How COVID-19 has forced us all to relook our practices, lives and goals
Many of us react in quite different ways to changes happening around us. Take a moment to read this short account of what is not so much my change journey, but what it could mean to you, your practice, your team in becoming stronger and more flexible in response to change in an ever-changing environment.
In December 2019, when the new coronavirus from China was reported, I think many people in Europe looked at this development as something far away from their reality, never thinking it might affect them. Fast forward a few months, and suddenly it was as if the whole world stopped functioning. Country after country started closing borders, shops, clinics, practices, professions—introducing national lockdowns of different extents. This had an enormous impact on people’s lives, communities, economies, social relationships, finances and so much more.
Being a corporate trainer and a life coach, I often explain that it is not what happens to you, but how you react to it that will define your reality. This was never more applicable than in this turmoil taking over the entire world. By mid-March, my fully booked agenda went to zero in 72 hours. With no job, no income, no financial support system, I had a choice: either accept that I did not have this in my hands and live from my savings for the next six months or reinvent myself.
To be honest, I resisted reinvention at first. I resisted change, resisted starting over again, resisted being forced to have to change and so on. I kept repeating to myself in my head all the limiting beliefs that kept me in this resistant state of mind. If I wanted to be working again as a speaker, a corporate trainer and an executive and life coach, I would have to let go of my attachment to live face-to-face meetings, of what I knew, and look into new possibilities, exploring the virtual and online world of training and coaching using webinars via Zoom and all the other online platforms and tools.
By dealing with all the reasons I told myself that this was not for me (I did not believe in online training, I was too old to change, I was not technical, I was not a digital native, I was a people person needing to be in the same room with my participants), I found out that I could have an impact via online platforms, that I could learn new skills, that I could inspire, coach, teach people around the world. And honestly, since April 2020, I have never been busier training and coaching people online from four continents, including many speakers from Align Technology, helping and guiding them to make this digital transformation into online training. And I love it! I have seen that we can have an impact online, maybe even more so than otherwise: on a regular day, I easily have two to three webinars or coaching sessions, often with people from different countries or continents. In a live setting, I would not have been able to impact so many people in this same time frame.
Why am I telling you this? What is in it for you?
Maybe you have encountered some similar reactions within yourself or your team? Maybe you have noticed that you had some conflicting thoughts and beliefs where on one hand you wanted to deal with the changing situation in a positive way, yet there was a saboteur inside of you feeding you limiting beliefs.
In starting this process of changing my mindset, I used a model called Dilts’ logical levels of change. This proven model was developed in the 1970s by the international expert in leadership and change management Robert Dilts and is based on the work of scientist and philosopher Gregory Bateson. The model helps us to understand the different levels at which we experience our world. The levels are environment, behaviour, capabilities and competences, values and beliefs, identity and purpose (Fig. 1).
I realised that the higher I went in the pyramid, the higher the impact, and that the higher levels influenced the lower levels directly; what I have in my mind impacts my capabilities and competences, my behaviours and my environment. Energy follows thought. My actions, my next steps, my energy will be directed by what I have in my mind. With the impact of COVID-19, what I had in my mind, to be honest, was definitely not stimulating or positive.
By identifying, literally writing down, all the limiting beliefs I held then regarding my current situation, I wanted to start doing something with it. I compared my limiting beliefs to a kind of a poison that had entered my mindset, making me look negatively at my environment, feel demotivated, lose energy and experience any number of disabling emotions. It was very helpful and insightful to identify these beliefs, and some were very present while some were more in the back of my mind, but they all took my focus away, drained my energy away from what I wanted to achieve, where I wanted to go. I then literally took one belief at a time and started working with it, asking myself, why do I believe this, why do I keep feeding that thought, how can I neutralise this, how can I find ways to change my focus on this? So, I then came up with stimulating beliefs to neutralise my limiting beliefs, like an antidote to the poison that had somehow infected me.
With some of these limiting beliefs, it was easy to do so; with others, it was much harder. I remained attached to what was in my head, until I developed a new awareness. I realised that I had put these beliefs in my head, nobody else; I had accepted them. I realised that I was the only person able to let go of them. I was the cause of and the solution for what lived in my head, where I had put energy in, where my focus was.
This was a breakthrough, and it gave me the energy and strength to really do the inner work fast, and within a few weeks, I started my new career as an online trainer, speaker and coach—something that I would never have thought possible suddenly became my reality. And you know what? These days, I mostly work with individuals and teams on their belief systems, because we have not only individual beliefs but also collective ones. It has been very enriching to do this work with teams and discover their individual and collective limiting beliefs and how they could individually and collectively change their focus, neutralise these thoughts and create a new outcome, a new future.
That to me has been the gift COVID-19 gave me, and that is my invitation to you: how will you get yourself and your team aligned to what the new future holds, not only regarding the environment (masks, sanitisation gel, personal protective equipment), behaviours (no touching, social distancing) and competences (new procedures and protocols), but also concerning mindset, since it impacts all the rest, for you and for your team?
I can only wish you an exciting journey of discovery, of growth, of creating abundant possibilities and opportunities in this ever-changing world. It is my belief that we can all create so much more, have so many more desired outcomes, be more aligned with who we are and what we want to achieve in life, and this model helped me to realign and redefine this. If I can be of any service in guiding you on this, please contact me. I am only one email or Zoom call away.