In the days of stay at home orders and homebound workspaces, it can be really easy to focus on what we’re losing. I get it. When everything feels uncertain, and all of the things you used to think were solid are now wobbly, it’s hard not to focus on what you’re losing.
Let me begin with this… You are not alone. Across the globe, we’re all being impacted by these changes every day. What that impact looks like is different for each of us, but no one has been left untouched. We’re all losing something right now, every one of us, and sinking into that loss can feel weirdly comfortable. It’s like quicksand.
But here’s the thing to remember – you will never get this time back.
Whatever you’ve been grieving over the last few days, grieve it. Take some time to look around and be angry, frustrated, resentful, unsure, sad. Whatever is bringing you fear, name it. Own those feelings however you need to, but don’t let yourself sink down into them. Within whatever challenge you’re facing right now, there’s an opportunity that you will never get back.
The hours and days and weeks ahead of you will come, and then they will go. What you do with those hours and days and weeks is up to you.
Let me say it again. You will never get this time back.
Shifting work from my office to home, I’ve also added the titles of teacher and principal to my resume. Through this, I’ve had to get my head in the right place. More than ever, this is my time to step up. It’s my time to lead stronger at work, to dig in deeper with my kids, to love my spouse more, and show up for my friends.
I’m just like you, though. I’ve been scared and restless and up at night. I’ve had to wrestle with my anxiety and fears and put them on the shelf. I’ve had to take some frustration and resentment and set that aside too. That’s not to say I didn’t spend some time soaking in these feelings. I did, but when I got pulled in, I dug down to the root of where those feelings were coming from. For me, they were rooted in a lack of control, a lack of certainty, and a lack of security. Once I figured that out and killed the root, I was able to fill that space with optimism, positivity, and confidence.
I took back what was being robbed from me—robbed, as in past tense. No more. I’m done with those “lack” feelings, and I’ve set them aside.
I took back this time, and I’m going to make it valuable.
Now, I’m focused on three things – my family, my friends, and my business.
Being home with my fourteen-year-old twins right now is a massive gift. I didn’t see it that way at first. I was overwhelmed by working from home AND having to step in and make sure their schoolwork is getting done. It felt like a burden. What I am experiencing instead, though, is this immense opportunity to connect with my kids. We start our days off with a morning team check-in. I’m able to share lunch with them. The three of us social distance on brain-break bike rides and walks, and they come to ask me questions throughout the day. I can hear them giggling and laughing upstairs while I work. In four years, these two kids will leave our home to head off to start their lives. Having them here right now is filling my cup, and I am so grateful.
Cristina and I are taking long evening walks. We’re sharing our thoughts on what we’re going through, the day’s wins, and our fears. Where we used to be pulled by school activities and carpooling, we’re home and the time is ours again. Where the busy-ness of life used to rule our lives, we’re experiencing some downtime. We’re taking this time back, and using it to reconnect in our marriage. I’ll never get this time back… so I’m taking full advantage of it.
This time has also helped me see the value in connecting with friends. Technology has allowed me to share 6:00 am coffee with a group of guys that I love dearly, and 4:00 pm virtual happy hours with other men that I value. I’ve spent time chatting with people from all over the country where we’ve had months and years pass by since we last connected. Friday mornings start by Skyping one of my best friends – a mentor and an accountability partner. More and more, as my daily interactions with people have stopped, I’ve felt the draw to connect with the ones that matter most. For some, I’m staying connected. For others, we are reconnecting. It feels awesome. I’ll never get this time back… so I’m taking full advantage of it.
Having everything change so abruptly has also put my focus back on my business. Where I talked about anxiety, fears, resentment, and anger above, most of those feelings were pointed back to my work. If you know a small business owner today, or a nonprofit leader, then you know they are under massive stress right now. They’re having to pivot and disrupt things in their organizations, adjusting daily to the changes we’re all facing. I’m no different. What I’ve found during this time, though, is that the world is full of opportunities. Nothing is the same, which is challenging. And at the same time, nothing is the same, which means being innovative and embracing this with open eyes is so exciting. I’ll never get this time back… so I’m taking full advantage of it.
Your world may look very different than mine right now, or it may be very similar. No matter where you find yourself today, remember this. You will never get this time back. Take bold steps, do that thing you’ve been putting off, invest in your family and friends. Do not let this time slip past – you’ll regret it later. Instead, live life today in a way that you’ll be able to look back on with pride.
None of us are alone right now – our challenges are different but very similar. That’s why navigating this all alone cannot be an option! Join me here, and we’ll walk through this together, stronger on the other side. – John