Ednah Khosa in conversation with the Factor10 Coaching Team

At the beginning of every year, we set goals in place, we make resolutions and we map out everything we want to achieve. We draw out places we want to travel and list prayers we would want answers for. We always look out for the good in all that we do and with confidence we always believe that it is going to be a year of great impact.

But what happens when all of that changes? What happens if your plans don’t matter? What happens when a year suddenly commands us to “STOP’’? What happens when we suddenly lose control and nothing is as it seemed?

2020 began like every other year does – people gathered in places in celebration of new beginnings. Organisations and teams gathered in board rooms setting up goals, clients they would like to win and margins they would like to hit. Entrepreneurs looked forward to finally launching that business, men and women in suits hoped to finally get the promotion they had been investing in for years. One of my friends said to me – ‘I couldn’t be more excited’.

But suddenly, everything stopped.

And silence filled the world, business stopped, the economy froze, and people suddenly had to really listen to the power of their breath _ and it was declared, a global pandemic_ Covid19!

Although normality stopped with this declaration – organisations and world leaders had to react. They had to think fast, make quick decisions and implement what they believed was the best response. Irrespective of Industry or specialty, this was a change that everyone all felt, a change that required all of us to be truly present in our homes with family and still manage to balance a life that would require us to also professionally show up for work.

I had an opportunity to interview and speak to the associate coaches within Factor10 Consulting. These coaches have had to experience the changes that came with the pandemic and both deal with them for themselves and also support and containment to clients from different organisations trying to build resilience, helping people cope and find their ways through the new ways of working. Most of my questions revolved around the areas, of transition, finding balance between work and family when working from home, the importance of routine, the importance of relationships within our organisations and the biggest challenges they had to deal with when connecting with their coachees.

NOW THE TRANSITION…

The first and immediate response to the pandemic was ‘stay home’. It appeared to be a very simple thing, until you really break down and understand what it really meant. When you have to suddenly stop going out for lunch, stop shaking hands in meetings and just be aware of your own surroundings. This meant that we had to take the time, to reconnect with our families and our inner being. That we had to deal with the matters that we would wake up and run from every single morning in the name of going to work, forcing us to remove the bandages and actually clean our wounds. The same thing happened with organisations, now you could see the cracks in the teams, the missing pieces, the holes in the market , the lack of justice in certain communities. We had to realise how to make space for everyone, to rebuild and truly learn ways to communicate better.

We had to adapt, to building new routines, to create boundaries and to find structure. From things as simple as walking around the garden in order to stay healthy to making soup every single Monday and still finding ways to bring joy into it all. We had to create a space that we were comfortable with, ‘It took mental preparation to show up publicly, to set up routine and take accountability’_ associate coaches explained. ‘You needed to be aware of your own struggles in order for you to really realise what others would be going through’, some said. For coaches it meant walking their own path of self- awareness, acknowledging shifts in behaviour, recognising and accepting that everything is changing in order for them to be able to transfer that energy to their own coachees. As someone said ‘ you can’t take someone to a place you have never been to’.

Building resilience, being courageous, being disciplined, realising that you now had to do things for yourself, wanting to CARE and to adapt and allowing your self to be human were key to conquering all the changes.

ORGANISATIONS

There is not a scenario where we can imagine that organisations had a plan in place for these changes. If anyone had warned us about what was coming we couldn’t have believed them. Many companies lost business and employees lost their jobs, and those that still had their jobs had to face and deal with the pressures of uncertainty, not knowing what would come next, not knowing if they would keep their jobs and feeling disconnected from the rest of the team. And for the people who had only just joined organisations, it meant additional pressure to connect, much more effort was needed to build relationships because even though we may be virtually connected people need to know you in order to trust that you can actually deliver. Just as employees had to trust that organisations value their work enough to want to save their jobs no matter the cost and although sometimes, change means losing your job, employees needed to know that their work mattered, they needed support, whether organisations were in business or not people needed to know that this is not the end.

VIRTUAL COACHING

Factor10 shifted to virtual coaching almost overnight in March 2020. This required a big shift for the team. As some explained – ‘walking into meetings in the 14th floor requires that you put on a suit, that you show up as the CEO or the manager that you are. It requires that you put on make up and wear your superhero costumes. Showing up as professional beings because when we are at work, we can’t not to be on our A game. Virtual work has made us realise that we are all human, that although we may be the CEO _we don’t have to have it all figured out. This platform allowed people to show up as their true self, to show up in causal wear with no makeup and costumes to cover up who they really are’.

This meant that people could then connect at a personal level, that people could share their stories by letting you into their homes, having a chat with the child that cried during a meeting, knowing that there might just be a knock on the door, but all of that was all okay.

Allowing coachees to take a deep dive and honestly talk about their lives. Allowing them to just show up and connect with coaches as two humans with deeper awareness and understanding. Allowing them to build and cross bridges that we wouldn’t normally cross because every single morning, we had to put on our super hero suits and wear our masks to work.

And this should be the new normal – one where employees can show up as their one true self, where they are able to talk about their families at work, to be able to express themselves however they see fit. If anything at all, now more than ever people who got to keep their jobs have had their hands full from all areas of life.

Taking the time to reflect and really look back to our experiences is crucial, because even though this time came with a lot of changes, lost jobs and lost lives. We still need to take a moment and celebrate all that we are, all that we have become during this time and realise that if anything we come out even stronger than we were.

We realise that we actually needed so little to survive, that living in the moment may just be the best way of living that we can ever experience and life like this can be much more fulfilling and satisfying. This year has shown us to believe in ourselves and be confident in our capabilities; and to cherish the little moments we have with our families. We needed to learn to be gentle with ourselves, to sit in uncertainty and ambiguity, to be kind and be willing to learn with all that came with the pandemic.

It has shown us the power of sitting quietly with ourselves and our lives. To notice our whole experience and to feel gratitude for all of it.