If we come out of this experience with just one positive I hope it’s a better understanding of how differently we each face a crisis. A sentiment best summed up by a meme shared by parenting educator Maggie Dent last week.
If you need a hand with perspective right now – this is a great start:
“We are not all in the same boat. We are not all in the same storm. For some it’s a sprinkling – this is a break. A breather… For some it’s a storm. It’s a bit scary… For some it’s a hurricane. It’s tearing at the boards and pulling up the roof… It’s not wrong to be enjoying the sprinkles or enduring the storm, but please don’t negate the difference. Rest with family, but please don’t minisme the hurricane engulfing your neighbour.Laugh at the meme, but get on your knees for your friends. Get in someone else’s storm.”
Most days, I’m halfway between sprinkling and storm. My entire career has been spent online so for me work has changed very little – a fact that goes straight to my gratitude list every morning. I’ve tried to adapt to the isolation in the the rest of my life by spending as much time as I can outside. I take all my personal phone calls outside in the park across the road, or while walking around the block. I’ve also been using the super early hours of the morning to get key work tasks done before my kids wake up to start the day. And eating dinner really early and wrapping up the day up more slowly.
These are simple changes that have made a positive change to the flow of what is normally a very hectic week and I’m grateful for them too.
To me these outside rituals help my online life to thrive – so striving for balance in my opinion right now is absolutely key.
As we gear ourselves up for another month or so of living life this way – perhaps there’s value in challenging our perspective. Regardless of whether we’re facing sprinkle, storm or hurricane is there even just one area of our lives that we could push into thrive mode, as we continue with these temporary isolated lives?
These 6 inspiring business women certainly think so:
1.’Adopt tech to assist you’
“This is double edged. On one hand I believe human connection including face to face and touch is an imperative. On the other hand, with the advances in technology it is extraordinary what we can achieve and how connected we can be online. Having decentralised my team completely in April 2018, I’ve been staying connected using tools such as Asana, Dropbox, Google Docs, Zoom, Whatsapp, etc for the past two years and as a team we’ve never been happier nor more productive. So yes, 100% from a business perspective if you can adopt tech tools to assist you, you can most definitely thrive online. Hand in hand with this, in my experience must be the ability to have rituals, routines and discipline to give you the structure.”
2.’We have responsibility for the energy we put out’
“I think its entirely possible for us to thrive in an online environment. When you think about it we have the responsibility for the energy we are putting out. When it comes to my online baby Supercharged Food, I want to reach people and ensure that it’s a positive exchange and helpful. I’ve created a pantry guide to self isolation and shopping list, loads of recipe videos and I’ve been more productive than ever. Working online can have its challenges however, when I’m feeling a bit ‘blah’ from not being able to see people in the flesh, I take the pup for a wobble or do an online yoga or fitness class to break up the day.”
3. ‘Time is a gift’
Kate Christie, founder of Time Stylers
“This time is a gift. We have been gifted this beautiful opportunity to focus on what matters most – keeping our family, ourselves and our communities safe. This is also a time for growth. Use this time to learn, to discover, and to create – new information, new skills, new products. You will never again in your lifetime receive the gift of time – so use it well.”
4. ‘Thriving is a state that requires 5 things’
“Yes, I believe that it is possible (in the short term at least) to thrive, even if most of our life has gone “online”. Thriving is a state which Dr Martin Seligman, one of the key founders in the field of Positive Psychology, says requires 5 things:
1.Positive emotions including optimism, sprinkled throughout our days;
2.Engagement in activities that are interesting and rewarding for us, be it work, hobbies or exploration of new activities;
3.Relationships that support, nurture and encourage us, giving us a place to feel we belong;
4. Meaning – a sense of meaning and purpose in our life, which might come from working for a good company, raising children, volunteering for a great cause or expressing ourselves creatively; and
5. Accomplishments – moving towards our goals which keeps up moving forward in life.
As you can see, someone’s PERMA might have been tied up in a lot of external activities that they have recently (temporarily) lost, like work that is meaningful to them in a workplace that has good relationships and engagement. HOWEVER I do believe that we can find PERMA in our new normal (for now), if we remain flexible and learn to appreciate the smaller things. Can we do PERMA in the home office? Sure! Here’s my new PERMA:
Positive Emotions: I’m focusing on trying to be more optimistic and look at the bright side (I’m safely working from home; I have everything I need; the garden is looking lovely today; I’m lucky to be in Australia with great medical care available), as well as making a point of slowing down to enjoy the smaller things which I wouldn’t normally have time for – slowly sipping a cup of my favourite tea, ten minutes to read a few pages of an inspiring book, enjoying my daily walks.
