I grew up in Central California. There we have a phenomena called Tule fog. Literally for days, sometimes weeks, on end we would have school delayed or cancelled because the fog would be so thick in the mornings that the roads could not be safely driven on to get to school. As a child, it was a perfectly normal morning routine in the winter to turn on the news and wait for the scrolling text under the newscaster’s desk to tell you which school districts could hang out in their pajamas for longer that morning or possibly the whole day! Warm and cozy in my home, I loved the fog, but as I got older and could drive myself, I finally understood why my world stopped for Tule Fog. This fog was like a whiteout blanket that caused you to see only one foot in front of your car. If the visibility was less dense, maybe you could see ten feet out and be able to see the curb, sidewalk, or brake lights in front of you. It was an intense, disorienting and eerie experience. Your sense of direction and safety is disrupted and, all of a sudden, the easy task of driving in a straight line to get to school feels completely risky and foreign.
In a big way, this is very similar to trying to be productive in the current state of the world. The global COVID-19 epidemic is like a dense fog causing simple tasks for most businesses and individuals around the world to become difficult, overwhelming and even dangerous or impossible. As much as we want to get back to normal life, we have adjusted to stay safe. When I learned to drive in this Tule fog, the biggest rule was to simply trust what you ARE able to see, not to look too far forward and imagine what COULD be in the fog that you couldn’t see (stopped cars, oncoming traffic, a stop sign, a person). If you focused on the imagined items not seen in the fog, it would cause you to become stressed, more paranoid than necessary and in turn drive even more slowly and dangerously (becoming a danger for any cars coming up from behind you). Instead, you HAD to trust what you were able to see and then do your best with that information.
All the “What ifs” are like staring at the fog
Right now, we don’t know what the COVID-19 future holds for us, as people, business owners or as a nation and global community. If we focus on all the “what ifs”, it can do us more harm than good. “What if” all my clients cancel? “What if” people don’t want to buy homes this year? “What if” everyone loses their jobs and can’t qualify for a loan? There are LOTS of “what ifs” if we let ourselves focus on them. Each one worse than the previous. This is like staring at the fog. It’s fog. You can’t see what is in it. You can only see what’s in your line of vision right in front of you. We can’t stop the fog but we can choose what we focus on and make our decisions accordingly.
With this in mind, I encourage you to make a list of what you do have control over, what you are able to do and how you can safely adapt and keep moving forward based on what you know to be true today. Maybe your real estate leads are starting to tell you they want to wait to list their house. Maybe your insurance business has people nervous to say yes to the commitment of the monthly life insurance payment. Maybe your financial advising clients don’t trust the market now that they have quickly lost 30% of their gains from the past few years. Are you going to spin out on the doom and gloom of the unknown or are you going to choose to adjust and focus on what you ARE able to see?
What can you do instead?
If people are hesitant to list, can you instead pick up your past client list and have quality conversations with everyone to hear how they are doing? You can do market analysis reports to let them know what their house is worth. You can give simple home improvement suggestions so their house can list for more when the “fog” lifts. Focus on what can happen now instead of fearing what isn’t happening.
If people are nervous to commit to life insurance, can you start creating content you’ve always wanted to create about the benefits and safety of life insurance for an individual. If your financial advising clients have cold feet, you can use this as an opportunity to review their accounts, get introduced to their kids and set up generational wealth conversations you never seemed to have time for before.
Although we’re not in the normal flow of having new listings, issuing more policies, acquiring more assets, we are at a wonderful time for deepening our existing relationships and beefing up expert content so that we are ready when the fog lifts and we can start to confidently drive ahead again.
What are YOU going to do?
What do you know is a clear task or project you can focus on right now? What past clients, existing clients or referral partners would love to hear from you right now? What system, CRM, video series, or podcast have you always wanted to create? Do that right now. Really. Don’t focus on the fog. If you move forward on what you see and know, you will be able to move confidently through these unknown times and safely arrive at your destination. Let’s keep focused on what we can do instead on the unknown of the fog.