Being flexible helps you and your community

It’s times like this that bring out the best – and worst – in people. I’m appalled by the behavior I’ve seen in grocery stores. I’m uplifted by stories of businesses donating creativity, time, and resources to lend a hand to their fellow man.

There seem to be two entrenched online communications camps right now. There are those who believe everyone should be putting 24/7 focus on the pandemic. These folks are encouraging others to blast those who dare post a message about their business. In the opposing corner are those advocating marketing hard to a captive audience. For them, profiteering is the name of the game. Just shift your business positioning to pain points and, viola.

Neither stance serves you, or your community, very well. How about instead, adopting a flexible attitude that considers new information, others’ perspectives, conversation, personal circumstances, and preserving sanity?

As business owners, we face a difficult reality. We don’t have the kind of control over our business we imagined when deciding to strike out on our own. In an unprecedented situation, we’re responding to government orders and civic responsibility that’s closing doors.

My heart goes out to the small business owners of restaurants, hotels, entertainment venues, and other sites catering to the public. They may not be able to recover from this pandemic. Some are getting creative and inventive about how they’re handling the blows. They’re focusing on what can be controlled rather than dwelling on what can’t.

All of us can plan moments in our day that enrich us socially, spiritually, physically, creatively and emotionally.

Eleven tips for staying sane and productive

  1.  Stop consuming the news. It’s depressing, redundant and a bad, constant diet of stress. You do know stress makes you more vulnerable to illness, right? Sure, check in for 5 minutes if you must, but stop obsessing over grim reports you can’t alter.
  2. Focus on what you can control, like your local community. Even with the unknowns and misinformation, it seems clear now that direct contact will spread the virus beyond our healthcare system capacity. Be neighborly in what you consider urgent public activities and open to ways you might lend a hand to others in need.
  3. Ask for help. Some businesses are going to fail. Many might not with kindness from others. Roanoke’s charitable community might amaze you when you simply request assistance. It’s hard to ask for help, I know, but sometimes admitting your vulnerability will bring angels to your aid you never imagined.
  4. Immerse yourself in a hobby. Whether it’s revisiting an instrument, learning how to paint, spending time in the garden, taking an online class, or experimenting with a new tool, focusing time and energy on something that’s absorbing and creative is good for the soul.
  5. Consider the future. You may not be able to do much with your business today, but you can reflect on, research, and start identifying resources for tomorrow. The time you put in now toward planning while you have time to thoughtfully strategize will help you survive and thrive.
  6. Take care of yourself. Sleep, hydration, healthy eating, and exercise are all important in combating this thing. You can’t be there for others if you neglect yourself.
  7. Add a creative element to your daily habits. Just the act of being more thoughtful about activities you’ve considered rote in the past can make more intriguing and rich moments.
  8. Realize it’s not all about you. Physical social distancing is about reducing world-wide exposure. Whether you consider yourself at risk or not, that’s not the point. It’s about consideration for others. Help an elderly resident, thank someone who’s putting themselves at risk, or run an errand for someone sequestered nearby. They’ll feel better and you will too.

    Small business owners need to move beyond fear to make it through this.
    It boggles the mind how some people think. Hoarding comes from fear. Small business owners need to think bigger. Getting your mind settled is a good place to start.
  9. When possible, think local. Many businesses are offering delivery or curb-side pickup. The smaller businesses are going to have the hardest time recovering. What you do today to help your local economy will affect your neighbor and impact the selection of goods and services available to you later.
  10. Connect. Even with gatherings cancelled and buildings closed for the foreseeable future, you can still reach out to friends, family and colleagues. You know that phone you feel panicked without because you might miss a Facebook ping? Now’s a good time to use it for its original intent – to talk to people. Keeping in touch and feeling cared about is more important than ever.
  11. Keep your chin up.

How are you coping?

I’ve found myself doing things I probably wouldn’t ordinarily have time for.

This includes participating in the Sketchbook Revival online workshop. It’s free, fun and a great group of supportive people from around the world.

As part of my Morrie comic initiative (more on that latter), I’ve decided to learn Gimp. Tired of paying for Photoshop? I found this great, affordable Udemy course that walks you through the various features of this open-source resource.

In addition, I’ve resumed tending to my neglected vegetable garden, scheduled daily hour-long walks with a friend, am diving into strategic planning, catching up on client projects & my stuff, and playing with watercolors. I’m also reaching out to others who may be vulnerable. Of course, there’s some binging alter-realities too. Watching Netflix and reading Through the Looking Glass (Alice in Wonderland sequel – childlike suits me) are on the docket for this week.

What I’m not doing is watching the news, hording, getting rude with overwhelmed workers, and participating in group activities. I’m also trying to stay more focused in the moment. Relative to this site, I’m going to resume weekly blog post, but am planning to focus on topics designed to make you smile for the foreseeable future.

How about you? Have you found some normalcy in these trying times? Has the disruption allowed you to tick things off your to do or bucket list? Are you getting creative with solutions? Please do share in the comments below. I’d love to hear about your perspectives and solutions or hear if there’s a way I can jump in to help you get through these trying times with less angst.

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