In Times Like This…

Well now… is anyone else having a tough week? Raise your hand if this past week or two have been unlike anything you have ever been through before. (Please know that I have both my hands raised right now.) Scary times, indeed.

We are in the midst of a health crisis that, while we have seen it coming for weeks, is moving so fast and changing our professional landscapes so quickly that it is hard to make any decisions that are more than a day out. Every day feels different, and our decision trees are constantly changing. If you are a planner like me (I love my spread sheets; my long-range planning documents; my 3, 6 and 9 month “to do” lists), then this is a period of particular discomfort. “Long-term planning” for our business right now has been reduced to a week at a time.

And then on the personal side of life, the decision tree is pretty straight forward. Stay home, unless you really have no choice. Wash your hands 15-20 times per day. Simplify everything, as much as possible. And wait…

Crazy times indeed. I am 50 years old, 51 next week, and I have never lived through anything exactly like this. I remember a bit about the 1970s (long gas lines, with even vs odd license plate fill-up days). I clearly remember 9/11, like a rolling film in my head. I clearly remember the 2008 global financial crisis, which hit right after I hired my first colleague and invested in our first office. I remember tough times. But while I am certainly suffering from some recency bias, this crisis feels very different.

So what do we do? We all will have our own answers to that question, depending on our circumstances. For me, the answer comes down to a few things:

  1. Rely on the network of people in your life. We (hopefully) have nurtured the relationships in our lives, and in times of great unknown and great fear, the relationships matter more than ever. Now is the time to cash in on the investments you have made in the relationships around you.
  2.  Try, as much as possible, to focus on the things that are “controllable.” And try, as much as possible, to push aside the things that are not. Easier said than done, and I have had my share of “moments” this week, when the uncontrollable was creating overwhelming feelings inside me. But any rational analysis comes back to the same point… keep your head about you, so you can keep making good decisions.
  3. Remain “situationally aware.” Remember that everyone is feeling it right now. And there is a high likelihood that some people in your life have much bigger challenges than you do. So, as tough as things are for you right now, keep reminding yourself that everyone is struggling right now. You are not the only one. That doesn’t mean your issues are not real. But it does mean that when speaking with a friend, they have their own stuff that is almost certainly just as big as your stuff. If we all bring that empathy into our conversations, then we all have a better chance of being of service to each other. Which will help you maintain those relationships in your life that are so critical right now. (See point #1.)

Keep your head about you. No one makes good decisions from a place of fear or high emotion. 

Better days are ahead, my friends. Better days are ahead.

Does your team:
– Take too long to make decision?
– Fail to ask for what it wants or needs from you?
– Make things too complicated?
– Deliver unconvincing or disorganized presentations?
– Have new hires who are unprepared to communicate in the workplace?

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Dean Brenner

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.