We are in the midst of a sea change. I believe that the way we operate as mental health practitioners, healers and helpers will be changed forever as a result of this crisis. There is some good news in this. Evolution spurs us forward to respond with creativity and new ways of thinking and working with others. But it comes with a dose of anxiety, worry, pain and struggle.
As we get used to the new parameters of telehealth, quarantine, billing confusion, cash flow problems, client cancellations, and overwhelm of those in need — balancing our own anxiety and well-being with that of those we help is hard. Lots of issues that we have never dealt with before are already in the pipeline, ready to present themselves. I want to share my thoughts about the best ways we can all survive, strengthen and hopefully even thrive — in the time of Covid 19.
This newsletter is a multi-part endeavor. I will share the aspects, strategies, tips and ideas that I am relying on for myself and for those I coach. Today, its about mindset. Read on for part 1.
Part 1: Anticipate More Disruption.
How A Crisis Presents Itself
The last time I wrote about operating a private practice in a crisis was in 2007, during the start of the US recession. At that time, I could see the recession coming, because many of us in the mental health field had already been in an earning downturn for many years. The rest of the country was just catching up.
But this crisis is more than a simple recession. Its a pandemic added to a global economic downturn. One thing we can be certain about: More disruption is yet to come.
The first response in the face of a crisis is usually emotional: fear and anxiety courses through us and our clients. Most of us exhibit some combination of fight, flight or freeze. You might feel angry and pressured to make radical changes as you see your practice flailing. Or you have numbed out, hoping against hope that it will all go back to normal soon. Or you are stuck, in limbo, not knowing what to do or where to turn.
Even if your practice is operating as usual, and you are not yet feeling much difference in your working life, chances are you will soon. This crisis has further to go. You need to be ready for things to get more chaotic. So more emotional reactivity is probably on the way.
As a business coach, I want you to be strategic and smart about the steps you take in regard to your practice, so that the important work you do stays viable.
Are you noticing any anxiety, fear, sadness or worry influence your decisions and thoughts about the future of your practice? If so, its important to mark out a business mindset from an emotional one, so that you make good decisions.
Why Business and Emotion Don’t Mix Well
Did you ever hear the business mantra, often used when the results of business are going to be brutal to someone: Its nothing personal, its only business?
This mantra is true because business has its own energy and can run counter to empathy. Business works by a separate set of rules, tied to the profit motive. As helpers and healers, we try to intervene. We aim to bring our best awareness of who we are and what we value, to advance ethical commerce. It starts with separating fear from fallacy.
In a time of crisis, we can get caught up in some “stinking thinking” or irrational responses with business. Business myths or fallacies feel true, but aren’t.
Here are 3 that might be nagging at you right now, that I want you to watch out for:
- The Fallacy of Control. Watch for assigning blame (to yourself or to others) as a basis for action. Trying to make sense of this crisis can lead to false feelings of control. The blame path will muddy your strategic thinking and planning. This crisis experience is not fixed in concrete. It’s more akin to shifting sands. Stay balanced, aware, open, and observant.
- The Fallacy of Fairness. This virus is going to affect people and their practices in many different ways. We are all in this together, but some will be hurt worse than others. If your practice is suffering and your friend’s is fine, its because business effects are rarely even-handed or fair. Watch for feelings of envy (if your practice is hurting) or moral superiority (if you aren’t.) It’s not fair. Just focus forward.
- The Fallacy of Heaven’s Gate. Many of us, as helping professionals, make a financial sacrifice for our work. We figure that our efforts to serve others and all we do that is unpaid and unheralded should protect us from harm. But business is business; it doesn’t discriminate for those with good intentions. Instead, we need to do good in the world and be good at our business.
The Solution to Anticipating More Disruption
Each newsletter, I will take you through the steps of a specific crisis-proofing process that I use as a business coach. It’s designed to help you to be as strategic as possible with all the practice-oriented challenges and decisions you will need to make. Here is what you can look forward to, over the next several weeks.
My Crisis-Proofing Plan:
- Do an “honest inventory.” How to do a quick review of the essentials in your practice — the strengths and weaknesses, assets and liabilities — so that any changes you make will be aligned with the reality of your business as it is now. Every client I coach begins with this customized inventory and I want you to start your planning this way, too.
- Triage for crisis management: Next, I want to show you how to assess your critical issues, to prioritize any urgent actions and know what to do right now, versus what can wait. This will calm any anxiety you might have, by making sure you are minimizing business risk.
- Check your positioning: Over several newsletters, we will look at how you can maintain, grow, or redirect your business. I will offer you examples of how to recommit, rebrand, or reinvest in your practice, so that it is stronger and more secure, depending on the larger practice goals you have for the future.
- See the opportunities inherent in the crisis: Yes, there is always a silver lining. What are the things you can consider now that can help you grow and expand, or become more profitable, or move in a new direction? We will explore what I see occurring for others during this time.
I will also post all of the newsletters online at my website, so you can review them there. If the newsletters are useful for you, feel free to forward to others. A rising tide lifts all boats, and we need to share what helps us with our circle of support.
If you have specific questions or concerns you want me to answer, email me at: email@example.com and I will do my best to include your concerns and ideas in future emails.