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Choices today impact the future

Change is inevitable! How we handle it is optional. If you take nothing else away from this post, I want you to remember that your choices today will impact your future. With so much going on in the world, it is creating a high level of uncertainty (rightfully so). It is as though we are standing toe to toe with some mystical creature, staring it in the face and trying to make sense out of what we see.

Let me help you. STOP. Just stop trying to make sense of it. You will drive yourself crazy or get devoured because you are trying to figure it all out. Instead, can I encourage you to be present? Because at this moment, this is all you have and you can make a choice to maximize it. 

Let's discuss how you can make the most out of the uncomfortable. We do it day in and day out. We adapt and adjust to situations and to the needs of others. Some people force others to adapt to their needs. Others adjust to ensure those around are comfortable. That is what we do. This is one of those times. People are losing their jobs. Some are working from home. Either way, everyone is being impacted and the changes are uncomfortable.

The challenge is, we view this discomfort as though it is a bad thing and only focus on the negative aspects. However, it is in the uncomfortable moments that people experience exponential growth. We just have to be willing to take action. I want to share a story about my professional typhoon and the growth I experienced over that time.

In 2012, I was involuntarily transitioned out of the Starwood family after 12 years with the company. The caveat to receiving a severance package was that I had to complete the acquisition of the hotel. Was it uncomfortable? Yes. Did I adjust? Yes. It now remains a pivotal moment in my life and career. I learned and accomplished a lot in a short period of time.

The hotel’s executive team jumped ship shortly after the announcement. Making me the most senior person on the team during the transition. Did I adapt? Yes. I did not have time to focus on the uncertainty that was attempting to occupy space in my mind. Nor did I have time to stand toe to toe with the thoughts of a jobless future. I had to focus on being present. Here's why...

People still need leadership. Regardless of the changes that we are faced with, there is someone who is still looking to you for guidance and support, even if that someone is you. During the hotel acquisition, there were roughly 120 employees who needed guidance and reassurance. They were worried about the mass exodus of the executive team and were concerned that their jobs were in jeopardy. Even though Starwood brought in an interim GM, he and the team looked to me to make decisions and to move the acquisition forward.

As I look back over that time period, I can reflect on what I am most proud of and that was advocating for the team members who wanted to stay in their current roles and helping others get placed in their new homes within the Starwood family.

Leadership requires the uncomfortable. As a leader, we are charged to make difficult decisions. We are required to show up even when others do not. This is the time to shine not the time to shrink back. People still need you.

Ensuring that others are cared for reinforces key leadership principles. It demands us to show up and be present. When we waddle in self-pity, we will miss opportunities If you show up and remain present, we can assist others, not to mention model the way for those who are watching.  How we handle the uncomfortable can strengthen your influence.

What is your leadership showing others?

Results are still expected. Although you might feel like giving in to what is easy, you can't just stop. There is something that you can do to be productive. Your team, family, and friends are still looking for you to show up. They need you to be present and they need you to be results-focused. Whether you are furloughed, laid off or your business has just slowed down. There is still work to be done. Even if it is preparing yourself for what is to come.

The night before the close date, I sat in my office reviewing the final closing paperwork. I had been combing through it line by line and page by page all month to ensure that I had not missed a thing. The area DOF made an appearance almost daily to check-in, but offered little support but expected results.

Just like all seasons, this will pass and if you are prepared, then you will have a better transition back to work or back to "normal."

What could you be doing that you have been putting off?

In the midst of a turbulent season, don’t stop. Continue to push through because results are expected and it will benefit you in the long run.

There were at least 6 “suits” sitting in my office around 8 am the next morning waiting for the phone call to tell us whether or not the reports needed to be revised and to ask questions. There was representation from the ownership group, the current management group, and the new management group. It was nerve-wracking, to say the least.

When the phone rang, the voice on the other end asked, “Who completed these reports?” Everyone looked at me. “I did,” I replied, “What’s wrong?” My heart dropped. I felt the ball that was already in the pit of my stomach tense up. “Nothing,” he replied. “These are the cleanest reports I have ever seen. You are free to move forward.”

You could hear a pin drop in that room. All the men just sat there as though they were searching for the right words or trying to determine what was next. I broke the silence by giving directions on what needed to be done and ushered them all out of my office so I could work on closing the books for Starwood. One gentleman walked slowly, and turned back to me and asked where was I going after this, I simply replied, “Home.” He shook his head to redirect, “Neither company kept you?” I responded, “No.” Awkward. (LOL).

In the uncomfortable you will find that you are wiser than you know. Stronger than you could imagine. You just have to be willing to push yourself to continue to explore more. Just like every chapter of a great book, this is a new beginning, and you can control the narrative.

Life is filled with firsts. Some of them can be exciting and others, not so much. I found that my professional typhoon was an unusual season, filled with so many firsts and it gave me opportunities that I would not have ever experienced if I had been so eager to move on, or worse, had I been so consumed by the negative that I did not maximize the moments that were given to me.

  • It was the first time I was ever offered a job but in the same breath, the general manager suggested that I did not take it. 

  • It was the first time I prepared the entire hotel budget as an interim DOF and presented it to the area managing director and team.

  • It was the first time I had ever completed a hotel acquisition.

  • It was the first time I had ever been let go.

All of this happened in a 3-month period of time. Outside looking in, it was probably as though my career had spun out of control.

A month or so later, the area DOF called me to taskforce for a couple of hotels that were in transition. It was the first time I had ever signed on as a contract employee and hired in at a considerably higher salary than my ending salary.

Here is the thing, being uncomfortable is just temporary. For some of you who are reading this post, it may be the first time losing a job. It may be the first time you have experienced such a high level of uncertainty. Either way, don’t get devoured by the circumstances. Take this time and make the most of it.

  • How are you supporting others?

  • What are you doing to expand your knowledge?

  • What can you do to maximize the time that has been given to you?

How you handle this season can have a ripple effect that will last a lifetime. Adapt. Adjust. Don't just stare at the mystical creature of uncertainty trying to figure out what it is and what it could possibly do to you. Own your journey and shape your future. This is temporary. Remember you only have one story with multiple lessons. Use them to leave an impact that will last a lifetime.

Angela R. Garmon is the founder and business strategist at ARG Coaching & Consulting Group. She uses her 20 years of change management experience to help her clients build organizational performance and increase profits by focusing on three key areas: enhancing leadership effectiveness, building team cohesion and improving processes.


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