Most of us have had our personal and work world shaken over the last few days. As human beings, we aren’t naturally hard-wired to handle dramatic change in a short period of time. As leaders in our homes, communities and organizations we know that we will persevere through this unique time in history. I am convinced that many creative concepts and positive societal initiatives will emerge as we find different ways to cope, communicate and enrich the lives of others.
[00:00:09] JL: Welcome to today's edition of DHG’s GrowthCast. I'm your host, John Locke. At DHG, our strength lies in our technical knowledge, our industry intelligence, and our future focus. We understand business needs and are laser-focused on company goals. In this ever-changing world, DHG's GrowthCast provides insights and thought-provoking conversations on topics and trends that address growth opportunities and challenges in the current and future marketplace. Thanks for joining us as we discuss tomorrow's needs today.
[00:00:42] ANNOUNCER: The views and concepts expressed by today's panelists are their own and not those of Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP. Always consult the advice of your legal and financial professional before taking any action.
[00:00:59] JL: Today's guest is Bob Kunkle, Director of Executive Coaching and Development at DHG. Bob is a PCC ICF-certified coach and has coached professionally since 2003. He received his economics degree from Florida State University, and Bob recently relocated to Charlotte from Greenville, South Carolina with his wife and two young children.
[00:01:24] BK: Thanks, John. I'm really happy to be here.
[00:01:26] JL: Well, Bob, I'm thrilled to have you on this GrowthCast podcast today to discuss a topic that I know it's very important to you and I as coaches, and that's thriving in this new and somewhat we hope temporary world. When we look at this, you and I have talked a lot about strategies that we could help some of our staff and executives with here at DHG, and we came up with three strategies that we want to talk about today. There's a lot of things that could be done but maybe the first question is why three strategies.
[00:02:05] BK: Well, I think that when you're looking at a very transitional space like a life event or something like what we’re going through as a globe today but you got to make it doable. You have to be able to cut through some of the things that will clutter your thinking about how do I approach this. Is it too big for me? How can I own some of this and really create some action for it?
When we think about three strategies, we’re thinking about thriving in a way that we can have some intention and build some action toward. That’s what it means to me.
[00:02:39] JL: Well, you and I are both living in a brand new world. Most of us and probably many of our listeners are working at home for the first time, dealing with distractions, trying to find new routines, and figuring out a way to really focus on the things that are important to us. But in the midst of all of this, we’re getting a lot of mixed messages from social media, from cable news, etc. Why don’t we just take really our first strategy and talk through this a little bit?
The first one that we came up with today to discuss with our listeners is transition versus trauma, and especially when we think about our word choices that we use to describe today's current environment, yes, it is different. Yes, it's uncertain. But it’s easy to fall into the trap of using terminology that can create anxiety. What are your thoughts on that, Bob?
[00:03:38] BK: I think our language is so powerful, and it has the ability to lift us up or tear us down and it’s one of the few things in life that we can actually control. When we think about the framing of the experiences that we have, we have some significant control over that by the words that we use, so we tell ourselves what we believe. Often it's not the other way around. It's what we hear ourselves saying is generally what we’re going to embrace, so it's important for us how we use our language and how we frame our experiences with our mouth.
[00:04:20] JL: We need to think about that before we say the words, right? It’s so easy for us to get caught up in a lot of especially this media, intense dialogue around panic, crisis, catastrophe, disaster, drastic measures. I mean – Again, it’s not that those words are inaccurate, right? I mean, they can apply. But how does that really serve us day in day out, especially when we’re rationally, trying to make decisions maybe explaining things to our children? I know you have two small children. How important is that to you as you're trying to help your children understand this new world that we’re living in today?
[00:05:07] BK: Yes. I mean, the idea of fear is a really big deal, especially if you have young kids. The last thing you won’t be doing is creating a world for them with your words that looks scary and the thing you would be afraid of. The best gift that I can give to my kids or people around me is to use different language that recognizes that there’s something that I need to pay attention to and at the same time speaks the truth about what am I going to do to enter into this. Am I going to cower down and be afraid?
Well, I certainly don't want to teach my kids that. What I want to teach them is, “Okay. Accept the things that are that you can't change and then take ownership of the things that you can control and do, and focus your energy there.” That way, they can live an empowered life, and anyone around me I would hope the same thing for them and I would hope people do that for me too.
