There’s a National Cat Herders Day?
Did you know that there is National Cat Herders Day? Yep, there actually is a National Cat Herders Day (Dec. 15). Boy Howdy! Does that sum up how I feel about this year!
Whether business or personal, it has been a year of chasing our tails, getting into $#^!, and avoiding people (perhaps intentionally at first, and then since March out of necessity). I don’t know about you, but I am ready — excited even — to turn the calendar into next year. It’s about time we herded those feline terrorists and settled them down for a long winter’s nap.
2020 started with a bang for me. Having worked gonzo hours the second half of 2019, the effort came together with a signed agreement and ultimate closure on a big deal. It was a team effort that was simultaneously exhausting and energizing, and I knew that my efforts made a significant impact on who came to the table and how we got across the finish line. Like you, there was great momentum and energy. Like a super-charged, 12-week-old kitten, I felt it was going to be “The Year.”
Then the zombie apocalypse named COVID arrived and the kitten fell into a deep sleep in its tracks, hugging its cat dancer toy. A few months later, more changes came, and then more changes. It was hard to keep the thoughts, focus, and efforts corralled and in formation. The cats were all over the friggin’ place and forever bickering with themselves.
As an experienced cat and dog owner, bickering cats roaring around a house gets annoying. All the running, growling, hissing, and spitting — you have to get it under control and create a new order. And that was true for me as well, personally and professionally. Admittedly, I was struggling with all the change and, to some extent, still am. But I also relied on tools to get me through and herd the prrrrecocious, freaked out cats.
There are four specific things that made the difference for me, personally and professionally, that may resonate with or help you:
- “Make new friends and keep the old” — It’s a song from my youth and Girl Scouts. As I think about all of the new people I’ve met this year by virtue of Zoom networking, I am amazed. While the connection is digital, it is also real and powerful. As an extrovert in pandemic isolation, I found new channels to feed my need for people and interaction.
- Assess and reassess — In order to make the personal and professional shift given the changes that were forced upon me, I had to pause and reassess what was important, what I wanted, and what my new goals would be. This is true in life as well as business, and we can and should be doing this as a routine. Because it’s 2020, this time around was particularly special.
- Understand risk — When working with clients on preparing for the sale of a company, we focus on risk a lot because that’s what a prospective buyer or next generation owner is doing. The more risk is understood and managed, the more valuable the company may be. The same is true on the personal and professional level. I needed to pause, assess my situation, and determine where the strengths, vulnerabilities, and risks were. Like counting cats and figuring out who’s who in the zoo, the assessment helped form the plan of what could and should come next.
- Take action — This year taught me a lot about myself. When faced with the prospect of going from 100 miles per hour to zero, I freaked. Discretionary projects, like everything else, went into lockdown as business owners went into crisis mode, and rightfully so. I was stuck at home like everyone else. Inactivity and I do not get along well. I have to be busy doing something. Taking well-considered action is the most effective technique I know for managing a situation that is filled with fear and/or trepidation. It moves us from analysis paralysis. Whether big and bold or baby steps, taking action moves us forward.
During the lockdown, I turned to one of my hobbies and made masks. Like 800 and counting, all of which were donated. Later, I turned my attention to creating a new future for myself in the form of a new business, Provenance Hill Consulting. To say that launching a business has kept me busy is an understatement, yet it is a busyness with energy and direction, corralling the fear, anxiety, and frustration 2020 handed us all and putting it to good use.
I wish I could say all my cats are corralled but they’re not. Like you, I’m a work in progress. But I celebrated National Cat Herders Day 2020. You should too — even if you missed it on the actual date — because you are one bad@$$ cat herder!
P.S. The photo is of my feline terrorist posse. The smug tabby is the 8-month-old kitten instigator. The other — total tortitude.
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