There’s a lot been happening in the world this year and we wanted to chat with Craig about how 2020 had been for him, so far. His open, honest and personal response is both heart-warming and thought-provoking.
When lockdown originally started in March 2020 how did you envisage your life?
I wasn’t sure initially. From my perspective, I was living in a second-floor flat, alone, but I was determined to make it work and do whatever was required, such as setting up my home office as effectively and quickly as possible. I remember thinking about the ‘alone’ factor, but I didn’t think it would impact me too much.
What actually happened that was different?
The speed of change was unique. I was constantly adapting to stuff altering; national and local restrictions, and living and working in the same environment. It was a massive challenge and one I had to learn rapidly. I knew I’d be switching from 3D to 2D with my clients (3D – physical and 2D – online). However, everything I did was still possible and often even more effective using a 2D approach.
As I live by myself, I felt very alone. I wasn’t prepared for how isolated I was going to feel and the hour a day I went outside became such an important part of my life. Often I’d go beyond the hour, just to regain some control on my life. My loneliness and having no garden, day to day became a challenge to work around.
What were your highlights?
I chose walks that went through fields rather than urban areas. I stood on my tiny ‘false’ balcony, opening the French windows to give me a feeling of being outside. When I went shopping I walked there and made the most of other human contact. I actually enjoyed queuing outside… mostly!
I reconnected with so many people I hadn’t spoken to in decades. I hammered Zoom mega-style!
I tried where possible to make my environment different from before. I love my music and I was listening to music at every opportunity and not watching TV. I even adopted two balloons as friends! Although it started as a joke on a Zoom call, I still have one of the balloons months later.
What were your key learnings?
I was shocked at the speed that stuff stopped happening. This was a key reason for me to be part of the Rambutan free webinars; our ‘gift to the world’. Over 3,000 people attended our webinars which resulted in several chats about what I could offer people, as a gift. I’d always been tuned-in to helping others but the amount that increased was exponential. Whether that was help with being made redundant, being on furlough or even just with life. There was a core Rambutan team operating to keep the business going. My hours were long and challenging but rewarding.
My key focus was on recognising my resilience. Taking control of more within my life and identifying how much was inside my locus of control. For example, I chose to watch the news only once a day. I even found a total stranger in Spain who was there to help my parents when I couldn’t be. I believe that was a godsend and a blessing from an angel. Even now, this person still helps my parents. How amazing!
From a business perspective, having a crystal-clear rallying call was and is a top priority. One that’s designed to help people understand what’s required for now and what the direction of travel is, with total openness and transparency about how things are going. It’s ok to say you’re having a down day and not feel guilty about that. I surprised myself with the speed at which I could achieve work goals with my mantra of ‘good is good enough’. I’m much slicker, smarter and quicker than I was. At Rambutan we boosted our processes to match the environment but kept our top-quality standards.
LinkedIn, while always a business network site, became more of a community where help was being offered left, right and centre. People messaged me after the webinars asking how and what I was doing. These connections turned into quick coaching sessions, as a gift to help people. Even now I’m coaching people I hadn’t previously connected with for over 15 years; helping them to find new roles, settle into new jobs and manage their internal dialogue.
In my experience, people can cope with change with greater ease than they give themselves credit for. There isn’t a past normal or a new normal; things can change on a sixpence and there is just the present and going forward into a better future. I’ve adapted and found my new ways of doing stuff in this present world. At work, I chat on Teams and Zoom about life and don’t dive straight into business. It’s the 2D equivalent of a watercooler conversation – a virtual chat, a coffee.
I also aim to create moments of shift and find ways to separate my work and home life. At the end of my working day, I change my top to a different t-shirt. It’s a psychological message to me that my work day has finished. I also have five minutes at the beginning and end of the day when I stick my head out of the window and breathe in fresh air. I avoid being a slave to Teams and Zoom. It’s very important to me. I strongly believe we should all consider our new ‘rules of working’ and look after our wellbeing.
What advice can you offer to help people through any autumn/winter restrictions and potential future lockdowns?
• recognise your resilience – be proud of you, you’re doing a great job
• love the ones around you, even if it’s virtually
• do what you can to help others
• create separation from work and home
• most importantly cut yourself some slack
How are you recognising your resilience?
To stop it feeling like Groundhog Day I choose to think in a different way. I check-in on my mindset daily, with positive affirmations. If I’m struggling I check-in on my mindset in front of a mirror. It may sound weird but it really does help me reset my balance, accept what I can and can’t control and recognise that I have a future. It’s not easy; it’s up and down but I aim to make it more up than down.
I look after my wellbeing and give my brain a break by not looking at my phone and my laptop screen, even if it’s just 5 minutes an hour.
What’s your take on Craig’s advice and what other suggestions can you offer?