Article by Sharon Kusterer | 1 August 2020
On a mid-June morning, I sat in my favorite Hollywood chair outside in our garden with my 11-year old Maltese, Nicky, sleeping beside me. The sun shone brightly as I admired all of the nature around me. Birds singing happily, the trees with their leaves swaying in the gentle breeze. Surrounded by this calm and peaceful ambience, I began to reflect on the last few months and the impact they have had on my business and life. It was back in mid-February this year when life as we knew it began to transform into something new and unfamiliar. From one week to the next, many lives were on the line and health workers were called to go above and way beyond their call of duty.
They were often the last ones to connect with those Corona patients in Europe and around the world who were kept isolated in understaffed hospitals while losing their battle against the virus. Here in Germany, most of us were in the comfort and safety of our homes and wondering how all of this could be happening so fast.
I had started my online business just a few months earlier and was ready to further apply my Neurolanguage Coaching® and Life Coach education to support English learners in improving their speaking skills on my new platform called “Power Talk.” I was very excited to take my first entrepreneurial leap from full-time teaching jobs in the corporate and private sectors to expand my business online to reach a larger and more international audience. Then the Corona virus hit and we went into social distancing and various stages of lockdown.
There was great uncertainty, workers were sent home, and on-site company courses were cancelled indefinitely. Zoom soon became the sole platform to continue the existing language courses that I was in the midst of teaching when it all began. Now looking back, this was a blessing in disguise. In one company, my contract wasn’t due to finish until mid-April, so I proposed to the company manager that my groups go online in order to finish the lessons of the current courses. The students were unhappy about the idea of meeting online, but since there was no other option available, most agreed and we were able to finish on schedule. I later discovered that many of my other coachees were also not eager to go online because this required some level of technical skills and for some, this would prove to be way out of their comfort zone and quite intimidating.
One client of mine, Susanne, a 71-year old widow, told me straight away that she would never go online to learn English. She told me she was too old to learn something new, and technical skills were not something she had a desire to improve on. In light of the current situation, I asked her how this choice would affect her life, and after a short consideration, she told me she would feel further isolated and alone and decided to give the online sessions a try. Not wanting to miss out on her weekly lesson in a group she had enjoyed being part of for the last 2 years, she begrudgingly showed up for our first online session and struggled to stay engaged for most of the session.
The next time went more smoothly for her and by the third session, she had overcome her fear and adapted to this new platform. She went out of her comfort zone, and this was a huge leap not only in continuing her language learning, but also empowered her to make changes in her life. In subsequent coaching sessions, we discussed how the decision to go online had affected other areas of her life. She told me she was so inspired that she had set an intention to go out of her comfort zone regularly. She invited new opportunities and created new experiences, even changing her hairdo with a new stylist. New doors of opportunity began to open and where she once lived in survival mode, she stepped up to try new things that brought her the confidence and focus to not only meet her goals but also create joy in her life.
A second client, Birgit, an administrator at a large production company, had always been fearful about speaking English with her other management colleagues. But with the pandemic, her fear increased to another level. Fortunately, she continued her lessons online and through compassion and powerful questioning she could release her fear and move forward. In the end, she gained the ability to move out of it and focus on taking the action steps to reach the goals she had set to improve her English. Covid-19 not only enhanced my learning curve in the creation and transition into an online business but suddenly became more powerful than I had ever imagined. Both Susanne and Birgit made conscious choices to face their fears and challenges, go out of their comfort zones and become empowered with a vibrant new mindset where new and exciting opportunities awaited them.
As I mentioned earlier, this pandemic has had a significant impact on my own growth in both my business and personal life. Staying active and engaged in keeping my business growing definitely has its challenges, especially during these times. Having to step back from the busy daily routine, where I could take the time to “smell the roses” (which, by the way, I continue to do as often as possible), created room to step up to the technical and marketing challenges that had previously left me overwhelmed and weighted down. I expanded my knowledge through more coursework on producing videos, podcasts and public speaking. I also surrounded myself with mentors and like-minded coaches who could answer my questions and offer support leading to more growth and successful problem-solving. This time also allowed me to finish my requirements for the ICF ACC Life Coach certification and be part of an online event in collaboration with 17 other coaches called “Turn Your Fear Into Fuel.” My days are filled with my coaching sessions, my online conversation courses, coaching events, and building my first podcast and blog. There is certainly never a dull moment in the life of an entrepreneur and the pandemic has allowed me more time to focus and create the business I have always dreamed of.
Finally, despite the uncertain times and challenges of social isolation due to the Corona virus, I noticed that the value of my relationships has grown to be more meaningful with lots of new connections. I am grateful and appreciative for every single moment that I have with my coachees, my mentors and peer supporters, and of course, my family. This pandemic has offered us a time of reflection and a new appreciation of ourselves and others. Perhaps most notably, it has shown us the importance of love, respect, connection, and the willingness to try new things in our world today. It is my belief these golden nuggets hold the key to shaping a brighter future for humanity.