How did you spend your Summer Solstice weekend? If you are like most of us, you broke out the grill and dusted off the patio furniture. And you blocked off a few more beach days on the calendar.
Most marketers even embrace the belief that summer is about throttling back on promotions and new initiatives. And in some industries—such as ski resorts—perhaps they’re right.
I followed kickback summer traditions for 28 years. Then, right before spring 2018 ripened into summer, I filed for divorce.
My solstice serendipity suddenly shifted from WTS (Wind Down This Summer) to WTF. And it didn’t happen on my schedule.
Your mind probably assumed that WTF represents a popular American colloquialism. And it could. But for me, it’s a different acronym: “What’s the Future?” More specifically, what’s MY future?
Unlike previous summers, I am turning up the heat on taking actions.
Within just one week, the family “homestead” was packed up and I rightsized. Teams of friends and movers arrived and safely transferred my remaining household goods into temporary storage—I am renting a small townhome while my new place is being built.
I was on a roll, so I also made some big shifts in my business. I hired a new lead generation team. I selected a new co-working space near my temporary home. The days of flourishing in side-by-side home offices with my life partner disappeared.
This laundry list of massive action is not intended to impress you. Nor am I fishing for sympathy. My friends and family members have faced much worse circumstances. My intention is to provoke your thinking about the old beliefs around the cycles of nature, and the timing of business opportunity.
This is what I learned during my WTF summer:
- When your industry peers zig, then zag. Beliefs such as “customers don’t do much business with us in the summer, so let’s scale back,” may not serve you. While you’re considering delaying a great new hire, or postponing customer visits, your competitors will gladly pick up the slack. Some of my clients are currently searching for senior positions (CMO, COO, and President roles). And they tell me that the market is stronger than it has been in years. So why not update your resume, or take an online course to challenge yourself?
- Clear office and customer clutter. Know that desk drawer filled with useless files? Recycle them. How about those books you haven’t cracked open since 2004? Donate them to your local library.
What about that customer from hell—you know, the one who always pays late, and who turns down your invitations be a reference? Refer them elsewhere. You are creating a clearing for new experiences and creativity to breathe life into your projects. You are making time to search for a more ideal, profitable customer to replace them. It’s designing a more desirable future for yourself and the organization.
- Recruit your Love Army. When I separated from my husband, I suddenly lived alone. And I worried what would happen if I faced a medical emergency. Who would care for my cats? Would they discover me on the kitchen floor, grasping for air? Such morbid thoughts did not serve me well.
To restore my sanity, I knew I needed to do something differently. I contacted seven friends and asked if they would join my Love Army. Each morning, it was my job to check in with my designated person for that day. I provided my current physical and emotional state, something for which I was grateful, and my intention for that day. If I didn’t contact them by 10 am, they would either call or text me. This gave me a routine and a sense of belonging. Since that time, two other friends facing grief and loss have also recruited their own Love Armies.
The same concept might work for you at a professional level. Technology may connect us to the world, yet it has been proven to also foster loneliness and isolation. MIT Professor Sherry Turkle has written and spoken extensively on this topic. Why not have a Career Army? If you are preparing to step into a new role, or elevate your personal brand, consider asking 3 trusted peers if they will hold you accountable to your new behaviors and actions. Schedule 5-minute check in calls or text messages every week. Be sure they practice radical candor and represent diverse backgrounds.
When our best-laid plans are thwarted, it might take us months, even years, for the dust to settle. That’s understandable. Once we have started to recover, we need to act at a pace we may never have before experienced. These three strategies will help prepare you for that new cadence.
This summer might just be the ideal time for you to ask “WTF?” Will you harness the opportunity, or just escape to the beach?
copyright 2019, Lisa Nirell. All rights reserved.