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Navigating through times of uncertainty to your current reality

July 28, 2021

It’s time to retire the phrase “new normal.”  Many things are different as a result of the events from the past year, and “new normal” no longer needs to be stated.  I suggest replacing it with “current reality.” Whether you choose to use new normal or something else; there are some practical things that you can do right now to prevent getting stuck and help you be more successful in the current reality.

Embrace virtual learning and communication

When I think about the virtual landscape, the image that comes to my mind is the opening credits of The Brady Bunch television show, where all nine family members (including Alice) are on the screen and able to see each other. Who knew The Brady Bunch was ahead of its time? While virtual learning and communication is much more advanced than that, it is something that will be part of the current reality.

What can you do to embrace virtual learning now? Start by enhancing your skills. Many people are getting comfortable with virtual meetings and will want to continue this way of working. Consider signing up for an online course on how to improve your virtual presence with clients.

Click on the links below for videos to help improve your virtual experience with clients.

VIDEO: Create a More Personal and Engaged Connection with a Webcam

VIDEO: Walk Through Important Statements, Websites or Documents with Screen Sharing

Beyond the technical, mastering the webcam and screen sharing is only part of the equation for the current reality. The following soft skills will enable you to establish and deepen relationships whether you are in person or on a screen.

Listen deeply

There are three levels of listening: me, focused, and global. Global listening or level three is the deepest level of listening. Today’s climate requires that we rely on listening to an even greater degree. Stephen Covey’s fifth habit from his book, the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is “seek first to understand, then to be understood.”1 Real understanding comes from deep listening. Deep listening also helps to affirm the person you’re talking to and what they have to say. Reference my blog: 3 Habits to help Financial Advisors Connect More Effectively with their Clients, for more information on the importance of listening.

Ask questions

Listening and questions go hand-in-hand. In fact, your listening should provide insight for the questions you should ask; not surface level, or closed-ended, but rather insightful, solution-based questions that come from a place of genuine curiosity. The ability to ask the right question, at the right time, with the right motive is a powerful skill that builds understanding and leads to better client relationships.

Lead with empathy

Over the past year, many of your clients are facing job loss, health concerns, fluctuating retirement savings, and other uncertainties as a result of the pandemic. Try to put yourself in their shoes to understand what they are thinking, feeling and experiencing. Even if you can’t solve their problem, you should start from a place of empathy because it is the right thing to do. Your clients will also remember how you treated them during the past year. I’ve heard Kirt Walker; CEO of Nationwide refer to this as “extending grace.”

Value your time

Value your own and especially your client’s time. What does it mean to value time? It is being prompt, committing to being fully present when you’re with clients, eliminating distractions as much as possible, and, refraining from multitasking. Valuing your time is planning how you want to spend your day, not by default but by design.

Express gratitude

A study by the Greater Good Science Center found that the more people expressed their gratitude, the more overall positive emotions they experienced. Additionally, participants in the study experienced fewer physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches and congestion over a two-week period. 2 A quick and easy way to foster gratitude is to begin your day reflecting on three things you are grateful for.

Pause and take a breath

A recent article by McKinsey & Company addressed the benefits of doing this. Pausing and taking a breath is all about “giving yourself a moment to step back, take stock, anticipate, and prioritize.” 3 In case you’re wondering how long the pause and breath should be – not long. In fact, “50 to 100 milliseconds” (one millisecond equals one thousandth of a second) is all it takes to give your brain time to focus on what’s most important in the moment. 4

Seek opportunities to deliver extraordinary care for your clients

Nationwide’s focus is to prepare for and respond to potential impacts by taking steps to ensure we are ready to deliver on our mission to protect people, businesses and futures with extraordinary care. How will you deliver extraordinary care to your clients? Ask yourself these questions: what do my clients need now? And, what will my clients need in the future? Now is the time to think creatively and look for ways to go above and beyond the expected service you provide to your clients. Similar to empathy, your clients will remember not only that you met their needs, but also that you made them feel special while doing so.

Develop a growth mindset

A growth mindset, as defined by Carol Dweck, author of the book Mindset, sums up the difference between a fixed and growth mindset this way. The fixed mindset says, “I can’t do it.” The growth mindset says, “I can’t do it yet.” 5 A growth mindset feeds curiosity, builds resilience, and encourages continuous learning. What new skill or aspect of your job have you postponed learning? There is no better time than now to jumpstart your learning in that area because doing so will position you well for the future.

Devote time to self-care

Most important, devote time to self-care.  It’s easy to become distracted and forget to focus on you. Focusing on your own well-being, whether it’s exercising, eating healthier, or focusing on your development allows you to not only care for yourself but also the greater community.

What will your current reality look like?


  • 1

    Covey, Stephen R. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Simon & Schuster, 1989.

  • 2

    Scott, E. Desmond. “10 Reasons to Practice an Attitude of Gratitude (Besides, It’s Good for You!).” AxessPointe Community Health Centers, 9 April 2020.

  • 3

    Alexander, Andrea., et. al. “Decision making in uncertain times.” McKinsey & Company, April 2020.

  • 4


  • 5

    Dweck, Carol S. Mindset (The New Psychology of Success). Random House, 2006.