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March 16, 2020 / Blog / Mariposa Articles

The New Normal: We Ain’t Going Back Now

by Sue Bethanis, CEO/Founder of Mariposa, sueb@mariposaleadership.com, @suebethanis

Whoa, last week was the strangest week I have experienced. Ever.

How are you holding up? Perhaps stop for a minute, and check in with yourself: How AM I actually holding up? You probably haven’t had a chance to catch your breath from the horror of last week, and the ongoingness of the weekend. And, well, today, has unfolded with the biggest stock market drop ever, and a Bay Area “Shelter-in-Place” Order.

In the last week, you probably went to the store(s) and stocked up; you probably have your (tiny) workspace set up in your home; your kids are now out of school and you’re getting them set up in their (really tiny) workspaces; and I am hearing from some of you, you’re already starting to feel isolated (and it’s only been a week!)

You are not alone, for sure. The collective “we are all in this together” feeling might help ease some of the anxiety. That’s the good news. The not so good news — what I am also hearing and sensing — is that many work colleagues and clients believe this is a three-week thing; we can tolerate this for three weeks, can’t we? My guess is this is more likely a three-month thing, which would look like: kids out of the school the rest of the semester, which means they go back in September; WFH will be extended as mandatory by most, if not all, businesses or local government until the end of May; and we continue to be plagued with: when is this going to end?

What if it doesn’t end, per se? What if we reframe the situation we are now all facing to create routines that will help us get through this transition period that will also help us on the other side? I think it behooves us to seek opportunity and to prepare for the New Normal.

What is that new stuff? Things you can start now, that you will be doing more of in the New Normal. The transition might be three weeks, but the New Normal is here to stay.

Here are some ideas:

Birdwatch, mostly alone. The Bay Area “Shelter-in-Place” Order, under the special cases questions section, actually encourages people to get outside — take a walk or run, go to a park — to avoid being cooped up which may amplify your anxiety. It’s good for well being, the notes say, with the very important caveat to practice social distancing — stay 6 feet away from others. And, by the way, don’t forget to watch and listen for the birds.

Exercise at home. You have created your workspace already; please add a (tiny) place to exercise, and to get in some resistance work. Have Amazon send you two 15 or 20 pound weights, along with some resistance bands. Even 10-15 minutes a day of resistance will help. Remember, you’re moving a lot less than normal. And creating specific time for exercise is important for burning calories and lowering stress.

Meditate. I have talked about the importance of meditation in my last two posts here and here. Being mindful of your anxiety and stress level is key to getting through this transition period and in the New Normal.

Set boundaries. For those of us who have been doing WFH for years, the single most important practice is setting boundaries — for when you work and when you don’t, and for how much you and your other family members are on technology. I suggest setting guidelines or rules together and sticking to them as a family.

Socialize. Isolation is already setting in. Consider scheduling a video conference or FT call with a different friend every day (i.e., it’s Tuesday, so I get to chat with my friend Elizabeth today). Start a group video conference chat with several buddies. I am starting a Zoom poker and Scotch group with my friends. Who’s in?

To download a PDF of this article, click here.

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March 12, 2020 / Blog / Stress / Work-Life Integration

Swimming in This Sea of Uncertainty…

by Therese Tong, Executive Coach, therese@mariposaleadership.com

I injured my foot a couple of weeks ago so no running probably for the next 6 – 8 weeks. For those who know me well, you know how that puts me in “just” a little bit of a funk. I am feeling restless and then I’m picking a fight for no rhyme or reason with my hubby…but of course, right? Given the much lower dose of endorphins and we are all swimming in this sea of uncertainty… “I don’t want it…I don’t like it…”

Three things have helped me:

  • Loving Kindness Meditation
  • Self-Care & Support  
  • Assessment & Moods

Loving Kindness Meditation

With the growing murmur of uncertainty somewhat getting louder, I realize I need to return to gratitude for what is and to start remembering that I need a little bit more kindness [for me]…plus to sit with breath in and breath out seems impossible — my mind is bouncing off the wall! Is it only me? At times like this, I take a few breaths, a couple more and settle into my body; repeating:

“May I be safe and free from danger…may I be healthy in body, mind, spirit…may I be at peace…”

Find out more and to continue the practice expanding from “I” to “we” to “all beings” as you feel ready.

Self-Care and Support    

For our immune system to be healthy, all the usual sleep, movement, sunshine, diet are required and with COVID-19 declared a pandemic — we need nourishing conversation, relationships and support. We don’t get to go this alone — I/you/we care about others and he/she/they care about us, too! So, even with “social distancing”; reach out to a trusted friend, colleague…and be kind to you, your partner, kids, neighbor…take time to pet your dog — it will all help.

