Am I the only one who cried this week? I bet I’m not.
The world is going through unprecedented change and nobody really knows what the future has to hold.
As we gradually edge towards a global lockdown, the reality of Covid-19 is beginning to sink in.
For a little while, there’s been a nervous energy over here in the UK. We’ve seen some parts of the world criticising our government for not doing enough, yet another bunch of opinions point at conspiracy theories and others slate people for being overly cautious.
It’s only in the past week that solid action appears to have been taken. We’ve moved from maybes and soft advice to hard line missives from the powers that be and businesses crumbling.
On Monday, I was working with a gym owner I coach, talking about social strategies, safeguarding and managing attendance levels. By Friday night, I was on the phone to the same man who’d just been ordered to close the doors of his business.
Our entertainment and leisure sectors have been decimated and plenty of other businesses have had the rug pulled from beneath them.
At the time of writing this, some of the hardest hit have been the self employed – sole traders, freelancers.
Though a package of support has been widely reported for businesses, those of us without physical premises and employees have so far been left out in the cold, with no available support until our businesses actually reach the point of collapse.
Whilst the optimistic few are banking on our government remembering we need help too, practicality means we must hope for the best and prep for the worst.
Honestly, there are people far worse off than we are right now.
My wife and I are both self employed and don’t currently seem to be eligible for any of the support programmes being put in place, but we’re okay.
Yes, we’ve been hit – three of my biggest clients dropped in the first part of the week, some have gone into panic mode and tried to break contract and we’ve both had to postpone live events. All speaking gigs have been cancelled, or moved to online only, too.
The sands are shifting beneath our feet and, for many across my country, the fear of financial collapse, of not being able to provide for our families, is worse than our worries around the virus.
As we’re both technically in the high risk group, my wife and I are now in self isolation. This brings yet another set of concerns – not least being unable to spend time with my mother, whose health is not great at the best of times.
Over here, it’s Mothering Sunday this week and we won’t be able to visit. Thank goodness for the wonders of video messaging!
And then there are the people who actually have the virus or, at least, are displaying symptoms. So far, three of our dear friends are down with it, including one with heart problems, who is terrified at the thought of being alone, having been refused medical attention and told to stay home in quarantine.
We know the numbers of coronavirus victims are still relatively low in the UK, though we’re being prepared for the worst and told to expect a peak just a matter of weeks from now.
And so, what’s to do?
Are we to just sit in abject fear and wait for disaster to hit? Hell no! Screw that!
There’s a reason so many people advise us to look for the helpers in the event of a disaster, so that’s what I’m trying to do – I’m helping wherever I can.
When the chips are down, when others are fearful, anxious, seeing their families in danger and their livelihoods going down the drain, it’s time to serve.
Serve and lead.
This is the time where those of us with skills that might pick people up need to shine brightest – whatever else is going on.
So, after tears and fears and emotional wobbles at the beginning of the week, by Wednesday morning my team and I had devised a FREE online seminar for up to 100 people, where I could offer free coaching, to whoever needed it, on stepping into our power, holding onto our sense of self and worth, leading, serving and, of course, doing all we can to keep our business brands visible and active through the crisis.
By Thursday, all 100 places had been snapped up, so we opened another 20, maxing out our Zoom room.
Aside from that, I started putting out more free resources through my social channels, did my best to cut through the drama and give people perspective and supported as many as I could through WhatsApp, email and messenger.
Of course, we need to keep our own businesses going too, so I also put out statements about the importance of supporting small businesses and sole traders and why we needed to work together to create a manageable dip, instead of panic cancelling each other into a sharper than necessary recession that might be much harder for us all to recover from.
From a business point of view, I reopened and expanded my subsidised budget coaching programme, created new lower-cost programmes, all payable in instalments, and opened a ‘make me an offer’ scheme for businesses who needed my help but we’re experiencing cashflow issues.
There’ll be more to come, too, but this was a start.
In a world where supermarkets are running out of products, people are stockpiling toilet rolls and zoos are talking about the possibility of euthanising animals because we’re being stupid and selfish with our purchasing madness, some of us need to step up and do what we can to make a difference.
We’re in this for the long haul – all of us. If we’re going to survive, we need to stop, breathe and think.
What’s really needed right now?
What can we do to help?
What action might we take to support, encourage and inspire those around us, online and off?
Though the future remains uncertain, one thing I know for sure is this: in using my time to serve others, my own mood and energy has shifted to a far more positive place.
The same might be true for you.
Whatever’s happening in your part of the world, we’ll all achieve far more if we step away from self-serving and move towards selflessly serving.
Stay safe. Stay well. Stay sensible.
Until next time,