The last six-months has awakened the world to our collective vulnerability, and the immense changes that lie ahead. However, it is the entirety of the past thirteen months that would put my resilience to the test, prepare me for the last six months of COVID19, and validate the tools I’ve learned to use in the face of crisis.
2020 will likely mark the largest shift of consciousness experienced within our lifetimes. The effect of COVID19, the rise of the Black Live Matter Movement, and the United States Presidential election is forcing all parts of society, Businesses and Individuals included, to look inward. Especially as the world around us appears unpredictable and changing at a pace beyond compare. The philosophy on which I’ve built my professional brand building consulting practice applies in these moments too.
Always Return to Your Values
In times of extreme good and extreme bad, “always return to your values”.
The idea behind this approach is that very little is within our control that luck, circumstances and outside conditions do not affect. Two things we can control are our own thoughts and behaviors.
By having a strong sense of our values, we are able to sift through feelings and external factors to pick a path that we can be most proud of. Choices made intentionally. Not reactions to the moment or temporary conditions.
2019 would put my personal resilience to the test. Within nine months I would go through a breakup and the loss of two family members, each trauma almost exactly 3 months apart.
The break-up solidified a sense I was living outside of my boundaries and integrity. The loss of my brother three month later exposed a plastered-over crack in my self-confidence that would take every lesson in self care I could muster (meditation, daily movement, a conscious diet, and daily journaling) to convince myself I deserved to go on.
“I Lead with Curiosity, Compassion, and Grace.”
It was at that point that I decided to revisit a values exercise that had become a staple in my professional life.
I re-evaluated my values, and landed on these 5; “consistency”, “grace”, “leadership”, “curiosity” and “resilience”.
I molded the values into the personal mission statement, “I lead with curiosity, compassion, and grace.”
This statement was equal parts authentic intuition and sincere aspiration, and would be put to test in the months ahead.
I’d have moments where I couldn’t find my way to compassion. And other times where I’d lose my grace for a while before I’d rediscover it.
I Went into a Fully-Functioning Shock
October 17th, 2020 was one of these times. On the same day my job as a CMO of a Public Health nonprofit flew me out to San Diego, I received word that a second older brother had passed away.
My family’s world was rocked once again. And this time, without deep contemplation, I went into a fully-functioning shock.
My brother, an Army veteran, father of five, and heir apparent as patriarch in our family, had left this world. And the world seemingly found a home resting squarely on my shoulders.
My Instinct Led Me to Follow My Curiosity
There was no time to audit my values, it was happening so quickly. That was when the values work went into action.
I was able to keep my grace in the face of compounded pain. And when it came time to have empathy for myself, my instinct led me to follow my curiosity.
I made a less than calculated decision to travel the country sharing my story and asking for compassion.
I’d spend the next 5 months meeting family, acquaintances and strangers, all while asking friends new and old to join me in playing a game that spreads empathy.
By the time COVID19 hit and lockdown began, over 70 stores from San Fran to LA, LA to Florida, and Florida back up to NY had begun to sell that game. I found myself a 3 hour drive from my parents home in Florida.
It Was Time to Slow Down and Reassess My Values
I’d spend the next three months living with my parents. The most extended stay under their roof since I was 12 years old. It also meant I was no longer in a rental car, running away from my past, and toward some uncertain future, somewhere, on the road.
It was an abrupt change of pace, and a beckoning signal it was time to slow down and reassess my values.
Without revisiting my past results, I did the exercise again.
This time, the results varied only slightly. I landed on the values of “consistency”, “grace”, “leadership”, “curiosity” and “resilience’, which I merged into the following mission.
“Sprung from resilience and commitment to curiosity, I find the grace to lead with consistency.”
Including the new value OF “resilience”, allowed me to honor my past experiences, my ancestors’ challenges, as well as my family’s recent traumas. I would build upon this foundational value with pride and from a place of strength.
These collective values helped me show up for myself and my family in our grief, while also navigating the tumultuous business climate of COVID19 and Back Live Matter as a self-employed entrepreneur.
Staying grounded in my intrinsic motivations helped me to stick to my business’s values and mission of spreading empathy and human connection.
My Greatest Joy is Knowing I Survived and Am Stronger
I made a risky decision to make the game available for free and to use our publishing channels to speak out against racism. And it worked!
Our efforts would lead us to features by companies like Goop and Bumble, and even a feature by the Queen Beyonce herself, as part of her Black Parade list of Black-owned brands to buy. Today, Actually Curious the card game is one of the most buzzed-about gifts and games in North America.
I’m grateful for the added attention and validation these accolades have brought. However, remaining grounded in the tragic past that categorized the last 13 months, my greatest joy is knowing that I survived and am stronger than ever before.
These experiences of change, loss and pain, led me to exponential growth. They allowed me to put my tools to the test, and to engage in important dialogue with my inner self.
Today I have great love and trust for myself, and I live from a place of abundance versus fear.
I’ve learned how to find and re-locate my values, and so long as my actions are inline, destiny will take care of the rest.