Assessment & Mood

This is a framework I share with clients and this time, it has helped me to acknowledge that even though typically I have a mood of gratitude, laugh easily and wholeheartedly and am upbeat; at this time, this is not the mood I have and my emotions seem to be on a roller-coaster all of her own doing – easily irritated by the slightest inconvenience, feeling both angry and sad that in the US – a developed country, we are ill-prepared and the most vulnerable are usually hit hardest.

In naming the space I am in, am now more aware — I can step back, not be caught in it, see and reassess/reframe the story and therefore what is possible and choose again. In this case, I decided to write this up, gave my hubby a hug, apologized and have reached out to my peeps for a walk and coffee.

There is much more agency in having some awareness, seeing more clearly – knowing that you have emotions and a mood rather than being had by your emotions/mood.

So, wiggle your toes, take a few deeper breaths – what do you choose? Go for a walk, sip your favorite drink, complete your email to your team, anticipate business implications…call a friend, hug your child …

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March 9, 2020 / Blog / Mariposa Articles

Working from Home: The Opportunity

by Sue Bethanis, CEO/Founder of Mariposa, sueb@mariposaleadership.com, @suebethanis

If you’re a knowledge worker living in the Bay Area and are not already working from home (WFH) by choice or by company policy, my guess is you soon will be. I suspect we will be following Seattle’s lead this week or next.

I have been working from home for 24 years as an Executive Coach, and I work with tech leaders who have made the transition to WFH in the past. Am working from home today, in fact, keeping tabs on my sick teen (he’s without-a-fever, but keeping him home for public health reasons).

Last Tuesday, I “penned” an article on “How to Be Leaderly in Utter Uncertainty.” Today, I am addressing WHAT AN INCREDIBLE OPPORTUNITY WE HAVE TO BE ABLE TO WORK FROM HOME. The Economist addresses the business opportunity of WFH here. The WSJ addresses the practical things of WFH, like your tech set up, here.

I am looking at a different opportunity: what you can do with that hour (or two) you just got back from no commuting and not having to sprint from meeting to meeting. And you’re not traveling, so you’re getting that time back, too. So, you really do have more time on your hands. I imagine you’re spending time getting set up and getting used to the idea that you’re using your dining room table or old card table as your workstation.

Once you have your set up, what are you going to do with that extra hour?

Three Ideas: Self-care, Family, Strategic Thinking

Self-care: meditation and exercise

If there is ever a time to practice meditation, now is the time. There is no question our collective anxiety is heightened because of COVID-19, the economy, uncertainty; and our individual anxiety is increased as well. Meditation and mindful breathing can calm us. Perhaps you have let your meditation practice go; if so, start it up again with 10 minutes in the morning. If you have never had a meditation practice, perhaps it’s time to start one up. One way to start is through repeating a mantra. I have used this practice for 30 years; it has never gotten old.

Sit in a quiet place with your feet on the floor.

Focus on your breath so that you can feel it go in and out of your nose.

Repeat this mantra:

  • May I be happy,
  • May I be safe,
  • May I be healthy,
  • May I live with ease,
  • May I be free.

Next, choose a person you’re closely connected with. Say his/her name in your mantra. You may want to choose a different person each day or repeat the mantra a couple of times in a day with various people:

  • May (name) be happy,
  • May ____ be safe,
  • May ____ be healthy,
  • May ____ live with ease,
  • May ____ be free.

Family: walking and connecting

You can create a “two-fer” opportunity if you walk with one of your family members or friends in the morning or as a break in the late afternoon. What an incredible opportunity we have that we get to see our family members more. Yes, I know – especially if you have kids – you’re going to have to create some boundaries for your work space and time; however, use this opportunity to put attention on your family members that you haven’t been able to do the past year, 5 years, 10 years…you know what I am talking about. Connect with them in a way you haven’t been able to in the past.

Strategy/Design: (Yes, you have been putting this off)

Once you get into your daily routine of WFH, think about that hour you have because you’re not sitting in your car. You have been putting off doing strategy work. And whatever strategic or vision documents you do have, they might need to be revised based on the new normal – the business climate took a huge detour last week, and today, March 9th, the DOW dropped 2000 points.

Re-looking at your business proposition, product, or market(s) might make some sense! So, what new scenario planning should you do? What approach could you take? For the past 10 years, I have used a Design Thinking approach with my company, Mariposa Leadership, and have worked with many execs and their teams using this approach. This requires looking at the market in a different way and bringing in your customers to solve problems WITH you. This Design Thinking method is outlined here. Typically, these types of journeys are done in person. Now, you have the time to do these types of brainstorming meetings via videoconferencing. What a cool opportunity!

To download a PDF of this article, click here.

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