The arrival of spring never felt so tenuous.
Somewhere, in between one very high-stress business research trip to France that probably shouldn’t have been allowed to take place at all and ended early due to a country-wide lockdown, more than a few mental health days and sleepless nights, plus a handful of Zoom meetings that only served to remind me just how much I missed actual human company, and countless evenings trying to recreate Cantonese comfort food dishes from my childhood – *catches breath* – March turned into May and we’re now suddenly almost halfway into the year.
I had fully expected to have built a fairly significant roster of winery and other supplier partners by this time, according to the business plan I’d written in late 2019. But one of my first life lessons of 2020, as I quickly learned while in France, was to let go of expectations altogether and to simply “go with the flow”.
Going with the flow. Hmm. I’d heard it a million times before in guided meditations and in my yoga practice. Sounds simple enough in concept, right? It was somewhat achievable when I was committing to stretching out on a mat. But applying mindfulness / meditation techniques to business development? Well, that’d be a different kind of stretch.
Could I go with the flow and live to tell the tale?
Noticing what comes up in your thoughts
This was a scary one. With no one around to distract me in quarantine, my head filled with thoughts of fear for my family’s wellbeing, grief for the end of my social life as I knew it, and shock at whom I actually care deeply for and who apparently cares for me.
But then I decided to take those thoughts out of confinement and reached out to people whenever a thought of them arose, or welcomed conversations with people whenever someone was willing to chat. I’ve since been able to deepen my friendship with some very cool people, as well as make new connections, albeit virtually.
I can’t think of a better business skill than the ability to build genuine relationships. Did I actually improve upon this during COVID?
Staying focused on your breath
When I did, I realized I sometimes forgot to inhale or was holding my breath altogether. Sometimes, even now, I have to remind myself to breathe in. I also found a new, uninvited drumbeat of financial and social anxiety interrupting my regular breathing and sleeping rhythms.
Yet, when I truly paid attention to my body – working only when I had the energy to, napping if I felt I needed a rest, eating when I needed nourishment, treating myself to a longer beauty routine when it improved my self-esteem – I found that my productivity actually skyrocketed.
Before I knew it, I’d built two whole websites, designed an entire month of social media strategy and content, developed and executed a pitch for a wonderful contract opportunity, and more – all while quarantined. And I didn’t once pull a crazy 10+ hour work day like I used to in my corporate days.
Allowing the emotion(s) to occur
Not since one particular lover have I randomly burst into tears, my crying unbidden by anything other than a yearning deep in my heart for my soul to be seen – except for during this lockdown period when my tears seem to be on their own agenda.
I have been experiencing a similar set of emotions to that time I fell deeply in love: the purity and rawness of life as ultimate and finite; of us humans being incredibly small; of every second being its own fleeting moment.
What if everyone else is feeling the same way, I wondered? What if we’re all tired of hearing the same old meaningless drivel of standard advertising copy? What if we no longer wish to live the dull monotony of globalization? What if we want alternatives to big-box shopping? What if we still want to support the economy but actually feel something, and something positive at that, when we spend the little that remains of our hard-earned money?
I figured since I was cooped up with nothing but my cats and my thoughts for the foreseeable future, maybe now would be a good time to turn inward and reflect on the business priorities I sincerely consider important.
I guess it turns out that going with the flow isn’t so bad after all.
This spring, I’m celebrating the birth of my company, the rediscovery of my values, and the beginning of a powerful new mindset – that of embracing vulnerability and just letting things be.
I sincerely hope this season blooms with positivity for you as well, and that the principles guiding Quvé will resonate with you as much as they do for me.