[00:06:03] JL: That's wonderful. I remember going through a coaching program a few years ago and I know you're familiar with Judith E. Glaser’s work, Conversational Intelligence. I would highly recommend her book. It was a fantastic experience that really reframed all a lot of the thinking that I have about my word choices just in my everyday life. A phrase that she used has resonated with me and especially in this era, is our words become our worlds. Wow! How powerful is that?
[00:06:37] BK: Yeah, really.
[00:06:38] JL: Think about also in kind of a little bit of a transition, the words that we are exposed to from media. We got to be careful with that. Don’t we, Bob?
[00:06:52] BK: Yes.
[00:06:52] JL: I mean, how much we get exposed. I mean, we’re adults, right? How much we are exposing ourselves to and our kids too. The stuff is just coming at us through both social media and cable news and some of this local news we need to pay attention to. What might be some of your thoughts on how much of that is enough and how we could put some parameters around that?
[00:07:14 BK: I think that the fact that we can use what we hear as a trigger to take action or to dig in to understand something better. Then after that, leave it lone because we need to know the big things, like we need to know if the House or the Senate just passed some big bill that really has some significant impact. We need to know what happened. We also need to know if some big event in the world happened like this virus that’s spreading through the world. We need to know what happened, and it’s present.
But we don't need to dig in and dwell upon it and feed upon the things that are present with the challenge itself. We really need to think about what can we take control of here. What's really actually important for me at this moment, so we can take action, create some movement in our insight that what we believe about this, how we’ll own it, how we’ll move through it intentionally, and how we’ll actually learn from it.
So think about things like that the experiences themselves that this is a transition. This is not permanent. Certain things might become of new normal and that's fine, because that's happened through the centuries because we form a new normal that’s based on some of the events that happen in the world. But they're not permanent. It’s not a permanence to a failure in our lives. We have the opportunity to look at it as an opportunity to grow, to understand more, to learn. Those are the things that we really can focus on.
[00:08:47] JL: Yeah. I know for me, I am really focusing on my language as I'm just talking to people every day. I fall into that trap. I listen to a news broadcast and all of a sudden I'm using the words crisis, pandemic, and all these things that are, again, not inaccurate.
[00:09:08] BK: You’re right.
[00:09:08] JL: But they're not useful either. That's kind of the thing, and so here are a couple of things I wrote down that I'm trying to work on, and maybe you have a couple too, Bob. Unprecedented times, transition area period, temporary environment, family work adjustments, precautionary measures. Any other words pop into your mind?
[00:09:35] BK: Yes. I would say probably in a more positive sense the opportunity to experiment and to learn, which I said a little bit a moment ago. I certainly see all these others. Transition is a big one because life is about transitions. We’re constantly going through some kind of transition, and there's nothing wrong with that. We were okay with that fact.
[00:10:00] JL: Wonderful. The second strategy that we've been talking about internally here at DHG is the opportunity really to recalibrate and reconnect, because let's face it. Our previous lifestyle, we had these wonderful daily interactions with people in person and routines to go to the gym, to be in the car with our kids, have these wonderful conversations, and everything. But all of that has changed dramatically. But the truth of matter is, is that this will end at some in point time. Physical isolation is mandatory for a short period of time, but it’s really just temporary. Bob, how can we be better at acknowledging this and then understanding the importance of striving for a healthier state of connection in this new normal?
[00:10:56] BK: Yeah. Well, first of all, to name it, what’s new here, what's changed here, what's different, what feels different, what do I understand that I didn't before. It’s recalibrating is the word that you used I think, and that's what I'm talking about here is recalibrating. You got to look at reality as it is today. [inaudible 00:11:17] what you’ve – Or notice. What is it I'm noticing right now, because it becomes an opportunity, and that then we can begin to reconnect in a way that's a realistic or authentic to the environment.
We’re not trying to believe something that’s just not true anymore. It's okay. We can accept what is true now but we need to be noticing what they are and then reconnect with it in an intentional way that recognizes the realities.
[00:11:46] JL: Yeah. So really naming it for what it is. I think there's different areas of our life that we can translate this into. After we’ve named it, practically deal with it. The first one that comes to my mind is family. I mean, we are – Most of us, again, really getting close with our families.
[00:12:06] BK: Yeah. This is the truth.
[00:12:09] JL: What might be a few things that you found helpful already and that we as professionals and businesspeople really should start thinking about as becoming intentional with our family to help us really feel good about this environment and moving forward?
