It’s the start of April 2020 and the Corona Virus has created pressure all around us. Pressure produces Stress!

Sometimes we process stress ok, other times we can actually thrive in the midst of stress and if we are absolutely honest there are other times when all we are doing is just coping.

For just over two weeks now this crazy virus has brought all kinds of stress into our work lives, our home lives to the very way we normally live life.

Personally, I’ve tried many different things to cope and process in the midst of this unprecedented stress. I have watched a lot of Marvel Movies, snapped at my kids, had some very heated discussions with my amazing wife, watched snowboarding videos, drunk more than normal and consumed copious amounts of sugar.

There have been other times over the last two weeks where I have genuinely thrived in the midst of this mess. I have deliberately connected with ideas, situations and people who find ways to thrive amid mess. People who do the work and create the space to find wholeness despite what is going on around them.

Pressure and stress reveal the reality of our capacity to constructively partner with others. Pressure and stress also reveal our cracks and our flaws.

As part of our business I am a Strength Finders Coach and part of this is working with our staff and parent communities.

Quote- Gallup defines a Strengths based team as:
“A group of imperfect but talented individuals valued for their strengths, who need one another for individual and team excellence”.
Who is your team?
It can be our work colleagues, family, sporting teams and any group or collection of individuals can be a part of your team. They could be your neighbours in your street, state or nation.
I have come to define Strengths based teams as:
“Any group where we accept the imperfection of the individuals, find and place value on each other’s particular strengths and choose to connect as the way to really Thrive”
Messy Thriving is a show created to connect our staff and parent communities with the tools, ideas and people who Thrive in the midst of the Mess

Today we are going to look at Terrible First Times and look at some practical tips from Brene Brown on how to do this well.

Anytime we do something for the first time there is a level of discomfort and stress. With the challenges of Coronavirus, we are all going through multiple first times and our levels of discomfort and stress is being multiplied.

If we can learn to process and practically work through our stress of doing things for the first time, rather than run the other way or blowing up at a team member, we can take one big step along the journey to thriving.

So, who is Brene Brown and why should we listen to her?
In the last ten years Brene has become a world leader in thriving in the midst of mess. Brene is a brilliant storyteller who also happens to be a social work research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College. She has written four best selling books while also having one of the most watched TED Talks of all time (47 Million views at the time of writing).

In Brene you get the rare person who loves facts, the clear-cut data while also applying these facts practically to our everyday challenges of messy life. She also does this in an entertaining and fun way through her brilliant storytelling.

Today we are looking at a really practical idea from the episode FFT’s on her podcast Unlocking US

The podcast discusses all things Frickin First Times (FFT’s). Unlike in her Ted Talks Brene is more than comfortable using a few swear words in her podcast. She also offers up a child friendly version, TFT or Terrible First Times.

Brene has several great points around implementing this FFT idea. I am going to be unpacking what I got out of one of them today.

That is to Normalize the discomfort and stress of doing something for the first time.

When we can name something, it gives us the opportunity to process it and to work it through.

There is power in acknowledging that I am under extra pressure and that its normal in these situations to not be yourself. Its ok that you don’t have your normal capacity to deal with your regular life. Give yourself some grace when you are in the midst of an FFT and remember that you are just not going to be your regular self. The more FFT’s you are going through at the same time the more pressure you are going to be under.

Multiple pressures might look like a global pandemic that has changed how you work, do family life and even connect with friends all at the same time. That my friends is going to cause significant stress. So, use FFTs to put it into context.

For me this looks like talking to my wife about the fact that I am going through a few FFT’s at work because the coronavirus has caused some big changes to what this looks like. Naming it gives me power to talk it through and therefore process the pressure and stress that I am under. It doesn’t take away the pressure, but it does create a release valve to start to take some of the pressure down.

You might not be a verbal processer like me, but naming an FFT even just to yourself, gives you a context with which you can process internally the challenge that you are going through.

An additional FFT Lens
One of the lenses with which Brene looks at FFTs is to think about what this challenge will look like in 5 Hours, 5 Days or 5 Weeks. There are big challenges like the coronavirus that honestly I don’t know what they are going to look like in 5 weeks. What I do know is that I will have normalised and worked through most or all of my current first times. As I process what is happening through this lens much of the pressure is deflated.

Many of the smaller FFT’s that still cause significant pressure and stress become much more achievable when we look at them through the lens of the next 5 hours, Days or Weeks.

If you are wanting further ideas around FFTs In the video version of this blog I look at how using Strength Finders Domains can be another great lens to look at FFTs for different individuals. I then apply it to an FFT our staff are currently having with Doing Zoom calls daily for all our Children self-isolating at home.

So we would love to hear about how you process FFT’s. Is this idea one that you think could work in your life? Are there other ideas that are helping you to Thrive in the Midst of the challenges of the corona virus? Leave us a comment and let us know.

Brené Brown Podcast:
Brené Brown TED Talk: