With the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe, many feel anxious about life and death issues. People are struggling with a host of losses as they heed stay-home mandates, wondering how long this will go on and how bad all it is going to get. These uncertain times have also left a lot of entrepreneurs struggling with what the future holds for the businesses they have spent years building. 

A few weeks ago, I had a virtual meeting with my business and life coach. As we discussed the present circumstances, she shared a piece of wisdom that has helped me extend more grace and empathy for myself and others. 

“We are ALL currently experiencing some degree of grief. We have ALL lost something.” 

It’s Normal to Grieve Loss

My coach has been studying grief for the last couple of years, and she is right. If we are going to successfully weather these unsettling days, it’s important to acknowledge and grieve lost routines, social connections, family structures, business plans, and our overall sense of security. We need to recognize that the mixture of sadness, anger, disappointment, fear (and back again) is actually grief, and we are all in different stages of it. I’ve been wavering between sadness, anger, and frustration for several weeks now.

When left unrecognized and unattended, grief can negatively impact us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Does it feel as if you are losing your mind? That’s grief. 

What do we do during this time? 

First, we give ourselves GRACE. We give others GRACE. Global grieving requires AMAZING GRACE.

And then, we create new ways to move forward.

Believe You Can Survive

On September 11, 2001, the world watched as the twin towers were leveled to the ground in the greatest terrorist attack on United States soil. Like many of you, I will never forget it. 

I had just started JAI one week earlier, and suddenly the entire business world felt the blow from the devastation. Stock markets nosedived, and the hit damaged almost every sector of the economy. Would my small business even properly get off the ground?

Without much overhead and a quick shift in strategy, JAI picked up momentum and kept growing. What I didn’t know was, 9/11 was just a prequel to a bigger story. 

In 2008, the economy faced a financial crisis, which took a toll on many industries including both the hotel and the building industries. For a design firm that specialized in hospitality, we watched our clients suffer as travelers canceled or downsized planned vacations and businesses cut corporate travel expense accounts. 

JAI now had several employees and a substantially-sized office. What would the recession mean for us? All I could do was hold on and keep telling myself, “I just need to do this one more month.” The recession lasted 18 months. We made it through the 2008-2009 recession with no layoffs or furloughs and continued conducting business as usual. 

I remember telling someone, once we had weathered the worst of the storm, “Had I know at the start how long it was really going to last, I would have closed our doors.”  

Sometimes it’s good that we don’t get to see into the future.

Innovation Comes Through Adversity

Now here we are, staring another crisis directly in the face. None of us anticipated a global pandemic, and none of us have been through something like this before. 

Innovation often arises in periods of adversity.

COVID-19 pandemic may be creating such a change for you now. It is forcing many of us to slow down, to spend more time in personal reflection, away from the noise and heaviness of the world. With more quiet time, more privacy, more stillness, we have an opportunity to think about who we are, as individuals and business owners. 

During this time of stillness and isolation, we should listen and watch for new needs that are arising every day. Businesses and consumers are in need of new services, new products, new programs, new technology, new systems, and new solutions. 

This may be the beginning of a whole new path or journey for you. You just need to make it one more day…one more month…

“Do not miss today’s miracle by holding on to yesterday’s blessing.” 

-Pastor Steven Furtick

You Are Not Alone

Please know, you are not alone. We are all in this together. 

If you’re overwhelmed by all of the changes and how to operate your business remotely, please let me know. I was fortunate to walk that path without the additional stress of the pandemic and I learned a lot.

On January 31, 2020, JAI closed our brick and mortar office, donated our sample library, and launched our virtual office. It was a big shift, but it allows us to operate with top interior designers from Clearwater, Atlanta, and Brooklyn. 

The transition required a new cloud-based server, changing phone systems, purchasing additional laptops, investing in new and upgraded software programs, and strategically putting new systems in place. Little did we know, six weeks after our virtual launch, so many people would be forced to work from home. 

Change is always difficult, but we are here to help encourage you to keep going.

To our hotel developers, owners, and operators, as well as our loyal brands, architects, fellow designer friends, manufacturers, and sales reps–we love you and we are in this together.  Yes, we are all in survival mode right now, but we WILL survive. And, once we get through all of this, we will thrive again.  

We will come through this and be more appreciative, more patient, more grateful, more helpful, and more knowledgeable. Our character will be stronger, our hearts will be larger, our minds will be open. We will be rested and ready to go! 

And we will celebrate TOGETHER! 

Need More Encouragement?

If you are on Facebook or Instagram, feel free to send me an invite on my personal page, and follow JAI. I have been posting many uplifting messages, links, and videos to keep my friends and followers encouraged and connected. 

You can also read some of our most recent blogs here on our website. While you’re here, send a request to start receiving our monthly e-newsletter. 

I am praying that you, your family, and loved ones stay healthy and safe during this time. 

I will leave you with this verse: 

“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’

Remember…give yourself grace.