[00:12:25] BK: Yeah. I think of the word ritual comes up for me. There are certain things that maybe we didn't have as a ritual before. An old ritual for many people throughout the world has been that we always ate dinner together. That's changed over the years quite a bit. But in this current situation, many, many, many people have moved back to having dinner together or to intentionally spend time outside together a certain part of the day. Obviously, they’re together. They’re not around a whole bunch of other people but they’re together in this unique way that they haven't maybe experienced in a long time. We can create some rituals because of the environment that we find ourselves in that can be long-lasting.
[00:13:10] JL: And be intentional about utilizing strategic time throughout the day as we work more at home to connect with our loved ones, right?
[00:13:21] BK: Yeah.
[00:13:21] JL: I mean, put on your calendar, “30 minutes I'm going to go for a walk with my kids or I'm just going to take a break.” I need that emotionally, because that’s not going to happen just by chance as it used to when we walk down the hall.
[00:13:34] BK: That's right.
[00:13:35] JL: In our office environment. Really both indoor and outdoor activities, I love this whole thing of creating rituals and routines. I think we need to understand that our family’s going through this with us, and we want to help them get through it as well as we want to embrace this I think as a family as well.
Personal health is a big deal. Most of us had some kind of knowledge around how important this is going into this new time. But, hey, it's changed now. Getting out early in the morning and going to the gym before work is not an option for many of us. When I think about it, one of the things that's really on my mind is get up and move every day.
[00:14:16] BK: Throughout the day of –
[00:14:17] JL: Throughout that day, yeah. How important is it to move and take exercise breaks? I've talked to some people recently who are saying, “I’ve got 30 minutes in my midmorning and 30 minutes in my afternoon that I am focused on movement and exercise, whether it’s in my office or outside. If it's raining, I got to do it inside. But I do jumping jacks and squats.” Well, you know what? That’s really important for both mental clarity, problem-solving, capability, and creativity. No less just having the mental focus to get things done.
We are now involved virtually every day with our teams that we used to sit by in the office. Some thoughts that you might want to share, Bob, with how we can better work with these virtual teams during this unique time in life?
[00:15:02] BK: Yeah. Being more frequent in the way that we connect with each other. Small bits but more often and we use things like face-to-face encounters that are not in person. This idea of using video and conference like Zoom, for instance, if I'm allowed to name one since we use that one a lot, but really being intentional.
I spoke with a client yesterday that has talked about the fact that he spends more time with his people from his office now that he's not in the office. He’s spending probably three times as much time interacting with his people because of the environment that we find ourselves in and he's loving it.
[00:15:43] JL: Wonderful.
[00:15:43] BK: He said, “I've never spent this much time with my people, and we’re just thriving.”
[00:15:49] JL: That's great. As we kind of wrap up this, talking about really prudence versus panic, which is kind of our third strategy, we need to prepare appropriately for our work environment and our home life. We know this is going to be here a while and we’re getting recommendations every day from our government leaders. Indeed, these are unprecedented times, but it's so easy to get caught up in just almost this panic mentality and every once a while seeing a photo of stores out of stock or whatever. What advice might you have for us as professionals and leaders of our families to maintain a better perspective on being prudent and not panicking?
[00:16:38 BK: Well, it's maintaining that sense of I have some control here. I'm in charge of my life, and there are certain things that I can do. I look at my lifestyle. I have control over that. I look at how I think every day, how I set up my day. I think about that. I think about being wise and asking myself questions in support of that like, “What’s the wise approach here or what do I know about the different options that I have right now because we always have options?” I don't need to panic. I just need to take control.
[00:17:15] JL: Well, we could talk on this subject for hours. There’s so much rich content and wonderful ideas that we could share. But I think for today, what we would just want to encourage you is to think really holistically about this new world and how you can help yourself and others thrive.
Bob, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you taking time to be with us today. It’s been wonderful. [inaudible 00:17:40] with this.
[00:17:40] BK: [inaudible 00:17:40].
[00:17:41] JL: Yeah. It’s been fun and I look forward to future opportunities for us to collaborate.
End of Interview
[00:17:48] JL: You’ve been listening to the DHG GrowthCast today with our special guest and my good friend and colleague, Bob Kunkle. We hope that you will put many of these suggestions into practice in the days ahead. I'm your host, John Locke, and I look forward to reconnecting with you again soon on an upcoming episode of DHG GrowthCast.