Two weeks ago, I worked with a stylist for the first time ever to find my best look for being on-stage. 20 years of hard work meant that I would finally hit the target revenue number of my dreams. The amazing @elsaisaac ordered 57 items for me from stores across the nation and she and I spent a glorious 3 hours on Zoom while I tried on outfits, discovering which ones worked. This moment was vulnerable and new and funny in its own way. It represented a hard-earned moment when I took my foot off the gas of growing my business through program development and sales and sunk into a lovely pleasure (my outfit), which has always been the last thing on my mind for my business. I worked with Elsa because I had the bookings and felt sure that THIS year would be the year, at last. The year I kicked it and hit an elusive revenue number I had long dreamed of, securing a comfortable retirement at last .
I let myself really believe.
Today, my calendar is empty. I have not been on a plane since March 4 and looking ahead, my next confirmed bookings in late May will likely also cancel. I have a big fat question mark not only on whether I will meet meet my financial goals but also whether I will have to lay staff off, seek State or Federal assistance, or pivot in ways I can’t even imagine.
I am scared.
And I am grieving.
I let myself harbor hope. I let myself take in a deep breath of air after years founding and leading this firm that at last, we were doing it. I had the A+ team, the A+ clients, two successful books under my belt, lots of interesting inquiries, solid speaking invitations for the year, and more time to think and create than ever before. And now, due to a tiny protein, the novel corona virus COVID-19, it is all either gone or on hold. On the dark days since this hit, I have wallowed in self-pity and beat myself up for believing that I had made it. How could I be so stupid?
Have you been feeling loss and grief like this? I feel you.
Here’s what else I know: on the good days, I am enlivened.
My young team is responsive and energetic and they believe in me. My clients are appreciative and grateful, even as they struggle themselves with innumerable losses. The pivots we were already making to deliver programs and keynotes virtually are being fast- tracked and our creative juices are flowing. There is beauty, innovation, and a lively newness in the possibility of succeeding against the odds in this landscape.
The work we do of helping leaders make their workplaces fit for human life has never been more relevant. The people at work and the leaders trying to forge new ways of doing what they do in business, in schools, in healthcare, and in government, are desperate for support in connecting and persevering. The world needs us, and needs me, and that is a call to action that obscures even my grief, my fear of failing, and my terror.
When I was a girl, my beloved horse Sera was prone to unexpected fits of terror. She would go from all steady and fun one moment to a wild bronco in another if she saw a pile of rags she thought was a mountain lion. Horses are, after all, prey animals. In those moments as a rider, I learned to hold as steady as can be, to take in air, put my hand aside Sera’s neck, and convey, with every fiber of my being, “we’ve got this.” Anything short of that could mean a mighty fall for me, or worse.
Now is the time I (and we) get to do for each other what I did for sweet Sera all those years ago: take in air, put our hands towards one another and convey, with every fiber of our being, “we’ve got this.”
Covid 19 is going to change us all.
But our dreams are still our dreams. Our clients, colleagues, families, and communities need us. And it is the way of the world that beauty comes from struggle.
I am all IN. How are you doing?