Washing machines help us clean dirty clothes. Some of the clothes come out perfectly clean. Others may still have the remnants of a stain that is now barely visible. And then there are some clothes where the machine, no matter how you well it cleans, cannot remove the stain. The stain remains visible to where you will decide to discard that piece of clothing.
Washing machines are also a great metaphor for relationships. All of us are imperfect. We have dirt and stains that need to be cleaned up. As with washing clothes, our relationships need repeated washings to keep them looking good to where they can perform as we need them to. In my personal business coaching practice in The Woodlands business and personal relationships are very often dominate over the topics of sales, operations and profitability.
Faucets and drains are two things designed to work together. Water comes out of a faucet and goes into a sink. Once in the sink, it flows toward the drain and goes away. Or you can stop up the drain and let the sink collect water. As a personal business coach in The Woodlands and in Houston, I look for the faucets in a business such as cash flow, marketing, advertising, operational and financial processes, administrative and management style, and most importantly, the people. And I also look for the drains.
Interestingly, there are several ways to look at faucets and drains in business. A company invests a great deal of money in an advertising program. The money is the faucet. It pours out into the advertising program. The advertising program is wildly successful at bringing in new and profitable sales. The sink, the company’s cash reserves, start to fill up. The drain, which is the money going out for advertising, is slower than the faucet that is bringing in new sales causing more money to back up in the sink.
One of the biggest challenges I have seen in my personal business coaching practice and in life over the past year is how to meet the challenge that fear, surrounding COVID represents. If there were a perfect answer, I would give it to you, and we could all happily move forward. But there is not.
The ultimate goal in business and life is to first survive and then thrive. Many businesses and individuals have gone from thriving to surviving. And some have experienced the most feared outcome, death.
For myself and my clients, we have fears. The fears are valid. Yet how we choose to act on them is our choice. Once again, if there was the perfect answer on how to react to our fears, I would be happy to provide it. Unfortunately, there is not.
With the advent of COVID 19, almost a year ago in the United States, there has been a transformation in how we look at ourselves, our relationships, work, and as a society in general. Where pre-COVID we trafficked in a currency of confidence and a “can-do” attitude we now use the currency of fear. Fear shuts down connections. Fear shuts down conversations. Fear shuts down moving forward. Fear isolates us. As social human beings this last one, isolation, is the one that has wreaked the most mental and emotional damage.
Fear causes us to grieve. We grieve because we have lost our sense of normal. We may have lost loved ones, our jobs, or our homes. Grief is the death of something. And fear triggers grief because we have lost our sense of normal and at the same time, as we move forward day by day, we have no sense of certainty about the future. In a way we are afraid to step out and move forward.