Let’s Tell Our Own Story About Crisis

3 MIN READ

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been resolving a conflict inside of me. This conflict has been a leadership one. Working out how to manage myself well has been challenging, at times to the point of overwhelming. The circumstances we’ve all been experiencing from the impacts of the virus are some of the most restrictive I’ve ever encountered. The abrupt changes and global uncertainty have been immense to take on.

Dealing With The Changes

It’s been really strange to face days where I can’t go out to an event or enjoy breakfast at a cafe. Walking down quiet streets has been surreal. Navigating crowded footpaths whilst trying to keep my distance has been frustrating and even scary.

Reading the news has been a rollercoaster ride for me. I want to stay informed, to comply with the latest rules, and to get the information I need to make decisions. I want to keep doing well with managing my health, my relationships, my business, my day-to-day plans. But the news has been harrowing. Stories of global lockdown, sickness and death … Some days the human vulnerability I saw was just so confronting that I needed to take a break altogether.

The Power Of Questioning Assumptions

I was out walking recently, reflecting on just how invasive all of it has been. News of the virus and its impacts on our lives has become the story we’ve all been telling. Progressively, I’ve noticed that I’ve been tempted to tell myself a story of restriction, hardship and poverty. And I’ve generalised this story too, imagining it might even apply to everyone else too. It’s become a really hard story to deal with. Trying to keep moving through the days is a burden under the weight of a story like that.

Then I listened to myself and I realised there were massive problems with the things I was thinking. The conflict I was experiencing wasn’t coming from the stress of the outside world. It was coming from inside me! I hope that by sharing these thoughts you might develop some new ways to respond to the hardships you’re facing too.

“Watch what you tell yourself, you’re likely to believe it.” Russ Kyle

Disempowerment Doesn’t Suit You

When you listen to a story that makes you feel trapped and hopeless, and you start to believe that story, you forget that you’re powerful to create new outcomes. Following requirements to stay home as much as possible and keep your distance if you need to go out is how things are right now. But this still leaves so much room for you to make choices for yourself across every area of your life.

Above all else, it is vital to keep this truth at the front of your mind in all things: You are the only one who controls your thoughts and feelings. Regardless of how powerless you might feel, you are always the only one with the power to be you!

 

You Can Tell Your Own Story

The story that’s being told through the media is only one side of the story. If you quickly pop your head up out of the trenches you’ll see evidence everywhere that people can, and are, bouncing back with new ideas and creative improvements. They’re still going where they want to go. In fact, many have found better ways of making progress because they had to adjust to the circumstances.

You’ll always have unique aspirations for the future to activate. Even amidst change, you’re are the writer of your story and the creator of your future. Lead yourself forward with a tenacious dedication to achieving your aims. Embrace flexibility and responsiveness as essential to success.

 

You Have Abundant Resources To Fuel Growth

The opportunities available to you right now far outweigh the limitations being imposed. In telling a new story, I’ve been marvelling at the privileges afforded to everyone by the internet. You can still stay up to date online, so most of the time the big stuff won’t happen without you knowing. You can still stay in touch online, so isolation does not have to be so isolating. You can still do business online, with the chance to make your business more efficient, streamlined and scalable than it ever has been before.

Instead of focusing on what can’t be done right now, cast your vision over the things you can do. It doesn’t suit anyone to tell a story of scarcity because the truth is that we always have everything we need to move forward. Harness the power you have to create new outcomes, map out a pathway towards that outcome, then mobilise what you need to embark on the journey. There’s nothing stopping you!

 

Thinking About Identity In Times Of Change

4 MIN READ

If you’re anything like me you’ve been riding a personal and professional roller coaster lately. The world has been turned upside down, so it can be difficult to feel confident that you know which way is up. I have invested heavily in my self-care to continue making progress through this time. I’m dedicated to keeping my head above water by anchoring into the core values and beliefs that make me who I am. These never change … and if you commit to unearthing more of those treasures in yourself you can hone them and polish them up to a brilliant shine, even in seasons like this where the world is locked down. Especially in these seasons!

