"Jim, don't talk to me about plans right now. Things are crazy!"
I would like all of us to stop for a moment and read that statement again . . . go ahead, we've got time. Before I go any further with this newsletter, I want to make a few disclaimers. The person who made this statement over the phone was not a client, never has been, and probably never will be. They do not read this newsletter, never have, and probably never will. If they did read this little intro, they would not recognize it as their own and, if they did, would probably want recognition for the great advice they gave me.
It only took a few minutes into the conversation to realize that this person was not looking for a real, workable solution, but only hoping to find a silver bullet, a genie in a bottle, a gimmick . . . an easy way out. It occurred to me that I was fresh out of any of these things and was not going to be able to help. I simply wished them luck and apologized for not being able to help, to which they replied, "Well, this has sure been a waste of my time."
As I set the phone down on my desk, I thought that they were probably right, yet I smiled knowing I had the newsletter for this week and it was going to be called NO EASY WAY OUT.
It would be hard to fathom how many stories could come out of the challenges, struggles and unbearable tragedies of the past several weeks,not only in the U.S. and CANADA, but certainly all around the world. Even as I write this and try to comprehend what individuals have been faced with from illness to loss of family members, financial worries, business challenges, isolation, change, and complete uncertainty as to what the future will bring, it could actually paralyze me from typing the next word. So, I will do my best to control what I think about, or this will be a very short newsletter. I guess the things that can stop the majority of us who are able to read or write this newsletter is the thought of "an uncertain future," yet somewhere in that phrase is an opportunity I would like to explore for a moment. Isn't the awareness, acceptance and burden of an uncertain future in reality a blank canvas for anyone who chooses to paint what they want that future to be? If the future indeed seems to be uncertain for you and me at this present moment, doesn't it then make sense to at least choose to dwell on the potential for something greater when the future gets here? Consider just a few of the simple choices we all have the opportunity to make as we interact or choose to carefully not interact with others.
- Grow a beard if you are isolated, or dye your hair purple if you are being isolated . . . WHY? Because you can.
- See how many pages of a book you can read in one day.
- Text positive thoughts to friends and family that we can't see right now.
- Take up a new hobby or perfect the one you are currently engaged in.
- ABSOLUTELY NO FOX NEWS or CNN for the next hour.
- Be aware of the needs of others and offer to help in the most appropriate way.
- Practice more kindness and patience with others.
- Call friends and family in nursing homes since many cannot have visitors.
- Take time to meditate or dwell on things we are grateful for.
- For those working at home - take advantage of the opportunity to exercise and increase your self-discipline muscles.
- Give yourself a performance review looking in a mirror.
- Get outside for long walks together.
- Prepare the garden or flower beds for planting.
- More telephone or video calls
- Use online grocery ordering and pickup.
- Protect our elderly and let them know it is okay to stay home right now.
Business Decisions and Actions
- Find new ways to operate through online meetings.
- Find creative ways to still serve your customers without face-to-face interaction
- Revisit the mission and values of the company as a way of deciding how to deal with business decisions.
- Be aware of talent that may have been let go by other companies (not working a plan), and see how you can bring them to your team.
- Ask yourself and your team great questions focused on continuing to improve through the weeks ahead, and be a better company because of the experience.
It Really Is a Choice
I hope you see that our underlying message here is to make the choice to expect a positive outcome from what the future will bring by choosing to do the right things today. I could have listed just as many negative things to do as positive or outrageous ones, yet is there anything more outrageous or nonsensical than being part of the mob that buys up all of the toilet paper in the local store? Be intentional, be wise and be positive!
A Choice that Always Makes a Positive Difference . . .
We have always supported and promoted the mission of the nonprofit organization called COME ALIVE OUTSIDE that works to help people live healthier lives outside. I challenge us all to get serious about getting outside and take the 5x5 Challenge!