Should I stay or should I go?
On March 2nd I was due to deliver the final part of a programme with a team in Riyadh. A few days before I was due to go the team leader contacted me and asked me to check whether my visa was still valid as the government of Saudi Arabia had cancelled certain visas. On contacting the Saudi Embassy, I found out that it was only people from highly infected areas that were not being allowed in and the UK was not included in the list. So, I could go but did I really want to go? Did I want to risk getting stuck there? Did I want to risk raising my chances of getting the virus and not being able to work? After a fair bit of reflection, I bought my N95 mask (it cost me £70 as I needed it delivered within 2 days) and decided to go. I wore my mask for the whole flight although very few others did.
On arriving at Riyadh airport there were doctors in full PPE with thermometers at the ready, all the airport staff were wearing masks and checked every page of my passport. They stopped me and asked about my visa for Cambodia. I pointed out that I went there a year ago and after an agonising few moments they let me in. The team and I had a fantastic two days together and I made my flight home! What a relief.
The week after on 11th March I went into Manchester on the train for a full day of coaching. The train was jam packed like a London tube and it was impossible to stay away from people. On the train back there was a man coughing in my carriage. The carriage was quite empty, so I was able to move. I made my decision in that moment to change my future coaching to online using Zoom. I contacted all the clients I had booked in for face to face coaching (some were already online) and asked whether they would change to Zoom. All but two agreed.
During the last 40 working days I have travelled all over the world from my desk – I have travelled all around the UK, across the Atlantic to Boston, New York, Washington, Philadelphia and Houston in the USA, down to Sao Paolo, Brazil, and back to Munich, Paris and Stockholm in Europe. I have coached 41 individuals and two groups online with no need to wear a mask, adhere to social distancing or fear getting stuck somewhere. We achieved the same level of trust and intimacy and the coaching outcomes were just as good. More than that I got a glimpse into people’s home life via the Zoom camera which gave me a deeper understanding of their situation.
A partner in a professional services organisation in New York was feeling guilty about taking an hour during the working day to do something with his kids. He plucked up the courage to put that in his calendar and make it a part of how we managed his work and private life during the crisis. Another senior leader living in a large open space loft apartment in Philadelphia was struggling to find a quiet space for him and his wife to work with his children at home. In fact, I have met several of my clients’ children during this world tour which has been wonderful. Again, the need to find a different rhythm and balance between work and home in order to school children or look after them during the day.
At the start of the crisis people were in shock and I was able to help them accept the situation and work out how to turn it into an opportunity. As time moved on and all of the emergency actions had been taken people started to find it difficult to manage and motivate themselves so I helped them to create a vision for what they wanted out of this period and a structure for their day. We talked about they could keep themselves motivated – amazing how different people are. For some it was social connection that they needed, for others it was setting themselves clear goals and rewarding themselves for achieving them, for others it was a feeling of making a difference.
During this metaphorical journey around the world I have been on my own private journey as have all the clients that I have connected with. My motivators are Searcher – making a difference. Which is why right at the start of the lockdown I offered my online leadership course and four webinars to anyone free of charge. I also offered free 30-minute Zoom in sessions for people to check in with themselves and determine how they want to turn this crisis into an opportunity. At first, I got very few responses, but I am noticing a greater readiness for this now and I have a few of these Zoom ins planned for the coming week.
How is your COVID 19 journey going? Are you managing to stay motivated and to keep your family/team motivated? Are you in a place where you can spot the opportunities in this crisis? If you would like to spend 30 minutes with me Zooming in on your situation just contact me on The leadership course is also still available as are the webinars, you can find them on my website here