“Success is a journey, not a destination” Arthur Ashe

We’ve all heard the quotes. They become tired pretty quickly. It’s not that their truth doesn’t remain … it’s just that they get boring!

So now, I am going to brave the challenge of attempting to shed new light on this journey of Becoming that we’re all facing right now … Without going down the path of cliches and platitudes!  I’m hoping that the timing of my thoughts might just cut through the craziness of the world at the moment. Our perspective is everything right now.

“We are the hero of our own story.” Mary McCarthy

How you see changes what you see” Kerry Anne Nelson

Thought #1: The World Does Not Happen AT You

I’m betting I’m not the only one who has slipped into victimhood lately. “I don’t deserve this.” “This is not fair.”

Get ready … brace yourself … I’m about to sting you with a slap of reality.

Life does not owe you anything other than what you have.

The market has never promised to do you any favours. You are no more special than anyone else battling it out in the trenches of this global Lockdown. Your customers will not spend with you just because “they should”.

Ouch!

But let’s pause for a second … because this harsh reality actually has the power to make your experience of life itself truly authentic and completely invigorating if you can flip it around.  The switch comes when you change the underlying assumption here. Move away from disempowerment through to embrace the truth that you have everything you need to move forward.

Instead of looking at what has happened TO you over this past while, start looking for the things that have happened FOR you. What new opportunities exist right now that could not have happened if things had followed the old path of your life? You might have more time to yourself, increased flexibility with your work,  greater opportunities to create and build, or a sharper focus on the things that really matter in life. Get busy making the most of the gifts that have landed right at your feet! If you look for them, you will find them, without a doubt.

 

Thought #2: You’ve Only Really Had One Real Power

“There’s nothing I can do to make a difference here.” “I’m drowning here!”

You feel powerless to fix this situation, like we all do … but the absolute truth of the matter is that you do have the power to choose how you respond in any given moment, even this one … regardless of how overwhelming or pointy it may feel. In fact, it is the only power you’ve ever had … REALLY.

You might have tried to convince yourself that you were in control of your world and in charge of everything that happened in your life. Now life is proving that this is not true. It has never been true.

But here’s the rub. Having the chance to learn this, or remember it fresh in this season really is a gift. It’s possibly the most empowering, transformational lesson you can and will ever learn. You are powerful to choose.

Don’t get me wrong here. Despite your powerlessness to dictate what happens with other people, events and circumstances, your power to create significant change cannot be underestimated. It is with this human power that entire worlds have been transformed throughout history. The same power demonstrated by heroes such as Nelson Mandela, Edith Cowan, and Amelia Earhart have possessed … that power exists in you!

I can hear some of your objections right now … “But what about when She did this to me, or He said that?” “What about when THAT happened?”

The same applies. Even in the rare times when a person is overtly attacking you or seeking to undermine your happiness. Even when the world has been shut down to avoid a virus that millions have caught and hundreds of thousands have been killed by. Even when your government is telling you and everyone else to stay home, shut up shop and stay away from the people you love. You still have the power to choose your response.

The real question is, how will you choose to capitalise on the gifts that have been put right at your feet?

 

Thought #3: Growth Has Always Been Situational

I’m a big fan of personal development. I take a lot of pride and reward in being the person who reflects deeply and honestly about who and how I am in any given moment. I often marvel at how endless this process of reflection is for all of us. It literally never ends! While there is breath in your lungs there will always be something new to learn about yourself and others.

This lockdown period might feel like you’ve been sucked into a vortex of devastating loss. So it would be understandable that personal growth is not at the top of your priority list right now. Like a gigantic wave, you might have the impression that the world has dumped you facedown into the ocean floor. This is a shocking situation that came from nowhere.

Life itself is a lesson and every moment is a teacher. The only way any type of growth occurs is within a situation. No-one could ever have known how they would fare in the face of a global pandemic, because it has never happened before. None of us could have predicted how the world would change, or how they would deal with it, because it was unheard of! It has been quite a surreal turn of events, yes.

