Learning How to Live “Day By Day” in These Crazy Times

 

Courage is not the absence of despair:

it is rather the capacity to move ahead in spite of despair.

– Rollo May

 

 

Crazy days and crazy nights.

It is all so surreal.

I hope you and those you treasure are safe.

 

I write this post keenly aware that the life of each of you has been turned upside-down in ways we could not fully have imagined just a month ago.

So, please know that posting this is my way of saying, I hope you are managing, that you are, indeed, persevering.

 

For most of my professional life I have taught, coached, counseled and trained. People have sought me out because they want, if not answers, then at least direction on how to get answers.

 

As I write this newsletter I have no idea what will happen between today and Memorial Day weekend (the weekend my goddaughter Meredith is to be married).

 

Like you, I’m taking it one day at a time.

BUT – what does it mean to take it one day at a time?!

 

As I’ve talked with friends, colleagues and clients during these past weeks, I’ve been struck by how folks fall into one of two groupings:

  • Those who are afraid and are paralyzed by their fear.
  • Those who are afraid and are energized to move through their fear.

 

What is different about the folks in these two groupings?

The folks who are afraid and determined to move beyond their fear are mindfully challenging themselves to –

Feel.

Adapt.

Connect.

Expand.

 

Feel. There is now a proliferation of articles, podcasts and talks focused on how to navigate life in the midst of a pandemic.

 

I have the sense, though, that for many of these well-intentioned advice pieces, the advice comes down to: don’t be afraid – we’re in this together – we’ll make it.

 

My response is, Yes. True. I agree. I hope. AND. . .

 

I think we should allow ourselves to feel afraid. We have good reason to feel afraid!

 

I also think that many of us are feeling not simply afraid. I think just as strongly we are feeling a tremendous sense of loss. We are feeling grief.

 

Each of us, as citizens of planet Earth, has lost and may continue to lose something, someone we love and enjoy and delight in.

 

Let’s not rush past what we are feeling. Let’s feel what we feel. Let’s name what we are feeling. AND let’s not allow the complexity of what we’re feeling to paralyze us.

I’m afraid.

I’m grieving.

Now what?

 

Each of us needs to answer that “now what?” question. Yeah – that’s the “business of confidence.”

 

Adapt. A friend of mine is an instructor at Loyola-Marymount U. Jerry happens to be 89-years- old. When his seminar course had to move online because the university was shutting down in-classroom instruction, he was not happy. He was apprehensive.

 

AND he was determined to “make it work.”

 

He embraced Zoom (best thing since sliced bread, yes?!) He rallied his students. He rallied those of us who are scheduled to guest speak through the rest of the semester. He accepted the invitation the madness of these days offered him – the invitation to adapt.

 

Jerry is a man who has reinvented himself half a dozen times in his life. At 89 he is again reinventing and adapting.

 

In the midst of uncertainty, Jerry is energized by his anger, his grief, and his fear. You will never hear him say, “I don’t know how and so I can’t and so I never will.”

 

Connect. These days invite us to do more than feel and adapt. They invite us to connect in new and unexpected ways.

 

Last week I spoke with a colleague who shared that the unexpected gift of quarantine is that he gets to spend more time with his girlfriend – they recently moved into a new home. With excitement and a touch of wonder, he said, “It’s been such an unexpected gift to have the time for us to get to know each other in a deeper way.”

 

Wow! I was moved by the spontaneous surprise he felt.

 

Two weeks ago I was hired by a new client, Justin, who is wanting to hone his presentational skills.

He found me on LinkedIn. Random. Unexpected.

I thought he’d want to wait until after the quarantine to start our coaching. He didn’t. We’ve met several times on Zoom J and an easy, collegial rapport has developed.

 

Connection in the midst of separation.

 

Each day ask yourself, “Who can I reach out to and surprise today?”

 

For those of you who’ve done training with me, you know one of my fav books is Keith Ferrazzi’s “Never Eat Alone.” Well, many of us have no choice but to eat alone!

 

Each of us, all of us, has the choice to not be alone in the midst of uncertainty and its roller-coaster of emotions.

 

Expand. Among other things, I’m using this time to take the time to catch-up on reading, turning to that pile of “someday books.” I’m revisiting old genres. Exploring new. Putting aside my Kindle and feeling the hefty warmth of a real printed book again. I forgot how much I enjoy reading just for the sake of reading.

 

I recently had a conversation with a client who was considering a career change prior to the outbreak. We were playing around with ideas and options and at one point Rose said, “I hadn’t thought of that!”

 

Now is the time to find ways to generate those “I hadn’t thought of that” experiences.

 

Here’s the thing –

We want life to return to “normal.” Like you, I don’t know what life will return to. I don’t think, though, it will return to “normal” as we used to know “normal.”

 

To live – really live – in that as yet new normal, we will be asked to dig deep within. Why?

