10 years ago, my husband Mark and I had a side-hustle running a weekend Coffee Trailer on the sea front, across the road from where we lived. Good coffee wasn’t around and none of the coffee chains had made it to our coastal town.
I’d wake up each Saturday looking forward to my first cup of coffee, to spend time outside and to chat with our regular customers. Hard work, but a nice break from my 9-5.
We didn’t make much money apart from the occasions that created bigger crowds, such as the year the Tall Ships Race came to Hartlepool. (I’d never heard of it either. It’s pretty outstanding. Look it up!). It brought thousands of people to the town, and on the final day most of them lined the promenade to watch the Ships arrive.
We opened at 7am, and by 8am we had already served more coffee than a typical Saturday. This continued all morning and I had to call my parents to restock the milk and water.
I glanced at the queue, panic building when I couldn’t see the end of it. I nudged Mark and told him to look at the sea of people waiting for coffee. He turned up the music, continued steaming milk, and said to me laughing, “just don’t look down.”
I smiled, understanding.
Don’t look at the queue.
Serve one customer at a time.
One coffee at a time.
We finished the day drinking beer, eating pizza and laughing at the pile of 20-pound notes piled on the kitchen table.
After our request to build a fixed coffee hut was declined, Coffee@Seaton ceased trading. From time to time, we tell the story of `Tall Ships Tuesday’ and laugh.
The metaphor isn’t precise, but `don’t look down’ has become family code for taking things one step at a time. In March 2020, as the impacts of the Global Pandemic became evident, I needed this motto more than ever.
In June 2019, I officially started my Personal Development Business and with it my next life chapter. I left my leadership role at Amex GBT to spend my life supporting the development of leaders, teams and individuals, helping them to level up their life, achieving higher levels of fulfilment and success.
When the lockdown started, my business was progressing well, but still in its infancy.
In alignment with the guidance I provide to my clients; I have a big goal. Something I have never done before; it scares me a little and excites me a lot.
Through February and March, I listened to the daily Pandemic briefings, absorbed the information and reflected on my personal situation.
- My husband had taken voluntary redundance in January to accelerate his fine furniture business.
- Neither of us were eligible for support
- I had been speaking with large numbers of people who were ready to enrol onto my course, but felt there was now too much uncertainty for them to invest in themselves.
- I had to cancel two live seminars.
- The detailed growth plans for my business were now invalid.
- We were both trying to get businesses off the ground, while home schooling.
- My existing clients were thriving, and grateful to have the information and guidance I was providing.
- There had never been a bigger need for what I do. In that respect, timing was perfect. In many other respects, timing was disastrous!
One of the powerful processes I help people to implement is how to stay in control, regardless of what’s going on around them.
In other words, even if the world around them is falling apart, they have the tools to focus on what they do have, what they do want, rather than what they do not have and what they do not want. This means they never have to be a victim of circumstances (Global Pandemics included).
For me, this meant locking into my goal even more intensely and advancing confidently. It required accepting the situation as it was, paying no attention to the things I could not control and focusing on everything in my life that I was grateful for. It also meant being a seeker of solutions and opportunities, as opposed to obstacles and problems.
These things are easy to talk about and simple to write about but challenging to carry out. When you’re in the grip of your own life circumstances, more money is flying out than is coming in and you’re now questioning everything you were sure of, life can get tricky.
I definitely teetered more than once.
I had been working 8-hours per day, confidently building my business. Then, almost overnight, 4 hours were diverted to exercising, educating, entertaining and feeding two kids (aged 3 and 8). Thankfully, Mark took a bigger share, but the interruptions were relentless.
After a day of frustrated tears, I was forced to get real about what I could expect to achieve for my business. I decided to `park’ the whiteboard of ideas and plans I had for 2020 and simplify things.
I reminded myself of the reason I moved into the Personal Development Industry. I have lists of the things I want to achieve, the businesses I want to work with, the courses and books I have in progress, but it all boils down to a simple vision.
I want to help thousands of people transform the quality of their life.
On Tall Ships Tuesday our goal was to provide coffee to everyone in the queue. We would have loved it if they didn’t have to wait 30 minutes, but that was an impossibility. During 2020 I wanted to be delivering 4 live seminars per month, facilitating my leadership development courses in person and doing more to promote my business, but during a Global Pandemic and a working week cut by 50% it was not going to happen.
Don’t look down Lorna!
- Don’t try to guess when lockdowns will be lifted.
- Don’t wait for certain industries to recover.
- Don’t try to do 8 hours work in 4 hours.
- Take one step towards growing your business each day. One Coffee at a time!
What can I do during a Global Pandemic? What do people need?
I decided on two priorities:
- To continue to serve my existing clients and continuously improve the way I support them.
- To find a way to reach and help as many people as possible during this period.
Once I let go of all the things I couldn’t do and decided on some simple priorities, everything shifted; I felt confident and calm, I was lighter, focused and excited.
I built a Facebook page called BeTheChange and started recording daily videos filled with supportive ideas and reflections.
I was invited to speak to several business leaders looking to offer support to their employees, I was interviewed for the radio, and I developed a `Furlough friendly’ course that would help people thrive during the challenging time.
I built and delivered a webinar called `Managing your mindset during uncertainty.’
I shifted my focus from growing a business, to being in service to others. This is now the only way I work. With or without a Global Pandemic.
When the schools returned in September, I launched my 6-week Mindset Bootcamp course, which became one of the highlights of 2020 for me and all the wonderful people who attended.
I am frequently asked whether the Pandemic has impacted my business and my answer is always the same. I have nothing to compare it to, but I have had steady and continued growth, a network of people thanking me for changing their life and I ended the year with some big contracts agreed and several in the pipeline.
Going back to February, had I allowed a sufferer’s narrative to take hold, I would have been finished.
What did I learn that might be helpful for you?
- To be present, happy and grateful for what I have, while enjoying working towards an even better tomorrow.
- When I am in service to others, I literally cannot fail.
- The plan may change, the goal should not.
- Recognise early what cannot be controlled and let it go quickly.
- Focus on what I want, not what I do not want.
I wish you a year of revival, abundance, health, wellness and prosperity.