It has occurred to me that this awful covid pandemic crisis could have a silver lining.
No, not that more people work from home, but that's true.
No, not that we're all more aware of how we spread our germs - all kinds - but that is a good thing.
No, not that we've figured out how to better appreciate time spent at home, but that is cool.
No, not that we've all learned to bake banana bread, but I won't complain about that.
The silver lining I'm thinking about is that this crisis offers us a stock/standard reason to say NO to some things...to get out of some commitments...to make changes we've wanted to make but have thus far hesitated.
Have you noticed how tolerant we've all been with each other during this time (not all, but many)? When people say they're having a hard time focusing, we say, "it's understandable." When people lament that they weren't able to meet _____ expectation, they get empathy and support. People get it - this is a weird time. We're in flux.
Sidebar: After I was first diagnosed with cancer, I got all kinds of grace and understanding when I backed out of things or changed commitments, or changed my mind or goals. It's understandable and was warranted. This is what loving human beings do for each other. AND...every now and then, I played the "C-Card" to make a change that I would otherwise have been too self-conscious or guilty to make. And while you might be thinking I was being a manipulative person, using my disease to garner unwarranted support, hear me out. If I was no longer committed to something or still inspired to accomplish a goal, I should never have felt bad about making that change. But sometimes we do feel weird, because we don't want to disappoint others. But here's the kicker, people are often more disappointed when we aren't straight with them about what's really important to us and - perhaps - what is no longer as important.
Back to covid. It's a great time to take stock of your life and identify and changes that you've been wanting to make but have hesitated. Use the current situation to provide a bit of cover, to make it feel less weird. I LOVE this idea and have already implemented a couple of changes. Several more are in the works. And the lovely thing is that these changes will set me up to experience a more fulfilling and misadventurous life.
What might you STOP, START, or CHANGE that would make a big difference?
Repeat after me: You know, this covid crisis has turned parts of my life upside down and I've been thinking about what it all means or should mean. And what I realize is that _____________ (this is where you say, what you want to stop, start, or change).
And this is all true and authentic. This crisis, like any (even like being told you have cancer), has made us all take stock a re-think some things. Let's use this opening to act upon what we know is best for us now.
I attended a Startup Advantage zoom session yesterday that offered a few interesting tips.
The talk was called, Get Uncomfortable: A Mindset for Innovation and Disruption. It was lead by Randall Stevens, CEO of AVAIL and co-owner of two large coworking spaces.
He related his ideas to a large disruption we're all living through right now: covid-19 and its reverberating impacts. Here are the key points:
Stop, slow down, or change what you can and should. This means that, even if decisions are difficult, we need to adjust some things. And as leaders, entrepreneurs, and community members, it's our responsibility to have eyes wide open and act accordingly.
Tell a new story. You might have a product, service, or skills that could help people and organizations right now - especially right now. Think Zoom. Think NTI technologies. Think grocery delivery services. But to add value and operationalize this capability, we need to tell a new story so that potential users or customers, who might not be thinking this is something they need or could trust, see the potential for how it might add value to their work or life.
Create features FOR the moment. Any disruption - whether broad like covid or specific to one location or industry - calls for some things to stop and new things to begin. What are the services, messages, tools, or features that would best serve the moment? I decided to start this blog at this time partly with this in mind. That people might need suggestions and encouragement for how to best enjoy their lives and careers during this major disruption. How to have fun in a fog kind of thing.
Meet your "customers" where they're at NOW. Things have changed. Needs have changed. Bank accounts have changed. The structure of family life has changed. Recreation has changed. Goals and aspirations may have changed. Don't expect people or organizations to restart right where they were in January. Start thinking about how to best help and serve them based on their current reality.
This is not rocket science, but it is helpful to think about at this time. I'm going to use these suggestions to assess how best to ensure the success of my writing, the Lexington Writer's Room, and my other endeavors. I hope you will, too!
I'm as Type A as they come and my swirling mind constantly takes an inventory of how things are going. I'm a world class list-maker and until recently, this was the problem. WHY? Because I was listing the wrong stuff. The silly little gnatty items that, when checked off, felt momentarily satisfying.
But then left me feeling hollow inside thinking. Is this all there is to my life - tasks? Which is silly, I know, but a problem I created.
I don't want to die a person who crushed to-do lists filled with meaningless, soul-sucking tasks.
Epiphany time! What if I changed what I put on my to-do list?
