Today, with the Coronavirus affecting everyone, worldwide, we are a vast community experiencing a new normal. We’ve lost some innocence. Can this really be happening? Like a child who has never lived through wartime, they can’t know what their parents and grandparents did to get through it. On the other hand, we can gain wisdom. We can learn from one another. Right now we are seeing the collaboration amongst countries. We can see conversation and mutual strategy developing across political party lines. We can see an opportunity to rise to be our best selves as we navigate our new normal.

We are all making choices each day in an ever changing dynamic. Keep asking yourself these two questions as you make decisions and choices. I’ve been pondering the various meanings and many positive outcomes of these questions for myself ever since my dear friend and I discussed this. . . 

  1. What can I do?  
  2. Who can I be?

Asking yourself ‘what can I do?’ helps you to direct yourself to:

  • Focus on moving forward and where you can take action
  • Acknowledge that creating calm and being present is in your control.

The question, ‘What can I do’ can help us commit to #CreatingCoronaCalm within ourselves and around us wherever we can. It is a time where we can practice the art and discipline of ‘being present’. 

The fact is, conditions have changed, parameters have changed. Just look at any grocery store. Look at the families who are home with their children all day instead of at school and at the office, look at the businesses who have had to shut down limiting social gathering places and affecting their financial stability. It’s been abrupt and it’s still in flux. Comparing today to yesterday will not create a calm. 

Therefore, you want to focus on ‘what is’ versus ‘what isn’t.’ For example, don’t compare today to yesterday. Looking back to yesterday will inevitably create a set of expectations. And unmet expectations inevitably create disappointment. 

In essence, accept what is and move forward from here. May I suggest that you can look at today as an opportunity to get creative, find new ways to look at things, be curious. Find new ways to stay connected with one another. Find new ways to stretch. Find new ways to inspire and model for those around you. These very actions activate the kinds of positive outcomes that await us when we ask the question, ‘What can I do’?

It’s worth noting, often times determining what you can do will involve contribution to another or others. Contributing to others takes the focus off yourself and allows you to feel both valuable and valued by focusing in on being of service to those around you – your family, community, your remote colleagues, etc.

This leads us right into question two: 

2) Who can I be?

You might be on a team that has never worked remotely before and all of a sudden you can’t walk down the hall, can’t have a spontaneous meeting, can’t lean over and ask for an opinion or help. . . But perhaps you used to work remotely in your prior job. This is a simple example of a moment to assume the behaviors of a leader. Leadership isn’t a title. It’s a mindset and a willingness to step up. Be supportive. Be proactive. Be creative. Many is the time crisis has bred new leadership.

When we are challenged it is a time to ‘see what we are made of, isn’t it? It may not be easy but growth doesn’t come from ease any more than muscle can develop without pain. Just as emotional strength cannot come without mindfulness and consistent practice. 

When we look back on this time in history, we’ll undoubtedly be asking each other: ‘How’d you get through the Coronavirus pandemic?’ much in the same way we ask: ‘Where were you when 9/11 occurred?’. The disruption and the sheer disbelief will be imbedded in all of our senses and forever in our memories. Because when crisis hits time stands still, and it leaves an indelible mark. 

Moving forward, you can ask yourself, ‘Who can I be?’ What will you want to recall about how you showed up in the times we are facing now? 

  • Do you want to be the person who provided comfort to others and led with grace?
  • Do you want to find creative ways to help others? Think of the Italians we’ve seen singing out their windows, or the childhood cellists who performed for their neighbors or the entertainers like Chris Martin, John Legend, Pink, and Keith Urban who are providing live-streaming entertainment with #TogetherAtHome
  • Do you want to have found new things you could learn? How you could grow? How you stepped up to lead?
  • Do you want to find new ways to work within a team, to work from home, to balance productivity with being present for friends and family?
  • Do you want to be generous? With your time? Your talents? Your words? Your ability to help with a Go Fund Me drive or share information that could help others? 

For me, I would not be helping anyone by singing!! But I can use my gifts of coaching, inspiring, and helping people look at things through a different lens.

There are many such stories where people rise in dark times. I can share a personal one that resulted in an unexpected set of outcomes. The time was the year 2000 when the dot com bubble burst and caused the stock market crash – another moment when time stood still. Literally our clients were 90% in technology at that time. My company was successfully consulting to these large companies and many start-ups in that period. Until the crash. The phones stopped ringing. There was an eery silence in our offices. Our clients were losing their jobs – senior level folks who had never been on their own before – and who were not going to have jobs to go back to.

The only thing that remained consistent were the bills. . . every month – month after month. Payroll, rent, insurances, rising credit cards to offset the used-up reserves of cash; all the expenses that go into running a small business.

Once the devastation seemed to stop spiraling we were left with the question of whether we could ride this out and for how much longer. It was a very dark and difficult time. Finally, I decided I had done all I could, I couldn’t control the timing of the economy nor the bounce back, but what I could do was focus on helping others. 

At the time we had a branding agency with a training component. It occurred to me that all of these top-level executives that were being displaced didn’t know how to become an entrepreneur or a consultant which was what they were going to need to do. I also recognized that the same 5 steps involved in building an organizations’ brand are the same 5 steps to building one’s own brand. With that insight I launched a workshop I called IndiBrand™. I invited VP’s of Marketing and VP’s of Sales – those that had been my buyers and those that had not – to a 2-day program.

We held them in our very cool loft office in Pasadena, CA. People walked out understanding who they really were, what they had to offer, what made their hearts sing, who their audience was and how they were going to approach their engagements.

It was incredibly helpful for them. And incredibly fulfilling for me!!

When we transitioned our services to a full-time focus on the training and workshops, the coaching and the keynote speaking, all of those same people helped us spread our wings throughout their organizations. And we were honored to continue to give them our very best! That was never the intention however, rather an unexpected outcome of focusing on helping others and pivoting to find a new way to be of value under extraordinary circumstances.

I have no idea what will come of these challenging times. I don’t know if our consulting practice, whose phones are very quiet once again, will endure the length of this challenge. I do believe that, in untold ways I could never have anticipated, my purpose will continue to drive me in the right direction and when the spiraling stops I will have landed in the spot I was best meant for, using my talents, doing the things that have value and where I’m best able to make a difference.

And I am certain I will be fueled by asking myself – ‘What can I do? Who can I be?’

I share this as an invitation to fuel yourself, and to rise in the midst of this uninvited ‘new normal’ to create your own calm, by asking yourself the same. . .