In these challenging times, when everything that was familiar and predictable has been lost, there’s one word that’s been spoken perhaps more than any other–at least, for those of us leading teams and organizations. It’s a word that one colleague told me, “If I heard that one more time, I’m going to throw up.” Which made me think of this:
That’s right, the word we’re all tired of is PIVOT.
And yet, we know it’s what we need to do.
As I heard futurist Bob Johansen say at Pepperdine Univeristy in 2019, “The future will punish certainty, but will reward clarity.”
In other words, we must be clear on where we’re going but flexible in how we get there. In 2020, we’re getting a vivid reminder of just how true that is.
So, in this post, let’s talk a little about how you do that…
Grieve what is lost
For starters, we have to come to terms with the fact that we have lost something. The sense of familiarity, as I mentioned, but also, clients, revenue, team members… a beloved business model.
With any loss comes grieving. I’m not going to address that much here, given that we’re about four months into this coronavirus crisis right now, but I do want to acknowledge it.
Part of being flexible involves grieving what was lost. Then once you’ve reached the point of acceptance of what is, you are free to move forward.
See possibilities for the future
Here’s a question that I’ve found to be very helpful in letting go of the past and embracing what’s possible in the future:
How can it get even better than this?
What if there is something even better than where we were back in February, before we had any idea what was coming in March?
That may seem like an outlandish idea, but life–this universe–is always moving forward. Just think about your life now. What do you have in your life now that’s better than you could have ever imagined? And all of that has come on the other side of hardship, hasn’t it?
So, something better is possible.
The question, then, is how do we stay flexible–as noted–without totally getting off course?
Return to your mission
To translate that broad statement about staying “clear on where you’re going,” but being “flexible in how you get there” into something more concrete that puts on a path toward action, I would say this:
You must be fully committed to your mission, but flexible with your model of fulfillment.
Again, I’m writing this with business owners and leaders in mind, so when I say “model,” I’m talking about your business model, or your service model.
Interestingly, on a Thursday morning last October, I got a very clear vision of my mission–what I’m here for–and wrote it in my journal:
I am a voice for those who feel
overwhelmed, discouraged, lost…
My mission is to provide a place of refuge –
to show them that refuge is available right here,
right now, in this moment.
Not only is refuge available
in this moment, but something more…
You can rise in this moment.
There is magic in this moment,
if you are open to it.
There was some uncertainty in my life and business at that time, but I was in a very heart-centered state after spending a weekend in workshops with Gabby Bernstein and Dr. Joe Dispenza. (This comes back to the principle of “State Before Strategy.”)
Remember, my core business is speaking at events and helping clients arrange engagements with other speakers in my network, but I had this moment of clarity, with the thought:
“I can live this mission anywhere. I can live this mission at home with my son. I can live this mission on stage speaking. I can live this mission in my interactions with clients. I can live this mission in serving speakers and coaching clients. I can live this mission driving an Uber or doing administrative work in an office.”
That was such a freeing feeling! All pressure was relieved. And you know what? We went on to have our best month of the year that month, and that led into our best start to any year in our 17 years in business this year.
I’ve said it many times and there is abundant evidence to prove it: When you feel better, you do better.
Now, little did I know just how valuable that exercise of getting clear on my mission would be for 2020. When everything changed in March and April of this year, all I had to do was revisit my journal. I wasn’t locked in on speaking on stages or booking speaking engagements at The Speakers Group.
The question was simply, “What is the right thing, right now?”
Taking care of existing clients…
Looking for ways to add value to keep bookings and revenue up…
Creating an online course called “Working with What Is” so I would have an additional revenue stream, and a way to add value to speaking clients…
There was no panic. It was all a natural extension of my mission.
When you are mission-driven, having the way you fulfill your mission taken off the table isn’t the end of the world. It’s uncomfortable, yes. Challenging, yes. But once you come to terms with the disruption, you let go of the old model and come back to your mission.
Let’s bring this home and put it into action…
How do we build a business that supports the mission and can thrive in whatever environment lies ahead?
Many of us as speakers have shifted to virtual presentations, naturally. That’s one way to continue fulfilling your mission in this new world. But that’s just the beginning.
If we want to talk about, “How can it get even better than this?” so we emerge from this season with even stronger businesses–and even greater reach–than we had before, let’s take this time to think more creatively than just “I can do the same thing… only virtual.”
Let’s not just tweak our business to survive, but let’s take the steps to transform so we can thrive.
We’re getting ahead of ourselves, though. More on the “how” later.
For today, I just want to encourage you to reconnect with your mission if you haven’t done that recently.
Here are a few prompts:
- Who do I most want to help?
- How do I want to help them? (What outcomes – tangible or intangible – do you want to help them achieve?)
- Why do they need my help? (What challenges are they facing now? How do those challenges make them feel?)
- Why am I uniquely qualified to help these people/teams/organizations? (Think not only about your technical qualifications, but about your unique perspective or insights you’ve gained from your life experience through the years.)
Perhaps you’d like to put on some inspiring music, take a few deep breaths, and sit down with your pen and paper to let the words flow for 5-10 minutes. Don’t try to “reach” for the answers to these questions. Just see what comes out. You might be surprised.
BONUS: Do you think the answers to these questions might provide some good source material for your marketing materials? 😉
After writing, rate yourself: On a scale of 1-10, how well is your current business aligned with your mission?
Some questions to consider when deciding on your rating: Are you serving the people you want to serve? Helping them in the way you want to help them? Are there ways you’d like to be able to help them, if only you had some additional skills or guidance to do it?
If you’re at an 8, 9, or 10, then good for you. Celebrate that! If not, celebrate the fact that you just realized there’s a gap to close… and as you work to close it, you’ll be building a stronger, more fulfilling, business.
Either way, I celebrate you for pausing to do this exercise, rather than wildly jumping into the “how” as we’re so prone to do, which only results in more frustration, anxiety, and overwhelm.
Now that you’re reconnected with your mission, the “how” of fulfillment will come more easily. Stay tuned for more on that.
Thanks for being here, and for allowing me to join you on this journey!