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Last time my income dropped to approximately zero it was 2009 with the financial crash. Now I am in the same position with the Corona Virus. But this time it is different. Straight away I experienced an almost overwhelming feeling. I wanted to respond, not react. This time, I wanted to choose, to allow a gap before acting.

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. Viktor E. Frankl

I pressed the pause button for at least seven days to allow myself the emotional and psychological space from which to respond. The nice weather and lots of walking helped. I paid a lot of attention to how I felt. This time denial was really quick, and I entered the trough of despair with a bump. I felt angry, upset and really stuck with nearly all my work postponed. I was unable to see a future, no longer able to see my friends and worried about being a long way away from my daughter.  

So, I’m curious, where are you on the Change Curve right now?

On one walk I spoke with two people (don’t worry, a lot more than 2 metres away from me) who told me they were really pleased to be simplifying their lives with the constraints of lock down. I told them that in contrast, I felt really sad at not being able to go to Saudi Arabia, Belfast and Uganda to deliver training that I loved. In that moment we needed to honour our different places on the curve.

Having taken my gap, so that I could respond, not react, what’s happening for me now? These are some of the doors I am choosing:

  • Surprisingly I find myself moving from reluctance to enthusiasm to learn new skills. I thought I was good at virtual working, but, umm, there is clearly more to master..
  • I have found myself a new niche in wellbeing coaching, having applied to support (pro bono) the NHS.
  • My colleagues and clients are asking me to run virtual workshops and webinars on how to use their strengths in this challenging time. My flagship workshop is finding a new way to show up and support people at this difficult time.

It feels really different. I’m appreciative of being able to use my skills virtually. It’s a fantastic feeling to help people with their confidence, resilience, wellbeing and capability at a time like this.

Yes, income is still down, still nearly zero, but I learnt from last time that it can rebuild. And from my investment in personal development over the last decade, I am confident I have more resourcefulness, patience, perspective and capacity to look for what will help you, the client, with your new set of needs and priorities too. The focus is on you, not me.

So once again I’m wondering, where are you on the Change Curve right now? And if an honest conversation with a journeying partner might help. If you don’t already have a trusted coach, colleague or friend, get in touch. I love to talk, share experience and learn.

Conversation, emotional honesty, walking, perspective, kindness, compassion for self and others, re-connecting with our strengths in our new context are all really important right now.

Gill How is a Master Executive Coach and Innovative Leadership Developer who loves to enable professionals to stretch and grow. Please contact her for an exploratory conversation if you think her approach may help you succeed with your goals.

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Photo credits: Martin & Gill How.

Location: Chefchaouen, Morocco, the week before lock down.

Gill How

Helping leaders grow, step up and deliver outstanding results


  • Phill Slater says:

    No.5 on the curve but this article helps.

    • Gill How says:

      Thank you Phill. It’s really tough isn’t it. Perhaps it’s a tiny solace it’s happening to all of us at the same time.

    • Sue Greene says:

      Hi Gill, seeing you yesterday prompted me to catch up with your blog, and I have time to reply! Thank you and Mike for popping round in difficult circumstances to wish me a happy birthday, a chat at the end of the driveway was great!
      I find myself at 6 and sometimes 7 on the curve, and know it’s because of my easy acceptance of authority and making the best of what is in front of me, even if I don’t like it. However, that shouldn’t always be seen as a positive because the other parts of the curve can lead to useful and essential action. We need people to make a difference and sometimes that only happens as a result of the energy we can get through anger or sometimes grief. I wish everyone well and especially you in offering your support to the community.

  • Stephen says:

    Can I take the easy way out and choose 5.5? If in all honesty, like Phill, I’m 5.

    • Gill How says:

      Really pleased to see your sense of humour is still there Stephen! And you can be 5.5 one minute and then back again like a flash… we cycle round this I think

  • Monika Holland says:

    It looks like you are on no 7 Gill, well done and keep up with a good work!

  • Jenny Bowen says:

    Hi Gill, great article. I am fluxing between 5 and 7, each day there is more 7, which is a good to know. Hope all is well with you.
    Being kind to yourself as well as everyone else is the way to go.

    • Gill How says:

      Thank you! I totally agree with you about the kindness, Jenny, and giving ourselves some slack. There is a lot to adjust to. We still have really fond memories of the trip to Namibia you so expertly organised for us. Memories like this can help sustain us at this difficult time too.

  • Claire Middlemas says:

    To be honest I found myself immediately trying to be proactive but I think it was a knee jerk response to the shock! I would say today’ is a 3 but reading your blog and looking at the scenery in Morocco is definitely helpful. In fact a text with a colleague today we were just discussing future plans for a trip- Morocco is on the list!

    • Gill How says:

      My number varies, Claire, sometimes I go right back to beginning when I feel the shock of all this again. You can’t force it, but can (in my experience, anyway) take the time to feel it. And Morocco was great – if a little alarming to be there just before this all really took off and there were no tourists!

  • graham king says:

    Am definitely being dragged back to dot 3 however hard I try and skip to dot 5

    • Gill How says:

      I find it more like a circle, Graham. I move forward, then loop back – each time the penny drops that there is something else which needs to change, or a personal implication emerges (e.g. limitation of personal freedom) that I really don’t like. Recognising the loop really helps me cope. Thanks for sharing!

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