Grace under Fire

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Tips for maintaining professionalism in chaos

 

In the last three weeks, our world has been turned upside down by something well beyond our personal control. For many professionals whose careers have been built by discipline and control, it’s a real issue. While trying to figure out how to keep our businesses financially viable, we suddenly find ourselves as teachers, maids, cooks, and personal care professionals. It’s overwhelming, exhausting, and irritating.

In a crisis, an individual’s character is truly exposed. I’d like to share a few tips for the professionals that are also parents out there that feel like you are losing control. It has helped me maintain my composure while dealing with an immense amount of stress.

I’ll start by saying my family is in a dual-income scenario in which we outsource everything. Between my husband and myself we own two businesses, one of which has payrolled employees, the other has 1099’d and my husband is also an executive at a Fortune 50 company. This is my audience, so please disregard if you are in the great fortune of having a stay at home parent.IMG_9923

Routine: Not much has changed in my routine. I still wake up at the same time to get my workout in prior to work. Same bat time, same bat channel.  My kids, for the most part, wake up at the same time as a regular school day (6AM), and they need to get dressed and get downstairs by 7AM for class. This expectation was set as soon as we realized that we would be in this for several weeks.  Fortunately, their school work is relatively easy as they are still in elementary school. One of my sons has been late for school twice this week and paid the consequence by folding laundry.

I still get my toughest work done in the morning, it’s just an hour later. My business runs somewhat in a regular albeit shorter schedule. If someone were to look at how my company runs on the inside, they wouldn’t see much difference from January to today other than more virtual conferences.

Dinner and bedtime are still on the same schedule as well. This keeps my family on track in terms of expectations. While my kids know what is happening in the world, it doesn’t impact their daily expectations, same for employees. IMG_9924

Personal Appearance: Once they are started on their schoolwork, it’s business as usual for me. I still dress for work. A crisis is a time in which you need to be hyper-sensitive about the things you can control. Control the way you present yourself, get dressed, put on your makeup and do your hair, even if it’s not professionally groomed at this point. The psychological effects of maintaining your physical appearance in a time of immense stress are irrefutable. Personal hygiene and presentation are forms of self-care and this isn’t the first time I have been meticulous about my appearance. Three years ago I lost both of my stepparents within a month of each other. The only thing that I could control was how I showed up. My brother commented on my “grace” during this time period and it wasn’t that I had mastered grace, it’s that I displayed it in my appearance.

I have the same expectations for my children. They are to get up and be dressed just like they would for school. This gives them the sense that this is a regular day in which they need to be held accountable, just as they would be at school.

I have the same expectations for employees even though I cannot mandate it.

Patience: Understand that this is all just temporary. It may be a few more months prior to adjusting back to some of the way we operated in January. I use the word “some” because I hope that we bring some of the things we’ve learned in the chaos forward and incorporate it into our new normal. But for now, we can practice patience in all categories of our lives. Practice patience with your family, your profession, your expectations in the market, and your expectations with yourself.

This article may be irritating to some. It’s even a little irritating to me, but I hope that it will shed a little light on the importance of routine, personal accountability, and patience. As we navigate this, focus on the things that you can control and practice patience with the things that you cannot.

 

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