 

Because when this is over there will be many people who will be hurting and afraid because of what they went through. They will be our customers and clients, our colleagues and, perhaps, our bosses. If we’re going to work with them and for them, we’ll have to do so with a renewed awareness of our own strengths and weaknesses. And that renewed awareness will only come about because somehow. . .

 

We will have accepted Fear’s invitation to –

Feel

Grieve

Adapt

Connect

Expand

 

I think this is what it means to take it day by day!

 

One of my literary heroes is the writer and diarist Anais Nin. She mentored me in college and for many, many years I’ve had a saying of hers framed in my office –

Never crystalize.

Remain open to change, renewal, adventure, experiment.

 

I always thought it was a “lovely” sentiment.

It is.

And now it has come to bite me in the butt!

 

Stay smart.

Stay safe.

Stay healthy.

And never lose sight of this certain truth – life is good and worthy of our best.

 

Should you have any pressing questions or even

just need someone to vent to who will listen,

feel free to email me: [email protected]

You’re not alone – we really all are in this together. 

The One Thing Really Confident People Do Really Well!

 

Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be.

But what will happen in all the other days that ever come

can depend on what you do today.

Earnest Hemingway

 

 

Last week before my UCLA class on Interpersonal Communications I met up with Peter (names changed), one of my students, for a consult. As we were talking, a middle-aged woman approached us. She was out of breath as she pointed to Peter’s red water bottle, “Is that yours?” she asked with what I thought was an accusatory twinge.

 

Awkward!

 

Peter gave her a startled, “It’s mine” but to my New York eyes she had that “you’re lying” look in her eyes.

 

Peter stared at her and then did the most remarkable thing – he offered her his water bottle, asking, “Would you like to take it?”

 

“Is it yours?” she asked.

 

“Yes”

“Well, if it’s yours I don’t want it” – she said now with more a whiff of confusion than annoyance.

 

Peter held it out saying, “You can have it – it seems the bottle meant a lot to you.”

 

This unusually kind gesture snapped her back into the moment. She was thrown off balance. As was I!

 

She left (having declined the bottle) and Peter and I went on with our conversation.

 

Peter thought little of the encounter – I, though, was blown away by his composed generosity.

 

Doing something unexpected in a conversation, in a relationship – heck, in your life – takes confidence. And I’ve been thinking about Peter’s particular style of confidence.

 

He was not quick to feel judged because he has such a solid sense of himself. This allowed him to practice an uncommon generosity to a stranger who was emotionally stressed.

 

When I complimented him on his kindness, he shrugged, saying, “it’s just a water bottle. She seemed more invested in it than I am, so why not give it to her?”

 

Wow!

Even as I write this I am in awe of his generosity BECAUSE that generosity is wonderfully grounded in a sense of confidence.

 

Peter adapted to the circumstance of the moment, took the woman and her situation in stride knowing that life is littered with the whack-a-do!

 

SO – the question is – how do you develop that kind of confidence?

 

Peter did play professional sports after college – not all pro athletes, though, are that generous.

 

That kind of confidence is a choice.

 

Peter reminded me that we choose the kind of confidence we want to display in our daily life.

 

Confidence is manifested differently in each of us. For Peter – to be confident is to be generous.

 

You.

Me.

We each have to decide what confidence will look like and sound like in our own life.

 

After writing that last sentence, I stopped and reflected on what confidence looks like for me. I’m not terribly proud of my answer. . .

Because I was bullied growing up, I resolved when I was in college that I would never again allow anyone to verbally intimidate me (and, yes, there’s anger laced in that sentence).

 

I resolved to not be afraid of others who were physically imposing.

 

I decided to not be afraid of people whose lives were so very different from mine.

 

And, yes, because of the confident people who have been so generous to me, somewhere along the way I resolved to ground my confidence in generosity.

 

However, I’ve yet to give away my water bottle!

 

What does it mean to be confidently generous (and not simply “nice” or “kind”)?

 

It means that you’re willing to act in unexpected ways that surprise both the other person and you!

 

It means acting out in specific gestures – offered because you want the other person(s) to experience something good.

 

It means being consistent in surprising others.

 

And to use my favorite Italian word, it means having a sense of sprezzatura, which is what makes confidence SO attractive.

 

Sometimes, while going about The Business of Confidence it’s easy to forget the hidden dimensions to being confident.

 

Peter reminded me that in its essence to be confident is to be generous.

 

Do you want to become more confident?

Consider This:

  • If you were more confident, what would you do MORE of?
  • If you were more confident, what would you do LESS of?
  • What is the “water bottle” you can offer to someone this week? This month?

 

We need you to provide the things that are unexpected, scarce, and valuable. Scarcity and abundance have been flipped. High- quality work is no longer scarce. Competence is no longer scarce, either.

We have too many good choices – there’s an abundance of things to buy and people to hire.

What’s scarce is trust, connection, and surprise.

Seth Godin

 

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being

generous and  influential?

To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at:

  [email protected]

818-415-8115