Movement is progress, movement is energy, movement is journey. As bipeds, we crave for movement.
In the last few weeks, right in the middle of a fundraise and few advanced due diligence as well as conversations on partnerships, everything stalled…no movement.
Meetings got cancelled with no view as to when they would be rescheduled. Not because our side couldn't connect on any teleconference tool but because the other side couldn't gather their staff or their thought.
As frustrating as it is, particularly as a small start-up, we took no time to move into action.
In my simple mind, I see two ways to deal with unforeseen circumstances:
ponder, panic, stop, hide, spiral down, retract...no movement
be opportunistic, creative, take the lead, find ways, step up…movement.
Look the other way:
All the leads and opportunities that we have slowly built in Asia are paused. Not dead…paused. Whilst we keep on interacting and engaging from time to time, we know that nothing will happen for at least a month or two: financial institutions are now in BCP mode. Having designed BCP plans for the functions I was responsible for and even worked in a site after a bomb scare a while back in London, I know how bleak the situation is for those institutions. They have tons of problems, I don't want to be another one.
Europe and the US have not altered their work, calls and video meets still happen. Opportunities have mushroomed since we decided to look Westward.
In those trying times, share more than you normally would.
I usually keep most of what I do to myself and give updates when there is some sort of traction. Not that I don’t trust anyone but because at this stage of our industry, some ideas are wild and coming from me, if I say they are then you know they are very very wild! Sharing raises more questions (not on my sanity as we all know where it stands!) and diverts people attention from their tasks, their focus.
That has changed, we share updates on revenues and fundraise at least every other day on an internal page and weekly on a call.
We don’t hide anything. Half-baked crazy ideas are still off-limits but the rest is shared even if there is no update. Having no update is an update.
You can never over-communicate. Communication is movement.
There is nothing worse than not sharing your feelings where they are heading south.
Speak more often than not with your team, family, friends. Don’t close down and try to be a hero: get support, raise your hand when you feel wobbly. It's ok! We are not robots and whilst we all react differently to stress, we are all the same in that we want to be heard, feel part of a community, interact, hope and ultimately, be happy.
The other side is equally important: ask your colleagues if they are ok, be nice, listen, pause. Go a little bit further than “hi, all good?”. Give time to others. Stress is expressed differently by different people and not always apparent to be spotted.
Micro-dose on anger:
This one is more talking to myself because I hate being trapped and not having options. There is always one window open for every door shut on you but sometimes that window is not that obvious. I feel angry in those situations (anger is movement) but I have learned to control that destructive mood. I micro-dose on it, I use it in small doses and not for a long time…you won't notice.
Look forward (to look back):
A useful visualisation technique is to focus on a vantage point in the future and look back from there. How would you feel? What would you remember? Was the situation as bad you believed it was when you were experiencing it? What did you learn about yourself?
We don't keep a lot of info (good or bad) in the confines of our skulls; we simply don’t have the space. So we parse a lot of data.
Looking back has an effect of spraying a fair dose of realism if not optimism on what happens today. If we are here to tell the story, it means we haven’t lost our sanity or life over that past episode.
Learning is movement even if it means trying hard, making mistakes, doing but not knowing if it is the right thing to do...Am a great believer of learning by doing but it would be a fallacy to think I could do anything absolutely on my own.
Bring your team in, let ideas flow unbridled. It creates cohesion, care, focus. In times of crisis, ideas are nuggets and whilst they are still cheap if they don’t lead to action, they can’t be discounted.
A little excitement is encouraging. Everyone can be creative as long as they feel they have the platform, trust and support to express.
A final point on learning is that extreme stress situations are rare and being part of one created deep experiences and relationships that are invaluable. I remember going through the apocalypse of 2008 and that fateful day of 15th September. As a prime broker, I was first row to witness something that could have never been planned: we had to work so hard for weeks on end to mop up the AUMs flowing to us and we pulled it together as a team. Invaluable lessons that stayed with me ever since on resilience, team-playing, focus, hardwork etc.
It’s not a dance competition! We don’t measure your sweat outpour but outcomes. And the immediate outcome is money through the door.
No time or any opportunity to free-ride or hide. We need everyone alert and on the deck to raise the bar in these times of need. Leadership is situational and it’s up for grab by anyone. Take over control the situation and if you can’t, move on...Don’t be a weight, don’t become a reason why the team becomes dysfunctional. No hard feelings, we will welcome you back later if then we are more aligned.
I wrote a post about it before. I don’t have the “worry gene” in my body. I stress but never worry about the unknown. Unknown and worries are not movement. They pulled you down to a standstill.
Stress helps you focus and kicks up your backside into action. Like anger, micro-dose on it because you don’t want to lose out sleep over anything. Sleep is a medicine and you don’t want to weaken yourself by not sleeping especially with those nasty bugs around.
I never saved any Life in the last 20 years of being in financial services and I have never met anyone who has done it either.
Keep moving, keep learning, keep growing.