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Survival and Thrival: No One is ‘Winning’ the Pandemic — and That’s Okay Right Now

April 28, 2020 by Kurt Wilkin

I’m not going to sugarcoat anything—this is hard work. As I wrote last week, we’re all sort of settling in to this “new normal,” but that doesn’t mean there aren’t setbacks. Even before the pandemic, we all hit walls from time to time, and these walls seem to hit harder!

Lately, the wall seems to hit me Thursday night. I’m pushing and pushing all week, keeping the “LET’S GO!” mindset strong, the last of my four weekly CEO Forums happens Thursday evening…and then everything hits me like a ton of bricks. I just need some time to recharge after blowing and going all week. Like many of you, I TRY to take the weekend off, but that’s hard to do these days.

The CEO Forums I’ve been leading since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic have been an incredible outlet, both personally and professionally. Each week I’ve learned a lot from my colleagues, mentors, and friends about how to deal. In the past few weeks, we’ve made huge strides towards “survival and thrival” by making the shutdown an opportunity for growth, leaning into the unexpected, and doing the right thing amid all the chaos.


Doing “okay” is the new “awesome”
Last week, my business partner said, “It’s like we’re trying to sprint a marathon. We need to slow down and take care of ourselves.” This week feels like the right time to discuss this stress and the fact that the struggle really is real.

For our CEO Forums this week, we invited journalist-turned-entrepreneur Rod Kurtz to visit with us. He pointed out that it’s important to remember, no one is “winning” the pandemic. If you haven’t learned how to bake sourdough bread, built a backyard playscape, or knitted a quilt out of your old college t-shirts…don’t worry. You’re not alone. Everyone is struggling with this in some form or fashion. Rod even said, “Doing ‘okay’ is the new ‘awesome’.” I love that!

The CEO Forums illustrated for me that we all have our moments. Everyone struggles from time to time. The discussions weren’t as lively this week, and that’s in spite of the fact that most of the participants received their PPP funding and that things are looking up. I think it’s because we’ve been uber intense for so long and so focused on the PPP process and funding, that when it finally came through, we just slumped on the couch. One participant even said, “I need a shot of adrenaline!“ And, perhaps coincidentally, several said their wine consumption is up!  My general sense is that we’re at an inflection point; I’m excited to see what the next few weeks have in store.

If this were a normal April, we’d be excited about Spring and all the hope, beauty and sunshine it brings. We probably wouldn’t be talking about the need for a worldwide break from the stress of being a CEO. Without learning how to manage my own stress, I would have given up YEARS ago. Self-care and stress management are vitally important, but they’re all too easy to neglect even under normal circumstances. And in case you haven’t noticed, this ain’t a normal April!

Sheltering in place, working from home, and even the endless stream of Zoom video chats are added stress-inducers to an already crowded menu. I encourage you to take some time for yourself. Do something that makes you happy—practice yoga, plant a garden, start a movie marathon. No phone, no email, no Zoom. Just you and your happy place.

When you get back, check out this free guide to managing stress from Mark Moses, my friend from CEO Coaching International, and try to implement some of his recommendations. Or for a bit more woo-woo, check out these 6 tips from holistic consultant Elena Bensonoff. As entrepreneurs, we’re always “on” and putting a ton of pressure on our shoulders. But we owe it to ourselves, our families, and our teams to try to take care of ourselves!

I’m curious about what you’re doing to cope. What are you doing for self-care? I try to take a walk in the woods as often as I can and my family has been getting together most evenings to do something together. This is in addition to our failed attempts at family tennis!  I love hearing from you about how you’re surviving and thriving through the shutdown. The CEO Forums, these articles, and my new LinkedIn video series are meant to help others by providing an outlet for useful information, war stories, and just plain venting. Please send me any ideas for future sessions—my inbox is always open.

This Wednesday, April 29 at 10:30 a.m. Central I will be live on LinkedIn for a Survival and Thrival Q&A session. Please join me and bring your questions, thoughts, and stories!

Our goal at HireBetter is to help you navigate the unknown and assist in any way we can, especially when it comes to questions about your team and the health of your business. We’re constantly updating our curated list of business resources for COVID-19 and are still offering free business continuity consultations. We will continue to host CEO Forums and keep you updated until they are no longer needed.

Remember that it’s okay to feel stressed out, and it’s okay to take time for yourself. No one is winning the pandemic—just do the best you can.

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