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Listening, learning and laughing in lockdown....

So, 2020 eh? What a flipping rollercoaster? As I celebrated the New Year in with my daughter and my family I did not think this is what I was toasting to, if i knew I may have had something stronger than champagne! (Ok, it was Prosecco, shhhh)

Let me fast forward to the next important date in 2020, Valentine's day... and there I was in a solicitor's office signing (I know that is not in keeping with tradition for Valentine's but no one would listen!) redundancy contract!! Now don't crack out the tissues just yet, I saw this as a massive opportunity, I had spent 25 incredibly successful and fulfilling years at Vodafone in a variety of amazing roles. I was gambolling towards redundancy with all the hope, energy and optimism of a spring lamb! (Yes, I am aware what happens to spring lambs!!) Now felt the perfect time to set up my own business, explore possibilities, and with one swift squiggle of the pen my new life was arranged to start on 31st March. It was around this time that China was struggling with some virus and hand sanitiser started appearing on desks in the office. But hey, what was a little cold going to do to blight my new adventure?

March 23rd 2020 sh*t got REAL. I don't need to tell you, but 'covid', 'unprecedented', 'zoom', 'furlough', 'house party', and loads of other words including "you are on mute!" became every day language. The world locked down, and my adventure began to lose a little of it's colour and sparkle, again, no sympathy needed, others were losing their lives and livelihoods, this is no pity party, I am a lucky girl. I still felt optimistic but a new feeling was sneaking around the edges, catching me off guard, particularly at night and it was dulling my shine ... and that new feeling was fear. It was splashed with a little dash of panic too and that swirly feeling in my tummy, with a tightness in my chest that maybe, I had made an awfully, big, mistake.

My plan had been to take a month or two off (first real rest in 25 years), finish my 2nd year Psychotherapy studies, and then throw myself into some corporate consultancy work, my experience in Retail, Customer Experience, Communications, Learning & Development and my passion for Leadership Development would surely throw up some amazing work with some fantastic companies. This would pay well and afford me the extra time to pursue my heart and to coach people, one on one, help them achieve results, career progression, have clear plans and release them from all the stuff holding them back.

But the world locked down, the corporates were thrown into turmoil, budgets were slashed, and my connections fell silent....

In other news, the sun shone, my daughter came home from uni and we bought a paddling pool, and sipped gin in it at 3pm ... because we could. We laughed every single day, we walked, attempted Joe Wicks' workout (didn't get past week 1!), embraced Tiger King, Tik Tok and cooked and baked up a storm.

We had family and friend FaceTimes, quizzes, toilet roll shortages, queues, garden visits, and we learned who are the most important people in our world. Those working on the front lines of health, care, retail, delivery drivers, often those paid less, are the ones who kept us safe, well, fed, clothed and supported during this time. We learned that a hug is worth more than anything, office craic is priceless, and that work could be done from home, in your pjs just as effectively as in an office in a suit!

I needed a new plan, as well as new loungewear, so I decided to learn, to explore, I did webinar upon webinar, consumed LinkedIn Learning and Masterclass, joined Facebook groups, 5 Day Challenges, I lived on Linked In, I watched and I connected and I reconnected with people. And I LISTENED. I listened to everything and everyone, what they were doing, how they were coping, what they needed, how they were making money, what they were thinking, how they were feeling..... and then, I listened to my heart.

Sounds cheesy, maybe so, bear with me. I had been asked to host a workshop B.C. (Before Covid) and this became a webinar in lockdown. As I worked on this familiar topic to me, in order to inspire others to realise their Purpose, understand their Values, embrace their Superpowers and tell their Story. I realised that in my fear and panic I had lost my purpose, that of helping people to be the best that they can be. When I reflected on all the listening I had been doing, it occurred to me that really following my heart and coaching and supporting individuals, leaders and teams should not be the hobby, the side line, it should be the main event!! So many people were struggling with insecurity, uncertainty, lack of clarity and direction, an inability to express what they want. They were crying out for confidence, clarity, courage and to feel effective and empowered. Being able to do that for people, is my superpower. So Empowerfulpeople became about coaching first and foremost, and my business started to take off. Best of all, it could all be done safely, remotely, online, and perfectly compliant with Covid restrictions!

As clients started to arrive at my door (metaphorically of course, Covid!!) I was blown away by them, amazing, successful, talented, smart and brilliant individuals, who were also shattered, subdued, overwhelmed or just confused. Inspired by their stories, their challenges, their potential, I turned again to learning. Pouring over the books that I used in my coaching training, buying new books, reading articles, watching videos, joining webinars, following people on social media. My thirst for knowledge to up skill, grow my capability and ensure powerful change, results and support has been inspired by every single one of my clients and the new world we find ourselves in. It has also brought new joy and satisfaction to my life.

The fear, it is still there, the panic still grips me some evenings, but the shine and the sparkle is back, and the swirly feeling in my tummy, could be excitement.

So, in summary, what has 2020 taught me?

  • Sometimes, life doesn't go according to plan... and sometimes that is for the best.

  • Listen, lots, to a wide variety of people, and use a wide variety of sources, including your heart!

  • Learn, frequently and purposefully. Many companies are focussed on upskilling now, this pandemic has thrown up a whole range of new skills that are needed. To learn though, there needs to be a great reason and a positive outcome, I have that, every day, find yours.

  • Laugh, always. Find the people who make you laugh, find the things that raise a smile, do anything possible to spend time with, or doing the stuff that makes you laugh. I am lucky to have many people around me who everyday make me laugh, but I also think I can raise a titter or two too ;o)

So, back to you... I'm listening... how has your 2020 panned out? What have you learned, laughed at, loved? What do you want to change? What has inspired you or incensed you? What is going to be different in 2021? I hope something in this resonates for you, and if you need any help with it you know where I am. In 2021 I am going to experiment with a few different things to - helping some small businesses to be brilliant as well as individuals.. well, that's the plan ;o)

Many thanks to the gorgeous lady who makes me laugh every time I talk to her, who encouraged (bullied) me into writing this, and to YOU for reading it all xx

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