My COVID-19 SFD is just one sentence long: My business will fail.

We all make up stories about why something is happening, and it usually revolves around us and our shortcomings. These stories are our SFDs (Shitty First Drafts) and often have gaping holes in them. I learned about SFDs (Shitty First Drafts) from author and researcher Dr. Brene Brown. Essentially, our SFDs are our secret beliefs about a situation, that when brought to light- are often dramatic and inaccurate. The trick is surfacing these narratives so they don’t paralyze you. 

In the Dare to Lead™ workshop, based on the research of Dr. Brene Brown, we invite participants to write an SFD about a situation they are in or have been in in the past.  The litmus test for a good SFD is:

  • It is honest
  • It is unfiltered
  • It is unedited
  • It is possibly unshareable

I often tell workshop participants to write the story as if their 13-year-old self was writing it. Once the SFD surfaces, and we actually write it down on paper, we can see it for what it is- a shitty first draft. Maybe some truths are there but they are distorted and out of order. When we see it on paper we can start assessing it, and even better, correcting it.  I know my business, as well as countless others across the country, is at risk.  However, I need to layer in some key facts my 13-year-old self left out and reevaluate my SFD.  Finally, I have to write my Delta. The Delta is what we learn during the rumble* when we compare the story we made up and the truth.  By rumbling* with our stories, we can find wisdom and meaning in the delta. 

Here’s what I came up with: 

My SFD: My business will fail

What I know is true: 

  • I have a history of steady clients and a strong track record of success.
  • My best leads come from referrals and I have a wonderfully diverse and rich network. 
  • Nonprofits still need access to grant writing and strategic planning support to ensure their long-term health.  Narratives and plans must adapt and pivot to reflect the recent and ongoing impacts of COVID-19. 
  • Having a clear vision alleviates stress on nonprofit leaders and helps unify team members. Compression Planning® and quality facilitation are exceptional tools for creative problem solving and decision making. 
  • The ability to face the unknown and make hard, and sometimes, unpopular decisions is literally a matter of life and death right now.  The Dare to Lead™ program is relevant and can give people reeling from this crisis specific, actionable tools to strengthen their courage muscle and build their resilience.  It also provides a safe space to connect with others, normalize our experiences and grow our self-awareness.  I can’t think of a greater gift to give shell-shocked teams and organizations a boost. 

Some of the emotions I am *rumbling with: 

  • Fear
  • Uncertainty
  • Anxiety
  • Grief
  • Vulnerability

My Key learnings:

  • When life changes, I don’t have to throw everything out the window.  My skill sets are still relevant, they might just need to be adjusted or redirected.  
  • I am not powerless. I can research, pivot and adapt. 
  • Fear stunts my thinking. The quicker I can process my fear and accept it when it cannot be changed, the sooner I can engage in creative problem solving and innovate.
  • Regardless of whether or not I continue to be a small business owner, I can be of service to others. Always. 

If you want help sorting through your SFD, you can schedule a free 30 minute call through Calendly. Putting my SFDs to paper has never failed me and this strategy has been a constant companion in my self-employment journey. Indicate the meeting purpose is “SFD Processing” and that will prompt me to send you a worksheet to help you get started.  

Check out upcoming Dare to Lead™ workshops to learn more about the Dare to Lead™ tools.  

*Definition of a rumble or rumbling: A rumble is defined by Brown as a discussion, conversation, or meeting defined by a commitment to lean into vulnerability, to stay curious and generous, to stick with the messy middle of problem identification and solving, to take a break and circle back when necessary, to be fearless in owning our parts, and as psychologist Harriet Learner teaches, to listen with the same passion with which we want to be heard.


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