It seems that no sooner have we wrapped our minds around one set of guidelines a new set is either being introduced or planned. Long gone it seems are the days when we can plan ahead, and along with it, it seems, that we can no longer look forward to what the future may look like, we can no longer be motivated or excited by what’s to come as the future seems so uncertain.
But more than that, it seems, that no sooner have we got used to how our business is going to operate, no sooner have we come to terms with how our business looks like, when the sands shift again and the whole landscape changes. The nature of responding to an external factor which is ever changing means that never before has running a business been so uncertain as it has now.
What cannot be ignored is the emotional impact that this can have on every business owner, their staff, and all whom they do business with. As human beings we’re not lovers of change at the best of times, yet here we are being faced with it on an almost daily basis.
What I have seen with clients who have come to me over the last six months is not uncommon. Higher levels of stress, anxiety, worry, fear for the future; clients who don’t know if they will have a business in one month let alone six and don’t know what the fallout from that will be; clients who have changed, adapted, and changed again, exhausted from having to constantly respond.
When we talk about businesses, it’s easy to innocently overlook that what lies behind every business is a person or group of people, all struggling and trying their best to make sense of what has happened this year; human beings with complex emotions and ever changing states of mind, reacting to each and every different set of circumstances and making decisions based on that. If life didn’t feel too much like a rollercoaster before Covid 19, I’d be surprised if it didn’t now.
In my experience I have found that when we have more understanding about our state of mind it enables us to navigate an ever changing landscape with more ease and resilience. It’s a little bit like driving a car but innocently believing that you only have reverse, then someone gives you a driving lesson and you discover not only you do you have 5 other gears, but also a steering wheel and a mirror!
In this blog I share three insights that clients have had over the past few months, I hope you find them helpful, you may find the concepts interesting or logical, but I invite you not to stop there but to be open to what you hear, what ‘insight’ or realisation that you may have when you read them.
You are built for the unknown, even if it doesn’t feel that way.
I remember the conversation with my client clearly, it occurred to me to question ‘what would happen if, as humans, we’d never had a fresh thought?’ My client, took a moment to answer and then replied, ‘we would never had evolved! We’d still be in caves!’ I then asked, ‘what would happen if from this moment we never had a fresh thought again?’ realising where I was pointing, he replied, ‘We’d be stuck, we’d wouldn’t move forward at all, we wouldn’t be able to work things out, have fresh solutions’. We then reflected on times when he had ‘figured things out’ when a solution or workaround had occurred to him.
Whilst it may have seemed like a ‘lucky break’ at the time, what he saw that he was experiencing, was a consequence of the deeper intelligence that every single human being has access to – our capacity for relevant, in the moment, fresh thinking, that literally enables us to evolve to the circumstances that we are in.
We are built for the unknown, even if you don’t feel like that sometimes. Our ability for fresh thought enables us to evolve, grow, change and come up with solutions for problems that we don’t know exist yet.
There is both power and value being in the present moment.
One thing that humans have which is an incredible gift is our imagination. It’s certainly been a factor in our evolution, that we are able to imagine what something could be like (and then be able to share that with others). However, there are times when we use this gift in a way that is not quite as helpful. Another client of mine, was doing just this. Her business had been badly hit by Covid regulations to the extent that it had virtually closed. When we spoke her mind was understandably racing, every sentence started with ‘what if’. She was no longer in the present moment with me but 2, 3, 4 months into the future, visualising exactly what that looked like and imagining what her reaction was going to be. The glitch if you like in our system, is that our bodies don’t know that we are imagining and respond as if all of that future thinking is happening ‘right now’. She was so stressed and anxious, she was tense, she wasn’t sleeping and nor did she know what to do. She was like a rabbit in headlights.
After we had chatted for some time, her mind settled, and she was more in the present moment. It is fascinating that we are able to do that, to bring ourselves back into now. Being in the present moment can be very valuable and powerful.
When she saw that it was her imagination, her thoughts, that were taking her into a future, a future that she couldn’t possibly know what it was going to look like, she calmed almost instantly. She also had the insight that when she imagined the future, she innocently forgot about her ability for fresh thought.
However, what started to happen was that she noticed when her mind was settled, she could hear that deeper intelligence more, she experienced fresher thought. She was therefore able to come up with some new ideas as to how she could serve her clients in a new and different way – resulting in the longer term survival of her business.
To react is human, noticing that state is transformational.
As humans, when our circumstances change it’s understandable that we react to them, we like things to stay as they are, we like to feel like we know what is coming around the corner. So when circumstances change unexpectedly, we become disrupted – our imaginations take over, we become fearful, worried, stressed or anxious. All of these are normal human reactions – like a stone being thrown into a beautiful lake – there are ripples!
A recent client was doing just this, with every client that cancelled, every regulation that changed, every plan that had to be altered, she experienced a negative reaction, become despondent and often made a knee jerk decision. However, what she found was that some time later, she had a different perspective on the situation and she’d either have to change or alter her position to accommodate this or even worse, she’d criticise herself for reacting that way.
When we had our discussion she was frustrated that she responded in this way and wanted to stop being this way, she could see that it wasn’t helping her business to be consistent and resilient.
Humans react, it happens, and just like the ripples in the lake, if left alone we too settle by ourselves. Trying to stop the reaction or prevent it from happening is a bit like patting down the ripples on a lake – it has the effect of making it worse or even prolonging it!
During our discussion what my client saw was that having such a reaction was human, it didn’t need fixing or preventing, she didn’t need to be immune to life! However, what she began to see is that she had an ‘in built’ system of settling and that by noticing when she was in a reactive state of mind, she could hang fire on decisions until she was more settled and clearer minded which resulted in better quality, consistent, decisions and she experienced more resilience.
Andrea Morrison is a Transformational Coach & Consultant, Tedx Speaker, Writer & Yorkshire Post columnist. She delivers state of mind training to organisations and coaches individuals privately. You can find more information at andreamorrison.co.uk