Overcoming fear and trusting your network

“Through multiple virtual events like SITE week, as well as SITE committees and chapters, we have shown each other incredible support and guidance as we all travel this unknown road together. Having that incredible network will continue to lift each of us up, no matter which “corona-coaster” dip or hill we’re on. It will be the key to our success” so writes SITE Foundation Trustee, former SITE President &Vice President of Sales at Motivation Excellence, Rhonda Brewer in this thoughtful, highly inspirational piece.

How many times in the last 4-5 months have you stopped and thought, do I have the virus?

Every time you cough, sneeze, have a sore throat or think you have a fever, you wonder, am I really sick?

Have you looked at someone who sneezed or coughed near you and started to internally freak out for yourself, your family, and those around you?

We know many have lost family and friends, and many have lost their income… there is a lot out there to be wary of.

I believe we are a society living, to a certain degree, in fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of the virus, fear of losing our jobs and fear of what we cannot control. Who would blame us for being scared?

Having been in the industry for more than 30 years and worked through several economic downturns, wars, bombings, natural disasters, 9-11, viruses and now a global pandemic, each event created a different kind of fear.  Financial fear such as, “how will this impact me long term?”, or job fear, “will I be able to retain my current job?” or “will my company survive?” There is also the destination impact and the worry about whether a destination will be able to come back from this, or how the meeting and incentive industry will be affected. Then there are the questions over what the future will look like and what can be done to prepare for it. Fear is real and for good reason. 

This time, the fear and uncertainty are greater than I have ever seen. New pressures have been added with the stay at home orders. Parents are now home schooling their children while working fulltime jobs! We are at home with constant access to social media and 24-hour news stations, the combination of which can often add to our anxiety and fear. Everything we’ve known about our jobs in the travel and event space has forever changed. Change is hard! We were settled into our routines and changing from that “norm” is scary and uncomfortable. That said, it can also be fun and exciting and can bring many opportunities.

When we get through this and look back, I promise, you’ll see that you’re stronger and smarter, and that you’ve grown both personally and professionally. Most importantly though, you are NOT going through it alone! Especially in our industry and in our strong community with SITE. We can always count on this incredible network of men and women to get creative, shift and embrace what the future holds. We’ll create what the new norm will look like together. Through multiple virtual events like SITE week, as well as SITE committees and chapters, we have shown each other incredible support and guidance as we all travel this unknown road together. Having that incredible network will continue to lift each of us up, no matter which “corona-coaster” dip or hill we’re on. It will be the key to our success. Cheers to our new best friends: virtual meetings and happy hours!

Virtual meetings definitely seem to be the mainstream for now. There is absolutely a place for them even in the post-COVID-19 future, but they are no substitute for face to face meetings. Having a live meeting, event or incentive builds emotional connections that last a lifetime and they simply must go on. I look back on the many experiences that I have had throughout the years and the incredible places that I have had the opportunity to travel through: The Americas, safaris in Africa, beautiful Kusadasi in Turkey, incredible cruises of all sizes, the Terracotta warriors in Xian, China, Rome, Dubai, India and many more. These experiences created lifetime memories and emotional connections you just can’t get over a computer!

Lastly, networking is an essential part of our industry and DNA. Whether it is walking through a tradeshow floor or attending a meeting or incentive, networking is how we all grow, learn and prosper. I can’t wait until we can all be together again to enjoy those spontaneous meetings over coffee, lunch or in a bar. Until then, we’ll keep meeting for virtual coffees and happy hours, reminiscing about our past travels and dreaming of the time we can all travel together again.

Please remember, even though our circumstances are keeping us apart, we are working through an incredible journey together. Have faith, we’ll meet up again stronger and more innovative than ever before!

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Rhonda Brewer is the Vice President of Sales at Motivation Excellence. Rhonda is also a SITE Foundation Trustee and was the 2015 SITE President.

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