My business tanked because of COVID-19. But it wasn’t COVID-19’s fault.

For the past two months, I’ve complained, whined, and cried to anyone who would listen that COVID-19 is the problem.

COVID-19 is stopping me from running my business.
COVID-19 is not letting me get on planes and stages.
COVID-19 is getting in between me and the business that I spent the past four years building.

It’s all the fault of COVID-19.

Maybe I’ve gotten political: it’s the fault of all those politicians who didn’t respond correctly.
Maybe I’ve gotten judgy: it’s the fault of all those stupid people who insisted on flying, cruising, spring breaking.
Maybe I’ve gotten personal: it’s the fault of all those neighbors who didn’t wash their hands or wear a mask or stay home when they were first coughing.

My business tanked, and it was all their fault.

Except it wasn’t.

It was — and is — my fault.

I am the problem.

In the midst of my rager of a two-month long pity party on which I gained the COVID-15 as I mainlined s’more after s’more after s’more melted over the fire of the burning ashes of a speaking business that was finally gaining warp speed momentum, I had a moment of clarity: COVID-19 isn’t stopping me from doing what I love, with people I love, helping them get unstuck and live limitless lives.

I am stopping myself.

I am stopping myself because I believed that the only way to do it is how I’ve always done it.
I am stopping myself because I assumed that stages and audiences only came in one form.
I am stopping myself because I decided — without any basis in fact — that I couldn’t possibly reach an audience bigger than the dream gigs with 5000 people hanging on my every word and without those audiences I couldn’t make an impact.

(Yeah, so maybe they weren’t hanging on my every word, but public speaking is scaryAF and you gotta self-talk your confidence like a badass boss bitch, in four-inch heels and an invisible Wonder Woman cape. Every single time. At least, I do.)

Trust Your Struggle and Own Your Problem

So here is the meta-moment: I was limiting myself by defining success in the way that it had historically been defined in my profession. And, I didn’t bother to get creative.

And I’m not alone.

Don’t worry. I’m not telling you to put down the s’mores or announce Last Call on your pity party. For me, it took two months. The time and space and emotional rollercoaster of it all was the alchemy my brain — and my heart — needed to get to this realization, for me, for now. I am better for that time. You might have gotten here sooner, you might not be here yet.

But, when you are ready, come with me on this little journey.

You do the work that you do because there is a specific problem that you like to solve. What if you could completely reimagine the way that you solved that problem differently, through a different medium or framework or rubric or methodology? What if you could redefine your “stage” and expand it well beyond what you thought was a big audience? What if you could show up in new and different ways that augmented what makes you special, so that you could be better for those people you love and the causes you hold dear?

The problem you and I are trying to solve isn’t COVID-19. We’ve got scientists and health care professionals for that. The problem you and I are trying to solve is the problem that we dedicated our work to before we’d even heard about the virus. The problem we are trying to solve still exists.

The problem now is that our imaginations are getting in the way.

My problem isn’t that COVID-19 tanked my business. My problem is that I was so distracted thinking COVID-19 was the problem that I didn’t realize that the problem was my own lack of clarity and creativity.

I am the problem. There was no escaping it.

There has never been a time where access to other people’s minds, hearts, and wallets has been so democratized. No one is stopping you or me from showing up and providing solutions but us and our preconceived notions of what our stages should look like. There is a whole new carnival in town with all sorts of new rides, and the price on entry is a webcam and an internet connection.

For me, I’m asking myself several questions:

What is the calling I want to serve?
What is the work I can do to connect to that calling?
What is the most effective medium through which I can do so?

The answers to those questions is nothing but clarity.
The answers to those questions is nothing but creativity.
The answers to those questions is nothing but limitless possibility.

This is my path forward. What’s yours?

If you like this, and want more of it, come find me at


  • Laura Gassner Otting

    Speaker, Author, Entrepreneur, Motivator, & Instigator

    Limitless Possibility

    Laura Gassner Otting is a motivational keynote speaker, bestselling author, and in-demand executive coach.  She inspires people to push past the doubt and indecision that keep great ideas in limbo because her presentations make listeners think bigger and accept greater challenges that reach beyond their limited scope of belief.  Laura dares listeners to identify their voice, and generate the confidence necessary to tackle bigger-than-life challenges while exploring innovate ways of leading, managing, and mentoring others. She is the author of the Washington Post Bestseller Limitless: How to Ignore Everybody, Carve Your Own Path, and Live Your Best Life. Want to live a limitless life?  Take her quick quiz at to see what’s holding you back, and what you can do about it.