Friday, 3 April 2020

Sink or swim

Ever since I was tiny, I've had a fondness for hurling myself in at the deep end.  Literally.  When I was born my mum was a swimming pool attendant which meant that my formative years were spent around the local pool (or 'baths' as they were then known!).  Not that I remember much about that now, obviously, but I could apparently float before I could walk and had little fear of water. 

One story that is often told is about a trip to the pool when I was aged about 4 - we had been merrily splashing away in the water and I was floating around in my armbands.  We got out onto the poolside and my mum made the fatal error of turning her back on me for a couple of seconds.  Within those seconds I had hared along the side of the pool and, when my mum turned back around, she saw me (still thankfully in armbands) stood on the top diving board.  I can only imagine what was going through her mind as I proceeded to hurl myself off the top board into the deep water below, and emerge, thankfully, unscathed from my adventure.

Although I remember nothing of that incident, it's absolutely typical of how I generally approach life.  If you've followed this blog from the start you'll know that we launched into our life in Cumbria full pelt, living in a campervan for 3 months because we didn't have a house.  You get my drift.

Calming pictue of Ullswater
All of which brings me to the current situation, where we are pretty much all in at the deepend together.  I'm not going to lie, even for someone like me, who has a fondness for deepends, this is scary.  I am a small business and, as things stand at the moment, I have fallen through all the cracks in government support - our only options are a loan (which I'm avoiding becuase I don't want to place any future strain on my business if I can possibly help it) and a mortgage holiday, which isn't a holiday so much as a deferrment.

Rather than sitting around feeling sorry for myself, I've pulled on my armbands and raced to the top diving board again.  My work away from here is delivering face to face training courses, which are clearly all cancelled for the foreseeable future so, within the space of 10 days, we have completely reinvented our business and moved absolutely everying online (when I say 'we', I deliver all the coures, but I couldn't do it without Steve setting up all the IT behind the scenes for me - if you've ever seen the IT Crowd he's Noel Fielding in the basement...!)  You can find full details of what we're up to at the end of this blog, and your support would be deeply appreciated.

To give you an idea of the sorts of things I do, and to hopefully be of some practical use, I thought I'd share with you some tips that help me navigate the deep waters I so regularly find myself in.

  1. Don't focus on the big picture - big pictures are scary.  I find it helps to have a rough idea of the big picture and then focus on what I can do today.  As a kid it's highly unlikely that I thought through the whole 'diving board' thing, I just ran up the steps, one at a time.
  2. Beware of information overload.  In the current situation it is so easy to become overwhelmed with the sheer volume of information out there.  We absolutely need information, but hone down where you get it from and how often you look. I find the BBC has good updates, but I don't need to keep refreshing the page every 5 minutes.
  3. Seek out support.  Even on my diving board adventure I still needed armbands. You may be in isolation, but you don't need to be alone. There are, literally, dozens of apps that will help you connect to people and, once you've connected, don't feel the urge to put on a brave face the entire time.  We're all struggling.  We all understand.  We're all happy to help.
  4. Celebrate the small stuff.  Yes, there will be a big celebration when all of this is over, but celebrate small things along the way too.  We were setting up a laptop yesterday and every time something worked we high fived.  It was silly, but we need silly right now.
  5. Go easy on yourself.  I may look like I have this all under control, but I don't.  I'm terrified and have broken down in tears many times. If this new business fails we have no money, it's as simple as that, so yes, I am scared - and that's OK.  There have been a couple of days when I've not got much done at all.  That is also OK.  Just keeping taking one step at a time, even if those steps are sometimes wobbly and a bit soggy.
Hopefully some of that has helped in a small way - and I am always here if anyone wants a natter - just leave me a comment, or find me on social media for a chat because, let's face it, we could all use more friends right now.  Stay safe and keep smiling.

For those who are interested in supporting our new business, it's called OnLive Learning and we currently offer over 30 interactive, online, learning events.  The Personal Development modules are just £10 for 30 minutes and the Management Skills modules are £20 for 1 hour.  Discounted season tickets are available - full details right here.

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