The last time things got this bumpy and concerning for the leaders of professions and industries was 2008. What I remember from that was the national economy took a dive in many industries and unemployment went higher than anyone liked to see. My nationally famous house, featured as a cover story in Popular Science, took more than a year to sell. That’s how depressed the banks and real estate got. Meanwhile, associations kept on having meetings, pumping out continuing education courses and creating certifications. Very few of my colleagues lost their jobs or lives because of it.
Thousands of professionals who communicate with each other, and through me, in life forms called communities, tribes, and permission-based blogs, newsletters, web conferences, plus my communications practice seemed to land on their feet. Not much changed.
2020 is different. This is a global incident that stops the meetings, stops all business as usual, and sends shock waves of unemployment and zero cash flow through every profession and industry. Associations, credentials creators, training providers and higher education—they are all feeling this. My tribe, the community I love and have served for 40 years is scrambling for a new playbook.
There is no plan out of this but there is every reason to chart new courses, imagine new destinations and rethink our humanity. And that’s why I’ve created this series of five weeks to show what works when you put your brain and strengths to work, instead of giving into panic and fear all day long. The feelings of concern are real and so are the people hoping you will rediscover your business model and rechart several possible trails between Right Now and Next Practices.
For those who just discovered all the fun we are having over here in the recharting journey, it would be smart to start at the beginning and fast forward through the first three installments. For those ready to dig into Step Four, this will go really fast. Usually, this part takes one day or less, even if you are collaborating with that core team you invited at Step Three.
The purpose of recharting for these five weeks is to get you through the pandemic and in a better situation a year or two from now. Plans are out. Better is thinking, adapting, staying flexible and doing the work daily in a consistent way, all with a chart in hand that tells you where you are going and stops along the way–that’s it.
Instead of telling you this works, I’m guiding you through the journey, these five weeks. I’m walking this out with you and at any time in these five weeks, you know how to find me. I’m right here in front of you and my email address is on every email. I take your success and future seriously and personally.
In this stage we have scoring systems, criteria and ways to see what will land in each of the new charts. Remember, you have three. There’s Chart A (the one you probably would end up with without having this Ultimate Guide), Chart B (the one your genius and boldness wanted all along) and Chart OMG (the one you wish you had before the pandemic or any other crisis).
Here’s where it gets more fun and the new paths on your new chart to the future begin to emerge. You’ll need some colored markers or highlighters for this part. You’ll need blue, orange and purple. Oh, you want to grab the green one, don’t you? The good news is you get to use the green one next week, for the winning path, which we’ll figure out next week in the final (fifth) installment in this series.
Pull up that master chart you created at the end of last week. In one place you see the issues, plus the questions and better questions that get you past all of the process talk and into results words. In the margins on the right and left, you have put clues to yourself as to how valuable, how completely possible each of those issues and approaches are.
Some of you will have 10 or more issues, with questions and margin markings. Some of you are more imaginative and less concerned about anyone’s approval at this stage; so, you have 100 or more issues. Extra points for the one with 100 because that means you listened to your guide and have more to work with now.
Mark each issue/question set with blue, orange or purple. At this stage honesty and integrity matters. Here’s your marking criteria:
Blue is familiar. You may have done something like this before. Maybe it’s part of status quo. It’s safe and when the world seems to be falling apart, you’ll tend to work on this. Blue things go into your new Chart A.
Orange is creative and more imaginative. It could be bolder than what you’ve been doing. It could be slightly familiar but not yet entrenched or something you’ve ever experienced. Possibly, read about it but never did it. Orange things go into your new Chart B.
Purple is for the unimagined and unprecedented issues, questions, which you brought out of your brain and deeply hidden genius during this recharting exercise. These items range from “Not on your life!” to “Maybe someone else might actually think this or make this happen.” Purple feelings range between “The board would fire me for this” to “What if this works and someone else is already working on this?” Purple things go into your Chart OMG.
Next is the final step in our five weeks of recharting your business path. We’ll pull just one diamond—one clear and sparkling gem of a final destination, from one of your charts. That’s up to you whether Chart A, B or OMG is speaking to your heart and mind. Then we will go through some finishing steps that put details and traction to the trail that seems entirely possible and desired for you, personally, and the business model you do best. Yes, we’ll get out the green marker next time to mark the “GO” trail on your chart into new normal.
How do you know if Chart A, B or OMG is the one to work on? Here’s a true story: When working with the professional fitness associations they say the question they get most is, What is the best exercise for me? Answer? It’s the one you will actually do. When working with the nutrition professionals associations they say the question they get is, What is the best diet for me? Answer: It is the one you will learn and follow, until it stops being a diet and becomes your eating plan.
So, which is the best chart for you? It’s the one you will put some detail to in the Fifth installment next week and actually do, because it is so right, so compelling, so much better than anything you had before now.
These five, precious weeks with you–it is not planning exercise. It is a recharting of where you are running, right now. We are laying the bricks down to create the road as you run on it. We are changing the oil in the plane as it flies. You haven’t done this before, but I have. This is what it’s like to be me and it is the scariest place you ever experienced, until you do it once, twice, then 600 times. Then you respect three things: Time, imagination, consistent effort every day, stripping away everything else that is not as high as life itself and your priorities.
If you are interested in other points of view as you rechart, I suggest the following reading as you decide which colors to mark each of your items.
Liberationist. How to Prepare your Organization for the New Normal This playbook is not the answer to what you need to do. It addresses seven areas that need revisiting.
The New Yorker. The Coronavirus Rewriting Our Imaginations
Medium, The Startup. Long-term thinking is most powerful when everything is falling apart
What matters in recharting is whether or not you thought though something so clear, so naturally you that can get to your destination, through all details, events, opportunities and barriers of each day.