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In March 2020, the world started falling apart for everyone. We didn’t realize it immediately, but a week of shutdown turned into a month, then into a year and more. Most of us haven’t returned to the “normal” of 2019 and probably never will.

Sometimes you plan to change, and sometimes it’s thrust upon you with no warning.

I find it remarkable how well we’ve survived so far. Sure, we had tremendous inconvenience and quite a few businesses and organizations were forced to shut down. Industries were brought to a halt.

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It’s become quite the thing to identify people as Extraverts or Introverts. And now Ambiverts, and I’ve heard “I’m an Extravert with Introvert tendencies.”

It’s almost as if these terms didn’t really mean much anyway.

Let’s face it, these are tendencies that we learn as we grow up. To some degree they might be innate, but most of it is learned from our families and friends. It’s not like the color of our eyes, which is controlled by genetics.

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Two years ago, I had a wonderful plan for building my coaching business in 2020. For some strange reason, that all got messed up!

I’m blessed that my coaching can instantly switch over to Zoom. In fact, I’ve been using that for all my remote clients for many years now.

No, my marketing strategy got totally derailed. Since my approach is heavily based on building one-on-one relationships, most of my networking instantly disappeared. Some groups fell apart while others stagnated or were forced to redesign.

Since I have a tech background and have lots of experience with Zoom, I got pulled into producing Zoom events for various organizations. It turns out that can pay pretty well, so I ended up getting some significant revenue for that in 2020. Some of it continued into 2021.

Along the way, I discovered something fascinating. It turns out that clients are drawn to my production work because I take a coaching approach to it. I focus on their deeper goals, and help them design an event which truly achieves that. Sure, along the way I need to cajole Zoom into working properly, but many people can do that.

I’ve also been told that my coach-like optimism is a real asset. It helps my clients to approach their event calmly, knowing that somehow the tech magic will happen behind the scenes and all their participants will get a lot out of it.

But the lesson here isn’t really about Zoom, or pivoting my business in response to the pandemic.

It’s about how I’ve learned to bring the coaching mindset to everything I do. Looking back on my life, I see many examples of how that thinking has served me well as facilitator, leader, volunteer, and parent.

As I look to the future, it appears that we all need to strengthen our skills in being flexible and adapting. Key forces might be health care, climate change and industry upheaval – or other new influences we haven’t yet seen. But it doesn’t seem like things will become stable anytime soon.

It turns out that coaches are well suited to navigate this space. We’re all about balancing the power of a vision with the reality of the present. We look for resources and capabilities, building on strengths and synergies.

I have no idea if the future belongs to coaches. What matters is that we help bring the coaching skills and mindset to more people in our society: leaders, collaborators, and problem-solvers.

It doesn’t mean that we coaches know any more about having solutions or what our future will look like. Most of the time we’re probably as lost and confused as anyone else.

What makes the difference is our optimism and confidence that we can, together, build a better future. We believe that problems can be solved. We believe that people are fully capable of achieving ambitious goals. We believe that every person is to be included and respected.

Those beliefs seem to be in short supply sometimes.

That’s why coaches and coaching skills are so vital to the future of our world!


This article was first published in Choice Magazine, Volume 21 number 1.

I was discussing today the importance of having friendly relationships with your neighbors. You know, those folks who live next to you who can make your life miserable.

I’ve discovered a crucial philosophy to create friends rather than enemies: Lead with generosity, friendliness, and flexibility.

But what does this have to do with business? Everything!

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As you call people back to the office, you may have a hard time figuring out how strongly to demand that everyone follows the same rules.

There are so many variables! Nature of job tasks, desire for people to connect face-to-face, costs, sanitizing requirements, and so on.

What it comes down to is this: You want to have enough flexibility so that everyone feels reasonably productive, comfortable and supported.

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Rebuilding your work environment post-pandemic is going to be a big challenge! Sure, you have to work around government regulations and community rules. You’ll put cleaning regimens in place and spacing requirements.

But that’s the easy part. People are always much harder.

The problem is that each person has their own requirements, unique comfort levels, and new work patterns developed over the course of a year.

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You don’t know how strong something is until it’s truly tested.

This last year has been a huge stress-test for every client I’ve worked with. It’s not just because the pandemic has altered the landscape of many industries. It’s also that restrictions have faced us with deep personal and business decisions.

Every week, and even every day.

It’s tempting to just hunker down and wait for this to all blow over. Many did that in the early days, because we were hoping that things would “get back to normal” after just a few weeks. Well, that didn’t happen.

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These times have been unsettling for all of us, and seem to be shaking the very foundation. And it’s going to go on even longer, sad to say.

For me, the key words have been Flexibility and Patience.

Flexibility, because it seems nothing has been going according to plan for weeks now. Patience, because I have to spend a lot of time waiting for others to sort things out. But there’s one more word.

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No doubt you’ve heard the term that’s been in vogue with entrepreneurs for a few years: Pivot your business.

Photo by Jeremy Perkins on Unsplash

As a skeptical outsider, it looks like an excuse for someone getting bored, who can’t commit to the hard work of building and running a company. And there is some truth to that.

But it’s not the whole story.

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In the past weeks, I’ve taken us through the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world. And I’ve introduced another VUCA to help us navigate: Values, Uplift, Commitment, Action.

The problem is that we might think of “times of change” as individual events. Our objective is to survive each change, then get back to “normal.”

Unfortunately, “normal” is now Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. Always uncomfortable.

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