Daylight savings time comes just as we are about to look back and notice it’s been more than two months since great intentions and resolutions.
Writing this article started on Sunday, right after changing many clocks and batteries we rarely think about—smoke alarms, auto key fobs, and other “wireless” necessities. By the time we got to finishing this in order to post it on Tuesday, we were all in a state of national emergency. We wanted to talk only about changing clocks and resetting 2020 goals. Something bigger was happening. Our readers (you) attention may have shifted on goals for 2020 so massively that we need to pivot and talk about obstacles.
Obstacles are everywhere, all of the time. Some are real and serious. Most obstacles we create in our minds and they appear as many small compromises or excuses for not doing the work or not staying on track with life plans and business projects. Other obstacles are bigger, like fear and uncertainty. To survive and thrive, every obstacle calls for creativity and preparation.
Create Plans and Test Them In Safe Places
For every priority and relationship important to you, do you have one or two alternate plans? Do you always take the time at the beginning of each day or any week or a single goal to think through, then write out your alternative plans, such as Plan A, B, and C?
Now may be the best time to go deeper and do alternative plans. Especially if you find yourself needing to stay home, work remotely or self quarantine, you have time to think about backup plans and who can help you—remotely or at a distance, to keep moving. Whether you need a pivot path or a new path, have alternative paths to keep moving and not lose momentum.
The Week That Sent Us All Scurrying
For most, Sunday is a day of rest, renewal and reflection. It’s the best day of the week to look at all of the goals and intentions you set for yourself, then make decisions. Just this Sunday our options were 1) celebrate milestones for 2020 resolutions (less than 5% make it this far), 2) rededicate 2020 goals and rework your habits calendar, or 3) give up.
March 8-14, 2020 was a week beyond all human experience.
First we reset clocks. Then, a second, bigger step. Many smart people saw the opportunity to review those plans we started after Christmas holidays for the “90 Days To A Better You.” Then came a third, unprecedented and overwhelming step to completely change the rest of 2020 and figure out everything for what life we have left. Suddenly, all of us were feeling our way in the dark.
By Wednesday, the global spread of COVID-19 reached a critical pace, spurring travel restrictions, quarantine measures including individuals and entire cities, plus cancellations of every kind of event, sport or congregating. Individuals took responsibility, massively and immediately, to support public efforts to slow the spread of the virus.
By Thursday, the financial markets dropped so fast many were all horrified to see history of nearly 100 years ago (Roaring 20’s), including a Great Depression, appearing on their smartphone screens. For everyone over 60, the concern about investment wipe out and no money for retirement seemed to pale next to the statistics on where COVID-19 hits hardest. Staying alive to even see retirement increased anxieties.
By Saturday when many followed their habit of weekend errands and shopping, we found the shelves empty of nearly everything on our list. That’s when it hit really hard that alternative plans and preparations matter for anything we want to keep going, such as life and work and learning.
Working Remotely And Keep Creating Solutions
Two patterns became evident to me this week as I continued my work and conversations, remotely, with leaders of different professions.
First, I saw that I had a superpower I could use to help others. I’ve worked remotely for 30 years and it’s a great thing to do if you can. I have mastered many systems, mindsets, skills and technologies that make productivity higher than the days when I traveled so much each week to work with so many, in person.
We all want to get through this and help each other. That’s why I’m focusing writing and communication directly by phone and web conferencing in the weeks ahead to let everyone in my network of professional leaders, association executives and credentials creators know I’ll share all secrets of Working Remote, at no charge. They can tap my decades of secrets and lessons learned to boost their own productivity. Plus they can help their employees, volunteer workers and crews do the same.
The second pattern noticed is the massive amount of email all week coming from many of my colleagues that depend on professional meetings and continuing education courses to serve the profession they represent nationally. Email after email this week announced cancellation of annual meetings, conventions and every kind of networking, professional development event in chapters across the nation. They are scrambling to figure out revenue and customer service for the rest of 2020. Few, if any, have Plan B or Plan C for the whole year. They just have their annual plan and budget. Their conventions and courses provide the millions of dollars they depend on.
This is another reason why I am stepping up my contributions and communications with these colleagues. Now that they have plenty of new scenarios and a lot of remote, quiet time to pivot, this is a great time to connect virtually and share a lifetime of learning about creating Plans B and C.
Most of the 300 boards of directors we’ve worked with do not want to talk about the unimaginable and worst case. Things are different now. Alternative plans and more options are in demand. More than 100 clients have counted on me for plans, storytelling skills and better endings. That’s why I’ll be generous with my attention and expertise to all who ask for help. The good news is we don’t need to do alternative plans every year. We just need to do it once, then put Plans B and C in a wall safe and hope we don’t need them.
Does this sound familiar? When your organization did a strategic plan or program plan, did you envision an optimistic future and then build resources around it to make it happen? At the same time, did you also talk about the nightmare—the total opposite of all those positive goals, then build resources around it to assure survival of the organization and keep customers or members “whole”?
What Does Not Change and Endures
In the chaos of the week, here are three things that you can count on. No matter what your plans or life may be, it may help to stay focused on what never changes:
Who you are never changes. Your stories may change. Your circumstances may change. Why you get up every day is called purpose. Science shows us purpose is even more important than food, water and shelter, ultimately. Make sure you know your purpose. It’s worth working on if you are not clear about purpose. It’s there. The difference you can make in the world is the best part of who you are. We are social animals so any social distancing makes us fearful and “not ourselves.” That’s why creativity and thinking of others more than yourself always feeds your every need.
If you are going to be home more in the coming weeks, what are you most looking forward to? What do you see as leadership opportunities, where you can make others feel safe? Can you think of anything I might do for you, based on your organizational needs to help speed up the learning curve for remote working?
Please reply and share that with me.
Here’s a big, virtual hug for you. I’m sending you lots of love and thank you for being one of the people in my network of brilliant professionals. It means the world to me that we are connected.