On close contact, consistency as a strategy and lockdown loneliness

“I get so lonely sometimes, I could put a box on my head and mail myself to a stranger.”
–  Mary Karr

Hello December,

We’ve made it through Lockdown 2.0 – kind of. How did this one work out for you? I heard a mix – from finding this fancy winter version harder, darker days, a sense of closing in to the “ok, let’s press 03/12 into the SatNav and go.”

I was in the second camp until the loaded “Close Contact” email from my 13 year old’s school landed. Two lovely words – “close” and “contact” – become a siren in our minds. A stark reminder of what this pandemic’s about.

Consistency as a strategy
BIG LOVE to all the amazing small businesses rapidly evolving lockdown strategies. From a PR and marketing perspective, this means staying helpful, playing the long game and paying close attention to customer behaviour.

It’s also consistency – the smart brands are using this time to nurture connection and relationships, and stay fully available to their customers – sometimes filling the space left by competitors to build brand love. It’s working!

The silent pandemic
Have you found that connection – or the lack of it- has hit you harder this lockdown?

Setting out as a founder or freelancer, on your own, you sign up to a degree of solitude. Long hours, often just you and your laptop, sometimes going whole days with no real interaction.

That’s caveated with the business of business – meetings (I’m a fan, I know you may not be), networking events, coffee catch-ups. Being around people in my work has always fuelled the energy in my business.

Lockdown loneliness feels different. A little heavier? 10pm What’sApps from clients and 5am Instagram DMs tells me I’m not alone.

Choose connection
Obsessed with the deep-dive, I spoke to three brilliant experts on how we navigate this particular brand of loneliness as leaders. And come out the other side, intact and ready to change the world in 2021.

Remember the social in social media
Training psychotherapist, Helen Marie, has built a devoted Instagram community using heartfelt, thoughtful and highly shareable moments of relatable inspiration.

“Connection is a basic human need and if you’re feeling isolated and disconnected you can rest assured that others are feeling it too, so delve into those modes of connecting with people where you can. Social media is an excellent tool for this.”

Helen recommends staying intentional in our social media engagement.

“It’s highly likely that those you engage with on a daily basis are like-minded so reach out, drop a DM, send a voice note. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you find that people feel the same as you. We are more alike than perhaps we give ourselves credit for. So taking the brave step of reaching out can bring a whole host of positivity back and unexpected conversations overflowing with new inspiration all from the tools right in front of you.”

I’ve used social media to connect more personally and mindfully this lockdown, opting for DMs over mindless scrolls. A lifeline to the world at times (as is Helen’s feed).

Nurture your inner circle
As a coach, James Butler’s worked with business owners of fast-growing business for more than 20 years. He’s familiar with how loneliness can be a side-effect of success.

“As a CEO – or MD or business owner – by definition you’re on your own. You’re carrying a lot of responsibility and often making big, strategic decisions alone, with limited people to turn to. So many of the leaders I’ve worked with have found it hard to admit to their vulnerabilities too.”

“That’s when an inner circle – like a mastermind or success group – can come into its own. I’ve found that peer input and connection really important in terms of having an outlet of sharing ideas, challenges and wins too, has helped a lot of my clients over the year. If you can’t find one to join, set one up – that’s what I did. Having those essential conversations helps us stay connected as leaders.”

Last lockdown, I joined a mastermind set up by a good mate. Monthly check-ins, WhatsApp brainstorms and snatched Zoom chats can make a blah day great. Let me know if you’d like support creating yours.

Stay connected to you
Women’s leadership coach Katy Murray  reminds of us the importance of staying connected to ourselves in these times.

“I ask myself three questions every morning – how do I want to feel today, how do I want to show up (or to be or to lead – do edit!) and what’s 1 thing I want to progress today. These basic Qs connect me back to myself even when life can feel very ‘soupy’ and there’s so much uncertainty.”

The days I use this practice, always work out better.  Head to @katycatalyst for regular #PowerPractices to support you through this tough season.

I hope these words serve you well. Stay consistent. Stay showing up. Stay you.

With love,
Antonia

PS if this blog post was helpful, I’d love you to share it with a friend!

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