Engagement: I am finding new ways to use my expertise to serve my clients, get stuck into interesting back-shelf projects, and taking time to enjoy jigsaws and colouring in rather than just sitting in front of the TV.
Relationships: I am investing a lot of time in staying connected to my people and checking in with them for chats. If anything, relationships are more intentional now as I purposely make time for them.
Meaning: I’ve found small opportunities to volunteer and help people out which has filled a gap for me in not being able to be in a Training room or on stage anymore! I’m still helping people, just in a different way and that still feels good.
Accomplishments: I’ve reset my expectations to a reasonable level for this time – if I manage to make my bed, tick three things off my work list, make a few phone calls and go for a walk or do some yoga, that’s a pretty good day!
In the long term, more ability to engage with the wider world is ideal; but right now, by resetting my expectations and having compassion for myself and others, I can still enjoy many smaller moments of PERMA and continue to thrive, even in difficult times.”
5.’Maintain awareness first’
Author, speaker and mindfulness coach, Lisa Forest
“It is possible to thrive, but awareness is the key. If uncertainty, a fear of the unknown, a desire to know when ‘all this is will be over so we can just get back to normal’ are driving the time you’re spending on-line, then those emotions will reveal themselves in the impulse to check for Covid-19 updates more often than the news can provide them. Constant checking and scrolling social media feeds do nothing but fuel the stress hormones which weaken the immune system. I’ve been suggesting checking in with the news in the morning and the evening (like it used to be back in the ‘old-days’ before a 24-hour news cycle was normal). Then during the day, use impulse to check in with the news as a cue to check in with your emotional state – take a deep compassionate breath and tune into body sensations, thoughts and emotions. Let yourself feel what you’re feeling. The actions you take once you’ve let the fear-based emotions pass will be wiser. One of the dangers of working from home is that we can work all the time, so burnout is a real possibility. Again, set reasonable hours, work in a different space to where you relax, or put the lap top out of sight or a lovely piece of fabric over the desk top screen when your ‘day’ is over. And while everyone is different, if you’re going to do some on-line training or education why not chose something you’ve always wanted to do but never had time? Even something fun. Joseph Goldstein, one of the world’s most senior Western mediation teachers tells students to be of the ‘in-order-to’ mind. That is, I’m meditating ‘in order to’ … relax etc. The Covid-19 challenge is forcing us to live moment-to-moment, day-to-day, so take an on-line course purely for what it will offer you in this moment rather than the future. And remember that stress hardiness has three components: a commitment to making the most of life, understanding what is and isn’t in our control (and letting go of what isn’t) and seeing challenges as opportunities for learning and growth. If we’re spending all our internal resources wishing for a return to how things were then we’ll be unable to see the opportunities that this moment may offer us. I appreciate this is not easy if you’ve lost your job. But, again, if emotions like fear, anger and frustration are fuelling your actions then it’s very difficult to move forward effectively. Letting go of the past and grounding ourselves in the present through our senses and the breath is the key to thriving, whatever the challenge.”
6. “We are opening to a new level of connectivity and opportunity’
Tori Kopke, founder of 20/20 Marketing
“I have been running my business around online education for almost four years, and have an incredible virtual community of rural women that are gathered from across the country. Taking things online removes so many barriers and allows people to connect with others based on interest and passions rather than just geography. Access to community and education is entering an unprecedented era, and it is so exciting to be a part of. Digital communities are going to continue to thrive and grow as we are opened to a new level of connectivity and opportunity. “