During the late summer of COVID, after the first wave was subsiding and the second was still an uncertain prospect, I decided to take a short sabbatical. My coaching business has a strong counter-cyclic effect so I was not surprised that I had not lost that much business, but I had just enough attrition to make taking a month off a possibility. I thought that I might as well capitalize on what I hoped was just a brief respite on my work demand.
The time off afforded me some time to think and I made myself open to new possibilities. But, as the summer wore on I began feeling the weight of the crisis: not just the physical crisis of COVID (I remained virus-free) but the second order economic and mental health issues that followed on. So many people were suffering. By early fall, I had become aware of a subtle and gradual slip into depression.
That fall, I started a support group called the BIG reset. We each committed to eliminating sugar and alcohol from our diets, daily exercise and social connection, and reading a book a week. By the end of four weeks, I was feeling more energized and joyful than I can remember at any time before the crisis began. Depression was just the feeling of ringing out the old to make space for the new.
This led to an unprecedented surge of new coaching business. The entrepreneurs coming my way were not stressed out like in past down-turns and crises: they were all excited about possibilities and the prospects of finally getting to pursue their dream projects.
This result for me ran counter to my intuition, but I came to understand that COVID can be a generational opportunity to make important changes from personal habits to accelerating the transition to renewable energy sources. The usual impediment to innovation – our addiction to the present structures – has lessened as the status quo has been crumbling. The economic and emotional switching costs have fallen and there has never been a better time to launch something new and valuable. Despite the suffering and the threats, this is a real opportunity for many. A leadership opportunity.