I love the Todoist App. This is the first to-do list app that I've enjoyed, stuck with, and feel is totally worth paying for. You can make it "do" whatever you want. And when you check things off, you get "karma" points which I psychologically love earning. And this is the first app that has flawlessly synched across all my devices (had major frustrations with others in this regard).
Want to create a list of dumb stuff? Check. It can do that.
Want to create a list of micro-misadventures? Check! Ding, ding, ding! Let's do this.
And so that's what I'm doing now, and it's helping me have better days. I still have basic reminders on my list, but I ensure I have 2-5 items that have misadventure potential. Apps work great when we put great data into them. Here's an actual pic of today's to-do list in my Todoist app. You'll notice a mix of the usual boring stuff (take pills) and more interesting stuff.
Give it a try!
And now I get to check off a fun thing I've done today.
Not sure if you're like me, but I break promises I make to myself way more than I fail to follow through on promises I make to others. This is pretty natural, I think.
It therefore makes some sense that if we want to up our chances for follow through, we should make more external commitments.
AND! If you want to amp up the misadventure-quotient (that's a measurable thing*), you can make a commitment to do something, or achieve something, or create something, that seems impossible at the moment that you make the promise. And extra credit if the commitment has teeth - skin in the game - like enrolling in your first marathon, or entering a story writing contest, or putting something at risk if you don't follow through.
Here's a recent example. I've been wanting to create a space where active writers worked together. A cool, enriching, tricked-out workspace filled with literary creatives. This was a tricky idea because most writers don't make very much money and can't afford market-rate office space. Coworking spaces are nothing new, but they're filled mostly with tech workers because they work for companies who can afford the space rental. It was also unlikely to succeed because I was relatively new to Lexington, KY and had not yet developed my writer network.
Had I started by creating a business plan, with financials and outlined all the barriers, it never would've happened. Instead, I tried the back-assward (technical term) approach.
First, secure the space. I asked the owner of a coworking space to show me some rockin' corner unit space. I told him I wanted that space. It was going to be pretty expensive.
Second, find a couple of writers who love the idea. I then started meeting with a few writers to share the concept and recruit partners. I was lucky to get a recommendation to contact two writers who were at the time barely acquaintances. BUT! We clicked and they loved the idea. They were in.
Three, do the stuff most people do first. When all where all in, we went back and figured out all the things that needed to happen to make this idea a real thing.
And it's a reality and I'm now the proud board chair for our legit nonprofit org., the Lexington Writer's Room. We've had some major challenges (covid!) but have created something truly special and better than the impossible vision I imagined. It's 650sqft of literary productivity wonderland, completed with snacks and a high-speed printer. Our member writers are delightful and talented.
I'm quite sure this would've never come to fruition had I approached the idea using a methodical and logical route. I got BACK to that approach, but not before I was in too deep to wimp out.
Promise, then Figure it Out
Personally, I'm just not motivated or disciplined enough to do things in the correct order. But if I put enough skin in the game, I somehow tap into my ability to make the impossible possible (perhaps this goes back to the 40% rule I blogged about earlier?).
Give this a try and tell me about it. I'm cooking up my next big promise now...
*Not measurable, but you'll feel the power of it.
I'm digging this new hack. Life is big and heavy - especially NOW - but we can find the time and energy for micro-misadventures. Even me (drugged up on hormones and oral chemo).
What's a micro-misadventure?
Five to thirty minutes of delicious mischievousness that has the following qualities:
- You're quite interested and engaged to do this (hardest part for me).
- High potential that things will go way wrong. In other words, this is not something you already know how to do and do every day.
- It's a new or slightly new. Some aspect of this action is unknown to you.
Here's a brainstorm of potential MMs - these are my ideas, your results will vary. The point is to be deliberate and to seek at least one MM each day. Start with right now.
- Play You Tube Yoga Class Russian Roulette - search for 30-minute ______ (chair, standing, dancing, crazy) yoga class and select the fifth one you find.
- Paint something in the house a bright color.
- Try something (legal) that is known to have psychoactive properties.
- Sit outside, select a bird that's making some noise, and practice mimicking it's call.
- Go live on Facebook right now and talk about something that is fascinating you at the moment. Invite input or support.
- Offer to do something new for someone that you've never done before. Like cutting their hair, sewing a shirt, making a happy hour cocktail with different ingredients than you've used before.
- Bake something for you've never baked before (basically anything).
- Die your hair a weird color.
- Re-plant a plant so that it is happier.
- Take a ten minute walk and photograph everything _______(round, blue, spiky, gorgeous). Post on Instagram; explain your selections.
What do you think? Make your list and use it to have micro-misadventures throughout the week. Report back!