy limits and a few weeks later I returned to southern California. Three months later, while still going through treatment I used the insurance money as a down payment for a new home.
Instead of losing hope I saw this as a problem to be solved, wrapped in an adventure. Whereas “what if” thinking would lead to thoughts of not having running water or enough to eat for months or longer, entertaining “what is” thoughts helped me to understand this was just a temporary situation.
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I was first diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 37 years old. This caught me by surprise, as no one in my family had ever had any type of cancer. My initial thoughts were around “what if I have to go through chemotherapy and I am so sick I won’t be able to work and help my mother with her expenses” and “what if I die a slow, painful death from this?” to the point that I felt hopeless and helpless every day. It was the doctors who taught me a simple visualization exercise where I closed my eyes and imagined getting through this illness and back to fully restored health. This was my first experience with taking a problem and moving towards being able to wrap it in an adventure.
Becoming a problem solver who asked for help in figuring out the best plan of action each day during those months of multiple surgeries and cancer treatments made the difference. The truth and the science behind the “what is” encouraged me to take each day as it came and to remain hopeful that this experience would someday be one I could share with others who were facing a seemingly hopeless situation. Perhaps today is that day.
I hope these two stories will make a difference for you as we all navigate our current situation. It is said that what unites us is far greater than what divides us and today we are all united as we deal with “what is” to fight this invisible enemy of COVID-19 germs. Yes, we can do it. If you can possibly think of this as a problem to be solved, one that you can wrap in an adventure the days will pass more easily and you will be able to regain focus and clarity for what is truly important in your life and business.
“In times of uncertainty, your habits ground you.” ~ James Clear
Speaking Your Fears Diminishes Their Power
Two of my friends and fellow Rotarians came to my house for lunch yesterday. Rotary Club meetings have been temporarily suspended all over the world and this was a way for us to connect in person. They took off their shoes at the door (we don’t wear shoes inside my house), vigorously washed their hands in the guest bathroom, and joined me in the family room to talk for awhile. I could tell by their physical demeanor and nervous laughter they were filled with fear. How could I help them voice their fear so they could wrap it in an adventure?
We sat on three different pieces of furniture to stay the requisite six to ten feet (1.8 to 3 meters) apart. I leaned in and asked them directly “What is your fear?”
One man is the general manager of a national grocery store chain and his stores are in three counties. He looked at each of us, took a deep breath, and said,
“I’m afraid the trucks will stop coming and the shelves will be completely bare. I’m afraid my employees will stop showing up to work. And I’m afraid I will be infected and take it home to my wife and son.”
Then he smiled broadly, chuckled, and added. “That’s three fears. You only asked for one.”
We then discussed what he had said. It was possible, but highly improbable the trucks would cease to appear at every store he is in charge of managing. Yes, some of the workers will quit or he will have to lay some of them off. And catching the virus is possible, so that’s why he and his employees are wearing masks and gloves and staying six feet away from everyone else. The stores are limiting how many people may enter at one time and everyone is cooperating. Then he said, with an audible sigh of relief,
“Now that I’ve said all of this out loud, it feels more like a concern than a fear.”
Exactly what I had hoped for. My other Rotarian friend is a veterinarian and owns the largest office in the county. We also turned his fears into concerns by having him voice them aloud.
As for me, my biggest concern right now is that the people I serve will cease believing in themselves, allowing an outside situation to somehow make them feel diminished in power and unable to move forward each day because they are paralyzed with fears and beliefs around “what if” instead of focusing on the “what is” of each day. If that describes you at all, know that business is continuing online and that once people find bathroom tissue and bread their next goal is to find the information, products, and training that will make their businesses grow. We’re all in this together and everything will work itself out over time.
Please take a few minutes right now, and throughout every day to voice your fears and concerns. Ask your family members to do the same. One of my friends had her twelve year old daughter do this exercise and she voiced her fear that “you and Dad will die and I won’t have anywhere to live.” The discussion that came from that was powerful and healing in a loving way. Every problem can be turned into a concern once you make the effort to wrap it in an adventure.
Let’s Transform the Seconds, Minutes, and Hours Right in Front of Us…
Take a deep breath, find a quiet spot inside or outdoors to think, and know that you have the power to control your health and financial destiny without leaving the comfort and safety of your home. Many of us have been doing this (working exclusively at home) for going on two decades now and you deserve this flexibility and peace of mind, today and always.
Yes, we’re headed for tough times right now. But it’s important to remember that tough times don’t last; tough people do. What we are going through now is similar to what happened during the year after September 11th. That’s when many people, including public speakers decided to bring their entire businesses online. I’ve done that and so can you. Many times I decline an invitation to speak because it’s not a venue I’m looking forward to, and I can always make more money by staying at home.
Know that your financial future can remain bright no matter what’s outside your front door. Find a problem to solve and wrap it in an adventure. Become a “thinking person” and keep moving forward.