It was the day before Christmas and Nora was not in a festive mood. In fact, Nora had been in a bad mood for over a month.
The strain of working from home with two small children and an unemployed partner had pushed her to the brink a few times. She was exhausted. The parts of Christmas she loved had been cancelled – no carols, no visiting friends or family, no parties. All the hard work she’d invested in her consultancy business since March had barely managed to keep it afloat. Right now, Nora doubted whether she has the stamina to keep it going much longer.
A wave of anxiety washed over her as she stared at the blank screen. Nora shut her laptop and hurried out of the room. She could easily explain why her motivation was gone, she assured herself, zipping up her jacket.
“How can I plan for next year in a world getting more unpredictable by the day?”
Dusk was falling as Nora headed for the nearby park. A walk there normally calmed her worries. But today her mind raced faster then she could walk, so after 20 minutes of being pursued by her worst fears, she turned for home.
The Christmas tree caught her attention as she rushed past the local square. The lights were turned on now and their warm glow had a strangely calming effect on Nora. She walked over to the bench opposite the Christmas tree and sat down. For the first time in weeks, the endless chatter in her head stopped.
“You do have a choice, you know. Instead of filling your mind with stories about the past and the future that make you agitated and despairing, you just have to be in the moment. Live the story unfolding now!”
Nora wasn’t aware of anybody sitting beside her until she heard the voice.
She turned to look at the woman, who continued to stare straight ahead. Nora followed the woman’s eyes until both of them were sitting side by side, looking into the lights.
“How can I live a story that is all about losing everything I’ve worked for”, Nora asked, watching the small beams of light illuminate the green branches,
To break the silence between them, Nora explained just how hard she’d worked, for years now, and how this on-going uncertainty had exhausted her and crippled her ability to think and act.
The Christmas lights shone brighter into the deepening darkness. The woman’s voice seemed to come from the glow of the lights in front of Nora.
“All you have to do is this. Just show up for yourself every day, do today’s work – without planning for tomorrow, without an agenda for next year, without trying to fix what’s not yours to fix. That’s the story to live now. Can you do that?”
Nora wanted to tell that woman how wrong she was; how she didn’t know what it was like to struggle every day; how planning ahead was what helped her cope.
She didn’t say anything.
Nora knew she’d tried everything since March, only to see her efforts come to nothing, like sandcastles washed away on a beach at high tide.
“I don’t know if I can really do that. I feel so lost,” she mumbled eventually.
She stared into the yellow lights looking for an answer to the question that filled her head – how do I get through this uncertainty?
“You just show up, like I said, and live the uncertainty of today, instead of trying to control it, or run from it, or deny it. That’s how you create the new story that is unfolding right now,” came the soft reply.
Nora looked around her.
“Who are you?” she asked when she saw that the bench beside her was empty.
“I’m the spirit of Christmas” came the reply. “I’m always around at Christmas, even during a pandemic.”
Nora slowly got up from the bench.
“Happy Christmas to you” she whispered into the darkness.
Turning for home she was certain she could hear bells ringing in the distance.Learn More
If you’re still struggling to create a post-Corona business model, don’t worry. Change is coming. Lots of it and it’s heading our way!
Change is the new normal!
The Corona crisis has marked a major turning point. As the weeks and months pass, we’ve come to realise that the changes it introduced are not temporary. What’s actually happened is that Covid has destroyed existing templates for the ways we live, think & work.
For example, in our pre-pandemic world, employers dismissed working-from-home arrangements as unworkable and untenable. These arrangements are now fully operational and here to stay! Wearing masks in public and speaking through glass partitions are also part of our daily ‘normal’. Some jobs that were ‘lost’ due to the pandemic are gone for good and more are about to disappear – forever.
And that’s only the beginning! We’re getting mere glimpses of the magnitude of the changes that are shaping our future. Changes that will see robotics and AI as part & parcel of our daily life.
How do we prepare for the changes ahead?
It’s no longer about managing the disruptions, it’s about preparing for the beginning of a new era – without a roadmap. We have to be willing to re-imagine our lives in an emerging world. And one of the best places to start is to ask yourself a simple question.
What can I bring to the table that is uniquely ME?
If we’ve learned one lesson from this crisis it’s this. Our ability to survive and succeed is dependant on our willingness to connect with others. The days of the solo super-hero, braving a hostile world alone are over.
What’s needed now is knowing how to express our individuality AND connect with others.
One way to do just that is in the way you communicate with the world.- your ability to listen deeply to what’s being said around you, the words you choose, the stories you choose, the ways you tell those stories. That’s how your response to this changing world is shaping the outcome.
Developing your storytelling skills is a good place to begin exercising your unique perspective on a changing world and creating connection with others.
If you want to know how to begin, I can help you get those storytelling wheels moving.Learn More
In a recent post I asked what kind of heroes were appropriate for the new normal unfolding in the world. It’s clear they will be vastly different from the old ones. And the same goes for our stories!
The coronavirus is not the first pandemic in history – and it won’t be our last! We have a rich library about life during and after plagues, spanning over the last thousand years, whether it’s about the Plague of Justinian in the 6th century, the Black Death in the 14th or the Great Plague of London in the 17th century (to name just three).
There are two things we can learn about storytelling from that history
- During a pandemic we tell stories to entertain, distract and fact-check. These popular narratives include: conspiracy theories, bawdy tales, what-if setups, high drama scenarios & futuristic escape. Does this sound familiar?
- Once the pandemic dust finally settles, there is no going back to pre-pandemic ‘normal’. Our existing stories, the ones that made sense of our old normal, are irretrievably broken. A corner stone of modern physics was developed by Sir Isaac Newton – theory of gravity – while cocooning at home in 1665 from the Great Plague of London.
The biggest challenge we face is this: our story has no closure. We see the challenges, but no resolutions.
History tells us we’ve been here many times before and we have two choices:
- We try to retell the old narratives to cover the gaping cracks created by the crisis. But these fragments quickly collapse into the cavernous holes left in its wake.
- Or we stare into the uncertainty and the unknown and after a time realise we are different now – wiser, more compassionate & more resilient. We begin to tell stories about the experiences and the insights that got to this point and how these can help us set our compass for a way out.
We tell about the lack of solid ground, the absence of a pathway ahead, the challenges of sitting with uncertainty, the faint outline of new possibilities emerging, the flicker of hope in the darkness.
Then, one small story at a time, we slowly begin to create a new normal.Learn More