Nonetheless, being faced with this kind of upheaval can remind us again that growth always comes right in the heart of the circumstance. Your breaking point is your making point. What are you going to make of this?

If I was going to run with an old saying to wrap up my thoughts today, I would say this:

It’s time to rally your intentions, beliefs and personal capacity to rise to the challenge of making a fresh new batch of lemonade with the lemons you’ve been handed!

But I want to keep my promise to avoid cliche’s and platitudes, so I will simply sign off with a reminder that how you see really does determine what you see. Always.

 

Leaders Step To The Side

4 MIN READ

I went for a walk the other day, keen to stretch my legs and enjoy the wide-open spaces of Footscray Gardens at the Maribyrnong River. It’s been a couple of weeks of the COVID-19 isolation period, so I’m increasingly valuing the wonderful opportunities I have to exercise  … perhaps more now than I ever have before.

It was busy at the river. It seemed lots of people had the same idea as me. Get outside. Go for a walk. Enjoy a jog. Walk your dogs and give your kids a run in the fresh air. This is normally a lovely shared experience. That sense of community is blissful. Enjoying the same experiences at the same time with people you don’t know often inspires a sense of camaraderie in me as I do life alongside my neighbours.

On This Day It Felt Threatening

But when I am dedicated to remaining at least 1.5m away from my peers, that river walk quickly started feeling like I was walking through a field of landmines. It’s not that I have a personal problem with any of the people at the river. I literally don’t know them. It’s that unless they’ve been tested, no-one can guarantee that their lack of symptoms means lack of the dreaded virus. We’re in a privileged spot in the world. Our island country has witnessed what has happened in other places, and we have the power to change outcomes here at home if we would just follow the rules and maintain a safe physical distance.

To be honest, I’m a fit and healthy middle-aged woman. I’m not too concerned about catching the virus and suffering a fatal end myself. But I am very concerned that I could catch it then inadvertently pass it on to others. It’s this concern that prompted my irritation when my fellow river walkers took up the entire path, pausing in the middle of the walkway to tend to their kids or their pets, with little consideration of maintaining that social distance that we all need to stay safe.

I really was annoyed. “How hard is it for that family to step to the side of the path to make way for others if they need to stop?” I thought to myself. To have to walk around those people who didn’t give me a second thought was frustrating. It felt rude and inconsiderate. Which really, when I am honest with myself, made me feel overlooked and unimportant.

Taking An Honest Look In The Mirror

There’s something very powerful that happens when you admit your true motives to yourself. It is humbling, yes. But it’s also hugely liberating and wonderfully empowering. Listening to my own thoughts inside my head made me realise that something as trivial as an awkward footpath moment with a stranger had pressed an ugly button inside me. More than that, I had chosen to give away my power in that moment. Crazy!

This realisation did not happen on the walk, but when I got home. There I am, thinking about those annoying footpath moments as I’m making dinner and taking my makeup off, and it hit me! I could have responded differently. I could have acted like a leader!

“Your rewards in life will be in direct proportion to the value of your service to others.” Brian Tracy

The Makeover Scene

The next time I was out was for my run a few days later. Same river. Same crowded paths. Save physical distancing requirements.

But different attitude.

On this run, I took pride in adopting the mindset of a leader. Today I wanted to share some of the ways I shifted. these are the lessons I continue to learn as a business leader and a difference-maker in my community. I hope they’re encouraging for you at this time:

“Serving others prepares you to lead others.” Jim George

A leader raises others up

It’s a stark contrast in this competitive world where everyone is looking for that “edge” to give them an advantage. But when you lead by putting others first, they are raised along with you. When you make it a priority to champion the success of others, you build a life of success for all. It is so wonderfully rewarding to celebrate victories you helped create.

A leader takes pride in going the extra mile

This is the business owner working up late to prepare for their team to work the next day. It’s the parent rising early to set their families up with the things they need for the day ahead. It’s the scientists working night and day to find a cure to a virus that has treated the world. Breakthroughs come when leaders dedicate to achieving them with everything they’ve got.

