Hello! How are you doing? For me, last week was a challenge. Almost everyone I have spoken to in the last couple of days has found the week a tremendous challenge. The many responses to my post of a picture of the calm of the river near home after a long day was a hint that others needed some extra calm too. Maybe we are more reactive to a spell of poor weather than we normally would be? Maybe there are other new challenges that, all coming together, have knocked us a little.
Maybe the layers of political, social and ethical debate we are all having has a toll. Maybe it is the uncertainty of when businesses, clinics and salons can safely open, worries such as what PPE is needed, what tests can or cannot be done and by whom, will it be 2m or 1m for the distancing, and wow! What a difference that metre could make to businesses.
Maybe the reality of choosing whether we can form a bubble with someone is hard; choosing to bubble with A means neglecting B, and the resulting long-term impact on certain friendships will echo for years.
I have even found writing this blog to be more of a challenge than usual this week. I have sat and stared at this screen for a while, typing and deleting, typing and deleting, failing to achieve anything approaching a sentence worth re-reading myself, let alone sharing with others. Having been brought up on the 'If a job's worth doing, it is worth doing well', attributed to Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, I am determined to create something that serves a purpose. My mother, in her delightful, contrary way, also brought us up to consider G K Chesterton's version of the same quote: 'If a job's worth doing, it's worth doing badly.'
So, with that in mind, I have decided just to get on with it. Having turned to Google for a little push in the right direction, I found myself looking up 'challenge' in the Cambridge Dictionary. There are four definitions, so to structure my thoughts, I have allied my tips to the definitions:
Challenge Definition 1: The situation of being faced with something that needs great mental or physical effort in order to be done successfully and therefore tests a person's ability.
2020 has not been as expected. Ha! That is one of the greatest understatements I have ever written. At AestheticSource, we had some great plans, some exciting product launches, some ambitious ideas for 2020 - all on hold. The challenges of planning our next steps, as with any business, is that the future is now even less predictable than ever. All of us are in uncharted waters. For me, this means the mental effort of shaping our business, balancing the needs of the business, the needs of the team and demands of suppliers. I have pages of mind maps, feeding ideas in as I think, drawing out the impact on other areas of the business, slowly but surely forming plans to share with colleagues before firm decisions are made.
Tuesday Tip 1: On a blank piece of paper, write down every idea, however random, small or daring. Set it aside, and then in an hour or so, come back and review. I think of this as 'building dreams'.
Challenge Definition 2: An invitation to compete or take part, especially in a game or argument.
Back in the '80s, at school, I was given the role of proposer in a debate. The subject: It is better to travel than to arrive. I was not happy, because to me arriving was obviously the better option – journeys are there to be got through. Then I prepared my argument. Ah! I was wrong! Every time I looked at the counter-arguments, I convinced myself even further that the journey, the experiences along the way, the adventures that are possible outweigh the arrival at a destination.
Tuesday Tip 2: Be prepared to see things a different way!
Challenge Definition 3: Asking if something is true or legal.
Oh dear, this is a rabbit warren of a challenge, so much to say! Watching the news, reading the papers, listening to the radio, trawling social media – at the start of lockdown, I was challenging everything I saw and heard. Everything. Every subject. It was exhausting. Frankly, it had a negative impact. I haven't stopped reading; I need to know what is going on, I have a responsibility to keep abreast of the news, however, I now limit my time strictly, and focus on one or two core issues at a time.
Tuesday Tip 3: Don't allow yourself to be overwhelmed by all the choices you have to make.
Challenge Definition 4: An invitation to do something difficult, funny, or embarrassing, especially on social media, often as a way of raising money for a good cause.
I set myself a challenge at the start of lockdown, the challenge of writing a blog each week – not a 'how to sell skincare' blog, nor a 'how to run an aesthetic clinic' blog, but a personal sharing of experiences blog. I haven't done it to raise money, but as a challenge to myself to be open, to share my thoughts, to engage in debate. Thank you to everyone who responded since I started writing, and particularly to my blog last week, my admission of clumsy questions around skin of colour. I am so happy to hear from various people that there are amazing ideas and plans in progress for some great education, and some opportunities for open and positive discussion. I intend to continue to write about this subject to drive an inclusive agenda.
Tuesday Tip 4: Be brave, be prepared to bear your soul to others and share your experiences – you will touch people when you least expect it.As always, I wish you all luck, do reach out to me if you want to talk through any ideas, and most of all, stay safe and stay well.