My year of extraordinary learning on and offline

The most effective approach to managing uncertainty in my experience is to adopt a mindset of being ‘clear about direction, but open to the route’. It speaks to the need for combining clarity of purpose with the vital importance of staying open to ‘tactics’, to be able to respond to emerging opportunities and challenges as and when they arise. It requires a high level of engagement, small step learning and reflective adaptation. It is an approach that this year has proved extremely useful to me.

Like many people I saw my plans for 2020 quietly dissolve in the chaos of Covid. With all bets off I took a leaf out of my own book and took the advice I have been advocating to leaders and communities for years.

Counterintuitively, the first step is to be still, to reflect on what is important and what is possible. I needed to think where new options might lie, do something I had not yet properly utilised or stretched. Amidst the uncertainty, building a safety net of skills that could enhance my work, operate both online and in the ‘real world ‘ seemed a good opportunity to explore. My work with leaders and teams to find their own solutions, create their own opportunities made the option of refreshing my coaching training a bit of no brainer, and having often been told that I should ‘get on the speaking circuit’, it seemed a good time to explore this too. Stepping cautiously but definitively out of my comfort zone.

Stepping out of my comfort zone and into a place of inspiration

I could not have anticipated back in March when I was looking into these 2 new avenues that the benefit of a new qualification and skillset were only the beginning of the value I would gain from these actions. At a time when uncertainty was stripping the sense of possibility from life I found myself plugged into two dynamic communities that were responding swiftly and effectively to the new reality, and finding good reason to be positive about it.

My life became a whirlwind of tutorials, workshops, seminars and zoom calls punctuated by home alone study, research and client calls. Although barely moving from one room to another I felt exhausted by the end of the week, but buzzing with new ideas, contacts and lit up with interest. I had attended my first online conference – what a revelation – networked internationally, and nationally won my first Speaking award, Emerging Speaker of the Year, and gained Distinction in my coaching ( in between moving house). The prevailing Can do / Will do attitude that stormed through the Professional speaking community and coaching industry was contagious.

Take action and leave perfection behind

The old adage of ‘Finding opportunity in adversity’ or ‘When one door closes another door opens’, have all proved true for me in this mad, challenging, and complex year. I have been inspired by the diverse group of people met through my studies and within the speaking fraternity, and delighted to have also recently been asked to become a member of another enterprising coalition of individuals promoting the wide ranging benefits of being a Portfolio Executive.

This is the year I have been inspired, spurred on, entertained, and learnt from a group of people I have never actually met beyond the screen, but who have filled me with ideas, advice and support that will carry me into the New Year. One of the greatest pieces of advice I have been given in helping me take these leaps into unknown was from my Dad, who once told me that; “If a job’s worth doing Clare, it’s worth doing, even if you do it badly.” In other words, if it is worth doing, you will gain value from it no matter the outcome. It’s just worth doing. That alone gave me the confidence, and the reason to leap. And boy was he right.

I have finished 2020 a little bewildered, tired but with hope and ideas for ambitious, but attainable goals in the New Year buoyed up by the incredible network of people I have met along the way and given a huge boost by the unexpected achievements of the year.

I think we all know now that the only thing we can be certain of is uncertainty, so take my advice, get Clear about your Direction, but remain Open to the Route – and enjoy the journey!