Now is the Time to Create the Future
When COVID became a reality for us two years ago, I made an abrupt shift in my business like so many of us. 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.’
That change in focus lies 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. My younger brother died within a year of my Mom’s failed attempt. In a DUI accident.
The worst thing I did in those days was NOT stay in touch with my customers and suppliers. Instead, 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 are the best tonics ever invented. In combination, it works for everything and everyone.
Then about ten 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 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. None 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 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 you free to fly — on the lit path of your own life’s work.
I know you, and I agree that in the last two years, and now in the middle of a crazy war waging in Ukraine, our hearts broke wide open. 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; we have all and are still suffering across the world.
It is difficult to see much positivity right now, isn’t it? So 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 in-between phase 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 and your judgement.
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 helpful to you right now, let me know.