The 14th of March 2020 was a Saturday night, it was the Awards night for my professional association, Professional Speakers Australia. It was our industry’s ‘night of nights’. We had gathered in Adelaide, South Australia to attend our annual conference to learn, share and celebrate our wins for the past 12 months.
Loud whispers were rolling out about a new dangerous form of flu and by the time the Awards night arrived most speakers were rethinking how their business was looking for the next quarter and beyond.
That was a bittersweet night. I was awarded the Breakthrough Speaker of the Year Award while our Prime Minister was encouraging all Australian’s to get home in preparation for a lockdown.
Minute by minute our industry, like tourism, hospitality, entertainment, music, arts industries, (to name a few) were rapidly crumbling.
The following week it took only 2 emails and 1 phone call to turn my most profitable quarter yet into my worst. I know I wasn’t alone, and I know others had far worse situations confronting them. And we were not even at the epicenter of this disaster.
I spent the next few weeks, in what I realise now, was shock. I dawdled aimlessly through the next few weeks, not being sure of what to do. I know quite a few people who were in the same situation dived under their doona and binged Netflix as a strategy to see out the pandemic. I gave that strategy a go for a day or so but found it negatively impacting my mental health. It was as though I could see myself on that sofa slipping into a headspace that would not serve anyone, including me.
Fight, Flight or Freeze!
During those early days of the pandemic did you have an amygdala hijack?
An amygdala hijack is an emotional response that is immediate, overwhelming, and out of measure with the actual stimulus because it has triggered a much more significant emotional threat. The term was coined by Daniel Goleman in his 1996 book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.
I froze! What did you do, ?
It was midway through an episode of one of my favourite Aaron Sorkin’s genius, Newsroom, where the News boss, Charlie Skinner, was making one of his speeches to rally the crew and it hit me…
Make your darkest hours be followed by your finest hours.
I then caught myself loudly contemplating,
“If I need to get going, to kickstart my momentum then I need a quick win, and to do that I need a short goal!”
I’m an avid goal setter so while Newsroom played I doodled on my notepad exploring how a quick win with a short goal might look.
To my way of thinking a quick win has a clear and direct link with momentum, but the question that needed an answer was what does a short goal look like.
It takes three clear steps:
It seems obvious but you do need to decide that it’s time to get moving! Inaction is a decision, so too is deciding to do something different.
Deciding to act requires you to consider a goal, an outcome, a point B for your point A, an intention.
Work out how you’ll achieve your goal. This means designing the way forward: having a plan. S.M.A.R.T. Goals are boring! S.M.O.O.T.H.E.R. goals are far more effective. You can read more on S.M.O.O.T.H.E.R. goals here.
Put your plan into action!
I got up, walked into my office and started serving. I had to get out of my head and back into what I do best and what I love doing: helping others.
I started with reconfiguring this weekly e-newsletter into a more personal email that had content with one purpose: to help managers and leaders be the best they can be so they can help their people be the best they can be. You may recall some of this emails. The emails didn’t have any pitching of products or services, only one simple offer … if you need a coaching call, reach out, no charge, I’m here to help you so you can help your people and your business or service.
From having coaching calls all over the world, I added in online ‘staff drop-ins’ on Teams and Zoom to have short uplifting and motivational sessions with managers and leaders teams.
This outward focus of attention is what saved me from what I can only assume would have become a very unhealthy situation.
By the time the end of 2020 ended I was gradually getting back to delivering presentations and workshops, face to face and online, I thought we might be through the worst of it. I will even admit to waking up on the 1st January 2021, not so quietly hoping it was just like Y2K – a storm in a teacup. No such luck, right?!
At the end of every year I reflect on the wins and lessons and start planning for the year ahead. I set a big word and intention for the year ahead and reverse engineer quarter by quarter and month by month how I will realise that word and intention into action. But this was the beginning of a very different kind of year.
One of the themes that emerged from my own stalling, and then all the coaching and team drop-ins I had conducted through 2019, was momentum.
- How do I reignite my own momentum?
- How do kick start the team’s momentum?
- How do we harness our bruised and limited force and strength to gain motion and keep going?
Use the 3 D’s: Decide, Design, Do!
Australia is currently going through a new wave of increased cases and while these are not as bad as other places it does push work and life back into the ‘uncertainty’ box.
When uncertainty hits, that’s the time to double down on maintaining momentum or kickstarting it as quickly as possible.
I’d love to know what you do to kickstart your own momentum.
MANAGING UNCERTAINTY WORKBOOK
COVID-19 has pushed everyone out of their comfort zone! Managers are being asked to drive performance and productivity all while uncertainty is the only certainty with how people can work safely.
The Management Success Book, Managing Uncertainty, covers tips, strategies and ideas for managers to:
- Understand the stage of uncertainty
- Leading self through uncertainty
- Productively during uncertainty
- The leaders voice during uncertainty
- Leading remotely during uncertainty
- Silver linings from uncertainty
- The way forward