A few months ago, I was invited to speak in June during a one-day program for members of the Pennsylvania Bar Association on the topic of recovering from a catastrophe. Attorneys who attend will learn about the things they need to do should something devastating happen in their lives (an accident, caregiving for a loved one, a fire, whatever….)
About ten days ago, I heard from a dear dear friend that he has been diagnosed with a terminal disease. Prognosis, just a few months. I am devastated – my heart just aches for him, his family, and yes, for myself, too. And I wonder…. he is a small business owner…. what will become of his business and his clients?
Then this weekend, I was approached to review a new book, written by a doctor who, as a result of a devastating car accident in 2005, became a patient himself and dissected all that was wrong with his care. Included in his story is the fact that he has given up his thriving practice of gastroenterology, a practice which had to take a back seat as he recovered from his injuries.
Which is when (yes, I’m slow….) I realized that the universe was telling me something. Or at least posing this question: As advocates, as people who others rely on, how prepared are WE for devastation in our lives and, importantly, how that will affect THEM?
How many of us have a Plan B?
If something happened to you, if you all of a sudden, with little or no warning could no longer do your advocacy work, what would happen next?
- How would your clients be notified?
- Could anyone else access the records you have kept on them?
- Can someone else get into your email to check it, and to respond when necessary?
- What if your phone rings and it’s a potential client…. Does someone else know what to tell them?
- Who else needs to be notified> Vendors? Accountants> Virtual assistants?
And of course, the list goes on and on….
We all need a Plan B – a Crisis Plan. If you suffer a crisis or catastrophe, how will the people who need to know be notified, and how will those around you – business partners or employees or even family members if you’re a sole practitioner – handle that crisis on your behalf?
I suspect that some of the advocates among us even have clients who are facing this question now… but have you faced it for yourself?
I know – we all think this is something that only happens to someone else. But sometimes it does happen to us. I’ve actually been there before – when I was diagnosed with terminal lymphoma in 2004. I still owned my marketing company then. My devastating news didn’t stop me from working completely, but you can bet your boots I was semi-paralyzed. Clients waited. I didn’t tell them about my diagnosis. I did make sure my adult daughters knew where to find passwords, and where my client list was (I wasn’t married at the time) – but all in all – I did not handle it well. Mostly I just did not handle it – period. I played ostrich and stuck my head in the sand.
Today I’m wiser, and when the universe is so d*mn obvious – I hear it! I have committed to myself that I will have a Plan B in place before the week is out. I suspect I may even sleep a little easier knowing it’s developed and the right people in my life are aware of it.
How about you> Do you have a Crisis Plan in place?