next normal

  • The Next Normal – Do We Just Get On With It?

    How is ‘the next normal’ looking for you? 

    As the lockdown rules change in the UK, how do you feel about the next few months? 

    Are you stuck? 

    What have you changed in your business model?

    Are you sick of video calls yet? 

    This week I want to share about how three months of COVID lockdown is working out for me. 

    It feels like an ongoing mix of triumphs and confusion, sitting down to write this to you got me in super reflective mood. 

    But I’m worried about something.

    It does worry me how this will land with you, which makes me more than a little concerned about the order of the words I type.

    The COVID crisis is working out in so many different ways for people, so if you’re in a tough time, I’m sorry if any of this seems futile. 

    My positive business friends share phases like ‘never waste a good crisis’ and are looking for ways to support each other. 

    Others are having to shut down because they can’t keep going. 

    How tough is tough?

    I’ve been on many calls where people share with me how they’ve shut their coworking space or lost their job.

    Others are in a central London flat homeschooling three kids with both parents working at home and getting cabin fever.

    It would be crap for me to say I understand how it is for everyone.

    And you’d know right away that I’m making that up, but it at least gives me access to another perspective. 

    My COVID experience has been hearing my wife’s day at work on one side and my coworking world on the other side.

    Why is clapping the NHS not a good thing?

    Because it undermines the poor working conditions, underfunding and low pay experienced by NHS workers. 

    As many of you know, my wife is a family therapist who works in mental health.

    You can watch this video of the ward where she works in Newham, London. 

    Her team are getting more young people admitted than ever before. 

    Meanwhile, everyone is out clapping, bashing pans and cheering on the NHS under the illusion we’re saluting the England football team in their darkest hour. 

    The reality is we’re cheering NHS people for doing a high-risk job for crap pay and are in denial about how their day is. 

    And a lot of people clapping (maybe even you) are furloughed on 80% pay, going to the beach or getting pissed in Soho.

    To be clear about the clapping thing

    This article here describes how we feel in our home – click here to read – I’m an NHS doctor – and I’ve had enough of people clapping for me.

    We’re sure that when you clap the NHS, it is with the best intention. 

    I’m not bitching about my wife’s pay packet, she is highly qualified, and her salary reflects this. 

    Confused and stuck

    What motivated me to write this is to share the confusion I had at setting 12 Week goals, even though my projects are more focused than ever. 

    But next to NHS workers and people losing their jobs, businesses and struggling with family loss and mental health, well I felt like I’m whining. 

    I spent a week walking around our home, forgetting what I was doing, having to read my task list three times in the morning before I got going. 

    The COVID lockdown and cabin fever was starting to hit me. 

    Just get on with it.

    I’ve read Viktor Frankl Man’s ‘Search for Meaning‘ and David Goggins Can’t Hurt Me, and both books have had a robust humanising effect on me.

    Both books are people in extreme mental and physical situations, who find a way to make it, against all the odds. 

    Last year I read the David Goggins book six times in four months when my Dad was ill and then died, on his 84th birthday!

    Goggins helped me connect with my Dad’s death and experience grief rather than drama. 

    Of course, you probably know the drama is often my preference, that is how good the Goggins book is. 

    Purple haze and becoming unstuck

    For two weeks, I’ve been in some haze, haemorrhaging energy and burning calories in my brain trying to work out my goals. 

    It was a real issue, that is why I’m writing about it here. 

    My three projects are: 

    Cowork Tools

    London Coworking Assembly 

    my site 

    I know where the revenue is coming from and what I’ve got to do to get there. 

    Why is it so hard to write down a goal for each of these?

    So that is what is up!

    At the end of last week, it clicked where I’m stuck.

    I was stuck because I don’t know what is going to happen.

    Work and projects have a map, but I don’t know what is going to happen in the world

    Of course, we never know what is going to happen, but now there is worldwide agreement ANYTHING could happen!

    I mean we have a global pandemic, and the horror of colonialism, institutional racism and routine police brutality are a mainstream conversation – who thought that would ever happen?


    How July – December usually happen

    July is the start of summer, and this year everything is on hold. 

    We go to our family in Vigo, Spain in August. 

    I have a birthday, and we come back then something happens.

    School starts; something else happens. 

    We do European Freelancers Week

    I go to Coworking Europe and another Coworking retreat.

    Then it is Christmas, so a trip to Poland, Argentina or Vigo to see family. 

    But right now we’re staying home for the rest of 2020.

    Now I know how to keep going.

    Back when I was super depressed, I went to therapy every Tuesday afternoon in Stratford.  

    About a year before we ended, I had a moment of realisation in my therapy session.

    I was not depressed any more, but I did not know what else to do. 

    My story, identity and even habit was ‘I’m depressed’ it was my narrative and operating system. 

    The moment occurred for me like when Neo stands up in the Matrix. 

    You know the part, Agent Smith shoots Neo like ten times, Neo dies, and Trinity kisses him. 

    Neo then stands up, becomes present to his ability and stops the next round of bullets with his hand. 

    The luxury of grief 

    I was due to end therapy, and we had a winding down period, and then my Dad died, so we carried on for a few more months. 

    Whenever I think back to last year, I wonder what would have happened to me if I did not have the luxury of the support and relationship of my therapist. 

    That therapy was about grief and making sense of the future, not depression, self-loathing. 

    We ended in January 2020, two weeks later, I went to Nashville to do the StoryBrand Guide training and hang out with my friends Maria and William. 

    Maria’s son was my mate Matija, the co-founder of European Freelancers Week; he died of cancer aged 34 in 2018 while we were working on Freelancers Week. 

    Matias is the guy sitting at the table in the header of all my social media profiles – he is still is a big deal for us. 

    That’s all for this post – stay safe and be excellent to each other.