While we’re all staying close to home or totally self-quarantined, there’s a sense of aloneness. Many of us, however, have an unkind Board of Directors in our heads. I am compelled to offer three suggestions to combat those voices and/or a sense of isolation. Using examples I work with on a daily basis, I hope to encourage you to ‘reach out and touch someone.’
- Pick up the phone. I know. It weighs 800 pounds, but the impact of your calling another soul lightens that task. I learned how to do this in 1993 when a woman in my fellowship phoned me. I want to give you her exact words, because I like having a script and I’ve imitated her ever since. She said, “Hi, it’s Nancy (not her real name). I’m just making an outreach call. How was your day?” Making an outreach call isn’t about being needy or dependent. Nancy immediately included me in the conversation with that simple question. After a few rounds of this behavior, I found myself opening up to her more and more. Not only that, I began using her technique to grow my own support network. It’s been working positively ever since.
- Find an action partner. Whether you’re a CEO or a stay-at-home mom, reporting in daily, or 2-3x per week, to a trusted ally is a lifeline. Someone else in the world knows what you’re up to. My calls with my action partners (yes, I have TWO) follow a formula. Whoever dials, and we rotate that task, speaks first for 7 minutes. The other person gives 3 minutes of feedback based on what was said. This is constructive, supportive, and encourages unconditional positive regard. Then we switch. The first speaker becomes the listener, and the listener shares for 7 minutes with 3 minutes of feedback following. I often blog right after I’ve spoken to my action partner because I’ve been witnessed, and that makes me feel great. I want to share it with you.
- Move a muscle, change a thought. My gremlins are in high gear with me being inside more than ever before. They have dance parties in my head and say God-awful things to and about me. “If you weren’t so lazy, you wouldn’t give up on trying to find the perfect packaging for your pillows,” I hear. Admittedly, they do push me towards excellence, but at what cost? When I make the decision to get up out of my chair and go for a walk, their voices subside. If I’m out in nature, swimming at my health club, or having dinner with a friend, they disappear. Saboteurs thrive on passivity. Couch potatoes are their fertile playground. Action is the magic word, but first I have to recognize that they’re there. I’m not responsible for the first thought that comes into my head, but I am responsible for the next one. I have the power to alter the script. On a good day, I do.