I normally reserve talking about the well renowned Change Curve (a model originally developed in the 1960s by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross to explain the grieving process) for our culture change projects – and in particular, to help frontline teams and leaders understand that emotional, irrational reactions to significant business change are perfectly NORMAL.

The original Kubler-Ross model detailed the 5 stages of grief that a terminally ill patient would progress through, when informed of their illness, namely Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Kubler-Ross further proposed that this model could be applied to any dramatic life changing situation (such as a culture change within an organisation) and by the 1980s, the Change Curve was adapted within a business context, to become a 3 stage process covering the core emotions originally cited in the grief process:

Stage 1: Shock & Denial

Stage 2: Anger & Depression

Stage 3: Acceptance & Integration

change curve inner

However, who would have thought that we’d be discussing the Change Curve in this particular context…we are experiencing unprecedented times right now. The Corona Virus has knocked us all sideways (at very least) and for some of us, it’s completely knocked the wind out of our sails and blown us totally off course – indeed, almost shipwrecked some of us.

We feel blessed and thankful that’s not happened to us here at First Impression Training. To be clear, that’s not because we operate a bullet-proof, virus-free business here in the Southeast – we’re also in virtual lockdown. Indeed, our entire revenue disappeared overnight last week, although we absolutely know for sure, we WILL all wake up from this nightmare – and when we do, we’ll still be forefront in our clients’ minds, because we’ll have ensured we’ve never been far from their minds during this difficult time.

You see, here at FIT, we’re CHOOSING to FOCUS on those things that are WITHIN our control, rather than FESTER on those which are NOT right now!

This virus is waaaaay outside our control, albeit we can definitely do things to contain &/or lesson its impact (as can you) but it’s going to take some time for us to come through this and out the other side (of the Change Curve), hence my mention of it in today’s article…

Many of us (particularly us leaders &/or Heads Of &/or business owners) are still in stage 1 of the Change Curve. We’re still experiencing feelings of shock and numbness and disbelief and despair about what’s happening to us right now. We’re fearful – and fear can stir a whole range of other emotions in us, from anxiety and pain to anger and depression, all feelings which can freeze our ability to think &/or act in a rational way.

Some of us are already there – in stage 2 and are properly feeling that anger and depression. We’re panicking, full of dread and helplessness and the blame culture is spreading fast – victim mode is setting in and we’re rapidly falling into, what my business mentor calls ‘the Valley of Doom’..…OMG 🙁

Then there are the selected few (hence why we say we feel blessed and thankful to be here) who have arrived at stage 3 already, as we have. They, like us, have ACCEPTED that this global change is far bigger than they are. COVID-19 itself will not destroy the Earth, but its impact on our emotional health and wellbeing definitely will – if we let it.
That’s why we’re CHOOSING to ACCEPT what’s outside of our control right now, and FOCUS on what’s within it!

So, what CAN we control?

Well, we can certainly control what help and support we provide to our clients at this challenging time.
…we CAN control how we fill our time during these long dark hours we face.
…we CAN control the mood we CHOOSE to be in at any given time and the thoughts we CHOOSE to hold firm in our minds right now.
…we CAN control the way in which we RESPOND (rather than REACT) to events going on around us, so that we maintain our internal emotional state and equilibrium.
…we CAN control what we CHOOSE to FOCUS on.

And we’re CHOOSING to focus on ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that will prepare us (and our valued clients and contacts) for that day, when we’d have INTEGRATED the learnings from this global pandemic we’ve experienced and give new meaning to the world in which we now work, which will have changed forever – THAT we know for sure!

The saying “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted” has never felt more true for me than it does right now. I’m using this time (which I never wanted or expected or would ever normally welcome) to experience a new way of living and working right now, that is enabling me to act in a far more thought-through, rational and logical way. It’s actually quite liberating. Quite therapeutic in fact. Indeed, it’s incredibly empowering to know that I’ve finally got the time to focus on all those things I’m able to do, for myself and for others, that I’ve simply never had time to do before, due to the fact that I’ve been so busy chomping at the bit, getting dizzy on that hamster wheel!

Things like providing EVEN more practical help and support to my clients and contacts, at a time they’re least expecting it (AND for FREE) via a variety of means – Zoom, video, webinar, email, telephone, Skype, social media….ensuring THEY stay focused on all the things THEY can control right now, to help THEM get through this tunnel, to emerge into the light, safe and sane and strong for when the time arrives – as it will, because ‘this too shall pass.’

Things like creating a series of bite-size video training sessions, focused on a particular FIT tip, technique or strategy to support frontline staff as they continue to find ways to SHOW UP & STAND OUT from others in their field, to become that ‘Purple Cow’ which has never been important than it is right now!

Things like doing a podcast for my niece, who runs the most amazing VA business from Bali – https://www.emiliapowell.co.uk/ talking about my OCD (Obsession with Customer Delight) and how we’re staying focused here at FIT, to ensure we emerge triumphant from this rollercoaster we’re all on.

Things like setting up a brand new home routine – where David and I begin our day (or spend our lunchtime, dependent on what we’ve got on that day) with a brisk walk down to Allington Lock and back and then work from our daily plan, which we’ve created the night before, ahead of leaving the office each evening (which happens to be at the end of our garden!) of the 3 key things we WILL get done that day.

Things like creating a whole new ‘nice to do’ list, now with a deadline date attached of all the things we’ll get round to during this period of quarantine, such as clearing out the office (which has 19 years of ‘toot’ in it to sort) and finishing off my vision board for 2020 in a far more creative way, now I’ve got more time to focus on it.

Things like setting proper scheduled time aside to have virtual hangouts with my Mum on FaceTime; with my friends on Zoom and most recently, to try out the new House Party app, so I can properly socialise (albeit virtually) in the evenings, when I’d still usually be working.

Life will never be the same again once this pandemic has passed – as it will. Post-Corona, we’ll be living in a brave new world, where I believe, people will start, or continue to behave differently – a good different; a more empathetic different; a more meaningful different; perhaps we’ll become TRUE human BEINGS rather than human DOINGS when that day arrives – I pray we do!

I think this beautiful poem sums up stage 4 of the Change Curve.

change curve inner 2

When we ACCEPT and INTEGRATE this new way of working and living, with grace and optimism and gratitude and hope, we’ll emerge a more positive human race, where never again we will take for granted the time and space we have to CHOOSE what we FOCUS on each day, to ensure we make the most of every new day we’re blessed to get to enjoy…….and when Corona will be back to being a rather nice beer, perfect for drinking at the end of a productive day

Until next time – stay safe, stay sane…. and keep FIT!


Hello... I'm Marie Cross

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