A leader sets the pace with integrity

The power of authenticity, morality and honesty cannot be underestimated. When your personal code is strong it inspires trust, rapport and connection. And from this place lives can be touched, differences can be made, and worlds can be changed. This is what people need from their leaders.

A leader invests in self-reflection

The leader knows this one simple fact: who they are in private determines what people see in public. This is a prerequisite of influence often overlooked by many. Honesty has always been the best policy, but this needs to start with you being honest with you. Challenging who you really are, what you really think, and how you really feel is the fastest way to personal growth that leads to increased capacity for change.

The Moral Of The Story

Walking or running around those who have stopped in the middle of the pathway is not a curse but a blessing. Choosing to create that space for others before it is even required is the decision of a leader invested in making the world a better place, one river walk at a time. Maybe my reflections will help you make it through the challenges of the lockdown. Maybe they will help you rise to be an even better you. It’s all about growing together, right?

 

Locking Down Routines For Growth

3 MIN READ

In December 2019 I made a commitment to clean up my act. I had fallen into typical business owner habits that saw me working too long and letting my self-care go. I was incredibly motivated to make this positive change. I had put on a whopping 15kg over the previous three years, and I was miserable. My back hurt, my body felt weak, and I wasn’t sleeping well. The turning point came when my doctor told me that my blood pressure was so high I was at risk of having a stroke. I was 44 years old! My sorry state had become a crisis that needed urgent attention. And I was on it!

“The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”
Samuel Johnson

Making The Change

With the help of Dr Linda Wilson, a dear friend of mine, I developed a new set of five tiny little tasks that would become my new routine.

  1. Drink 3 L of water every day by 12pm
  2. Do 10-15mins yoga every day
  3. Make the bed every workday
  4. Workout 4 times per week
  5. Alcohol-free 4 nights per week

I began this routine on December 15, 2019. Today is April 9, 2020. I do admit a few glitches here and there. But with Linda’s support, and my trusty HabitBull app, I have largely kept on the straight and narrow. And it’s working! I’ve lost 5kg and my blood pressure has returned to a healthy level. I ran 7km last week, and I’m planning to run 9km tomorrow on Good Friday.

This could easily be a story of incremental improvement or the power we have to change. But it isn’t.

Because Lockdown.

The Power Of Habits

I had no idea what the world would become only a few months after I started working on building these healthy new habits. I couldn’t have guessed they would become the one pillar of certainty I could rely on when everything else started falling apart all around the world. I could never have known that these tiny little commitments would become the currency I used to secure my confidence, power, and sense of control when all of that felt like it was taken away.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aritotle

I have never doubted the power of a positive routine. Helping business owners set them up for themselves and their team is more than rewarding. It is transformational. Watching owners building tools to delegate work to team members who work with confidence and efficiency is truly a sight to behold. When people know what a good job looks like, and have the resources and support to achieve that every time, it establishes the formula for productivity, engagement and team spirit that growth is built on.

I knew these things in my work because I have seen it in my own businesses and I have helped others achieved it in theirs.

Routines For Growth

But I have never known the benefits of dedicating myself to healthy routines the way I do now. I could never have had this realisation before. Even if I had made the change to living this way two years ago. Even two decades ago. I could never have come to understand the power of healthy habits the way I do now.

Because, just like you, I have never been in Lockdown before. I have never heard the eerie quiet of deserted city streets. I have never seen the desperation of supermarket shelves stripped bare. I have never felt the fear of an invisible disease threatening our health, our economy, our business survival.

Locking down routines for growth has been the one thing to balance my perspective amidst the uncertainty this surreal season in global history. It has allowed me to hear the quiet voice inside that tells me I am resilient enough to make it through. It has opened my eyes to the real beauty that exists in human connection and affection. It has allowed me to feel the calm that comes from confidence in who I am and what I can become through this.