Living and Learning in a Time of Change an ongoing series featuring women leaders, founders, makers and executives. These interviews are focused not on those that are used to a media spotlight, but by those who can benefit by having some light shone on them to support, lift up and get through to the other side.

Welcome to the ongoing interview series of women founders, makers and executives talking about what is changing for them right now, including: how the economy, social distancing and new “new” are changing their jobs and lives. This is one part documentation for our future selves to reflect on and one part helping people right now when they need it most.

Meet Tanvi Gautam, M.D., owner Leadershift Inc, author of “The Spark Lies Within: And other secrets of women leading inspired and authentic lives” and who resides in Singapore.

At the time of this post, there have been 313 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Singapore and, like most places in the world, it’s impacting their daily life, community and economy.

SE: What has changed most significantly about your daily work routine in the last few days/weeks/months?

TG: Human interaction is on an all time low. Online interaction is on an all time high. Main challenge is how does social distancing not become psychological distancing, so I daily reach out to at least two friends and two clients to check on them. No agenda except to find out if they’re okay.

SE:  What are the new routines you’ve integrated to ensure you still meet other personal needs (emotional, spiritual, exercise…)?

TG: I am going to the gym and for walks more regularly because I think of all the people who can’t leave home and now see the privilege it is to even just walk about and see a sunset.

I am relying on sleep meditation as I cope with travel news from my global family and a constantly shifting landscape of daily news. Borders closed, excess inspections. It is not just first hand stress but second hand stress one is under. Emotionally I keep a writing schedule and a creativity schedule to keep me reminded that it is the darkest before the dawn and normalcy will return. 

I started noticing the anxiety being created by the global spread of the virus and the hysteria being shared online. While in Singapore we have been dealing with this for a while and gotten over our collective anxiety to some level, other countries are just waking up to it. So for them they still have to go through the shock-fear-anxiety-cope cycle. So I disengaged from social media on my phone and now only get to it mindfully on my laptop allowing me to exhale. Understanding what I consume allows me to be aware and responsive but not overwhelmed has been a key learning.

SE: What’s a pleasant surprise or something you discovered because of social distancing?

TG: Community on whatsapp is stronger than ever. We are looking at the good in humanity. It is a chance to teach my child the people we can be even in a crisis situation and even at a distance.  I have also had time to think more deeply about my new online program that was likely waiting for a day like this, “The sacred pause: A return to yourself to allow everyone to hit reset and ask themselves what really matters and who they came onto be on this planet”. The quiet is allowing a deepening. 

SE: What has been the most frustrating change?

TG: Random cancellations by corporate companies who had committed to work with me. They have no idea what it means to run a solo business. For them it is a blip on the radar but for entrepreneurs like me, it means a hit to the bottomline. Also this hoarding mentality is difficult to deal with. As a family with food allergies our options are already very limited. 

SE: Have friends, family or co-workers changed the way they communicate with you?

TG: A lot of communication has shifted online. My family is on four continents and providing emotional support, even at a distance, has become key. Learning to honor the anxiety of people while helping them move past it is a skill we are all learning fast. I make it a point to leverage my social media influencer status to keep people reminded that this too shall pass and what resilience looks like in the age of disruption. 

SE: What gives you hope?

TG: There is not a recession that lasted forever. There is not a Pandemic that did not come to an end. This too will pass. What matters is if we reached for our highest version as we walked together in this crisis. If by action in my faith and courage I can inspire one more person to do so then we all have hope.