Let’s create the future. NOW!
When COVID became a reality for us in mid-March, I made an abrupt shift in my business. I began preaching to anyone and everyone, ‘Stay in front of your customers and tribe. Let them know you are there. Let them know you are a human with emotions too.’ I even followed my advice and put my podcast on hiatus so that I could stay in touch with you every week.
The reasons behind that change in focus lie in something that happened to me more than twenty years ago.
During the time of my first business venture.
Just as my creation was entering the ‘now on solid feet phase,’ my Mom decided to try to take her own life. Immediately my world was turned upside down, and I frantically donned the cloak of caregiver – a job I held for nearly 20 years after that. Within a year of my Mom’s failed attempt, my younger brother died. In a DUI accident.
The absolute worst thing I did in those days was NOT stay in touch with my customers and suppliers. I abandoned them to heal my and my family’s pain. Unfortunately, when I finally resurfaced more than a year later, my customers and suppliers had moved on!
Big lessons learned. It is a terrible move NOT to stay in front of one’s customers or suppliers– no matter what side of the crisis table you sit. Honesty, compassion and caring is the best tonic ever invented. In combination, it works for everything and everyone.
Then about eight years ago
I had the dirty job of taking a client company through the process of bankruptcy. Believing personal communication and honesty were vital, I called each of the nearly three hundred suppliers. Each took my call, listened to my sad story and graciously thanked me for keeping them informed. I found those conversations incredibly tricky and was surprised when I discovered much later that delivering bad news in person is not part of the routine that anybody in the bankruptcy world regularly follows.
As a result of those agonizing conversations, I learned another valuable lesson. When you admit you don’t have all the answers and share the facts and circumstances, you do know and have, your audience respects you MORE. Not one of those suppliers yelled or swore at me, and no one refused my request for additional credit. In the end, while nobody received any remuneration for their outstanding bills, many of them asked me to keep in touch with them, because, in their words, ‘you got into my heart. I care about you’.
The power of our words
In my experience, staying in contact with and of remaining real and genuine, is incalculable. Leadership is sometimes referred to as paying attention to what breaks your heart. This belief stems from thinking a break in your heart sets your free to fly — on the lit path of your own life’s work.
I believe you, and I can agree 2020 is the year our hearts broke. Whether becoming infected with the awful virus, losing a loved one or friend to that virus, or losing our livelihoods or businesses. Nobody has been spared; across the world, we have all suffered.
Then these last ten days. As we wait impatiently to get back to a different life, surrounded by people in some capacity, we have been watching what appears to be the last chapter written about the story of our neighbours to the south. The greatest country that once was. We have watched the nation-wide peaceful protests against all the bass-ackwards ways the race card has been played there for centuries. Some of us have silently examined our attitudes inside of our beautiful and multi-national country. And many have finally realized. Yes, even we proud Canucks, come up short.
It is difficult to see much positivity right now, isn’t it? It’s also challenging to write something inspiring or uplifting. Because on too many days, I have no words.
However, this is NOT the time to give up.
It is time to create the future
There is an old phrase running through my head — constantly. “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”
I believe we will all be stronger when this finally passes. And we can create the future and the lives we need. I know this because, just like you, I have lived through stuff that has forged me into a strong creature.
I know this because you are smart and kind, and know right from wrong. And because I trust you.
Please. Trust yourself. Trust your gut. Stay safe. Stay strong. And keep trying to make the world a better place. Together we can.
And if my shoulder or brain might be useful to you right now, let me know.