By Emily Soccorsy
Do you know someone going through loss right now? Is that someone you?
Someone close to me recently went through an unexpected, jarring change.
It was not something she planned or asked for. As we broached the subject, tears formed in her eyes. She expressed sadness, anger, bewilderment, frustration in the face of this unanticipated change to her livelihood.
Change can really kick you in the gut.
So many people are confronting (or trying hard not to confront) change and loss right now.
This is true in our lives, where marriages, relationships, places of residence have fractured or shifted during the tumultuous last two years. This is true in our businesses, where key employees have left, people have retired, partnerships have dissolved, businesses have shuttered or reorganized.
It all gives us a tremendous sense of loss, and gives rise to all the feelings mentioned above – and more.
Branding is the practice of expressing our core truths to the world, and so you are most likely facing change there as well.
Core truths have shifted in the last two years. While they might not have been completely reinvented, they have been tested in new ways. This means values you (and I) held prior to the pandemic might have been strengthened, diminished or disintegrated to be replaced by other important values.
My dear friend has realized through this season of change that meaningful work and flexibility are now her two most important values when it comes to her work.
Another client took stock with us of her business’ brand and realized that the value of acceptance was more important than ever. Her value of acceptance has kept her incredible team intact and has allowed for all team members to stay engaged in their work and become more committed to the brand. By taking stock of the brand, she realized anew how operationally valuable it is to have clear values the team is all familiar with.
What has shifted for you? What feels closer than ever? What feels less important?
Not sure? Does the question itself seem overwhelming? That’s probably due to the fact that you haven’t stopped and set aside time to consider these questions or fully process the many emotions they bring up in you, in your loved ones, in your team, in your partners.
Few of us do. In our everyday lives, we have errant feelings and thoughts rise up within us. Our typical response is to push those away so we can deal with whatever pressing task is in front of us. We deal with the urgent so much, the important never gets a second look. Until it becomes a crisis, usually of identity.
Here are some strategies for these change-rich times, potential ways to deal with the fact that something has changed, and suddenly, you may be unsure of what direction to move.
1. Take emotional stock. Instead of fearing or avoiding the reality of change, see it as a chance to work on your emotional intelligence. Can you name the emotions this change has brought up for you? Can you feel them fully, and allow space for the most uncomfortable and fiery? Can you also leave time and be open enough to feel the brighter feelings? Can you name what you feel? This is the essential first step. It really cannot be skipped. If it is skipped, it will come back and beckon to you again and again.
2. Determine what remains true for you. The last few years have been like a collective forest fire upon our spirits. As the cinders smolder, we are left with the remains of what was hearty enough to survive. As you have come through this season of shifts and loss, what remains true for you? In your life? In your business? In both? This may only be one or two core ideas, which is fine. You can build around that which has survived the searing heat of the flames.
3. Open up. To learn anything, to flow in a new way, we must be open. Many times, our tendency is to stop, to protect ourselves from those vulnerabilities and uncertainties. But if we are too armored, have closed minds, fixed mindsets, tied up hearts, nothing new can flow. Be brave enough to share with your colleagues, friends, coworkers, leadership team, partners, what has changed for you. Talk about the emotions. Tell what remains true for you. If you are the leader, seek a professional who will appreciate your openness and apply their expertise to help you redefine yourself, your brand, your future. Have a growth mindset.
If you are certain your brand needs help determining what has changed and how to articulate that on the other side of these two and a half years, you are not alone. So many clients, friends have been reaching out with those sentiments in mind. Know you are not alone and be open enough to start a conversation about what that might look like.
As it turns out, change gives way to something even better. Even as we deal with loss, we have the thrilling opportunity to grow our imagination – and create what’s next.