By Kristine Steinberg, CEO of Kismet
“In the midst of darkness, light persists.” — Mahatma Gandhi
Several months prior to the onset of the pandemic, I started to become conscious of some emerging signals of stagnation in my work. Lower energy, scattered focus, and distraction that resulted in grasping at random ways to define myself — from starting meditation groups to targeting CEOs to consulting on business strategy. Looking back now, I realize that I had started to lose sight of my purpose. This is not abnormal for entrepreneurs and it has happened several times over the course of running my own business for almost 20 years. But it’s a hard place to be in when the essence of your service offering is to help people experience the opposite of this scattered, stagnant mode.
I knew I needed to make a shift. The year 2020 was going to be a fresh start. If you know me, you will know that I look for symbolism, signs from the universe, synchronicity, the hidden meanings in life, kismet…so, when we embarked on the year “20/20”, I was gearing up for a year that would surely symbolize and bring about clear vision, perfect sight, skillful discernment, and seeing things as they truly are. Guided by the light of that clarity, I anticipated the ability to advance on my path with conviction. As a business owner, mother, wife, and friend, I put clear plans in place to harness this clarity and enter a vigorous year of not only professional focus (renewed purpose in my work), but family adventures (a trip booked to Greece) and personal space to engage in hobbies (oil painting, silent retreats, and volunteer work).
On March 13th, 2020, I was traveling along the Oregon coast in a camper van with my youngest daughter when Trump officially announced that we were in a national state of emergency. Cutting our trip short and boarding the plane in Seattle was our first taste of the darkness ahead. As Covid hit, the grids of livelihood and life as we knew it shut down in all corners of the world. The human race was thrust into darkness, a state of isolation, confusion, fear, disconnect, and uncertainty. And over these past 14 months, even the strongest of the strong experienced the vulnerability that comes from living through a global pandemic.
Though I considered myself lucky to have a pretty good, tangible set up for lockdown (indoor and outdoor space, food, and general physical health), I immediately sensed the importance of ensuring my mental and emotional strength were kept intact. Shrinking corporate budgets and uncertain futures began to take a toll on my business, as client after client began to retract contracts. This, coupled with my recent lack of focus, created a recipe for a deepening feeling of fear. I began to worry, Would I lose my livelihood?
I needed to find my strength again, and I began to search for solutions. Reaching and grasping for the old ways of building a business — networking, phone calls, trying to make connections — provided no traction. I was left spinning. Then, an email hit my inbox from a company called CEO Coaching International. I normally don’t read blanket emails, but for some reason I decided to read this one.
This company’s approach to the pandemic was mind-blowing to me — they were giving free coaching sessions away to CEOs. I called to request a session. Gerry Perkel was the name of my coach. One session turned into several months of incredibly pivotal work. The coaching Gerry provided was awesome and high-end, but what really moved me to my core was his meta-state of selfless generosity — the giving away of his skills, talents, and knowledge.
I made the decision to emulate this gesture and started giving my services away to anyone who needed a session and by holding sessions for larger groups and teams that were struggling with pandemic-induced anxiety. As I doubled down on giving, helping, and caring for others, something was transforming in me. I started to become very clear about myself again, what I do, why I love it, and the deep purpose behind it. Without thinking about it, things began to crystalize. And with renewed courage, I decided to put myself out there again in a very real and authentic way.
And hence, the blog you are reading right now. I’m very uncomfortable sharing this kind of vulnerability with people and writing is literally a painful process for me. But through this sharing, I find that I’m connecting with people in deeper, more meaningful, and more exciting ways. By focusing outside myself, I was able to find myself again, and business has never been stronger — or more gratifying.
Navigating this dark path over the past 14 months has impacted our ability to live, work, think, relate, and enjoy life. On the surface of this experience, there is a heaviness that has penetrated our spirit, our emotional threshold, and our ability to cope and handle the stress and pressure that comes from watching old constructs, routines, lifestyles, relationships, and behaviors crumble around us. Looking deeper, though — perhaps this heavy and hard time was, in retrospect, the exact guide to clarity we needed, individually and collectively. I know it was for me.
With the light of Spring, together we emerge transformed by this challenging time. And as we step forward into this moment, we can choose to commit to renewal, hope, and progress. Let’s take the time to reflect on the kind of clarity that can only be gained by moving through the darkness of the unknown. And from that place, let’s plot our next moves.
Calls to Action:
- What has become clearer to you during the pandemic?
- What moved you or inspired you during this time?
- What new ways of living have emerged from this time?
- Who do you want to be and how do you want to show up differently?
- What is one thing you want to leave behind?
- When this is all over, what will your “after” look like?
This blog post is dedicated to Gerry Perkel, coach extraordinaire and generous human even more so.
Kristine Steinberg is the CEO of Kismet. She believes that your life should be deeply fulfilling — not tolerated. Partner with Kismet to dismantle fear, define your path, and lead with courage. Start your transformation today: www.thisiskismet.com.