Turn off the Autopilot
Recently, I held the first face-to-face meeting of The White Box Club®—a career transition coaching group I founded in 2015—since the COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020.
When I started to plan for the meeting, I went into autopilot mode. “I remember how to do this,” I told myself.
In the past, I’d always provided coffee and pastries at the live meetings. I called my favorite coffee shop closest to the meeting location, but the phone just rang and rang. No answer.
Hm. They must be busy. I’ll just pick up coffee that morning.
Then I went to find my meeting materials and equipment—which were always located in the same storage closet—I was reminded that I’d reorganized that space two different times since 2020 and the materials were no longer there.
Hm. I’ll need to look around—which ended up taking three days and discovering materials in four different places.
The morning of the meeting, I loaded up the car and set out in my usual direction, but due to road construction, I had to take an alternate route.
Hm. No worries, but it would impact my travel time by a few minutes, and I like to be punctual. Need to adjust.
When I arrived at the coffee shop, it was gone! And the space was now a gift shop. Hmpf. That explains why they didn’t answer their phone.
So, I went back on the road, to more road construction, missed a few turns, but finally found another coffee shop up the street.
It was at that moment I had the realization that it was time to “turn off the autopilot.”
Whereas in the past I knew my routine so well that I didn’t even need to think, that was no longer the case. Enough things had changed over the past 30 months and I needed to stay awake and pay attention.
Things are different now. But I didn’t let it break my stride.
5 people attended that first meeting—as opposed to the 30+ in the past—which reminded me of when I started the group over seven years ago. But it was wonderful! And we had the best discussions that morning. Our group had become a small cohort of intentional and deliberate thinkers.
Hm. That change feels great!
Now when I reflect back on that meeting, I realize how much of a small slice it was compared to what’s happening to everyone on the planet. All of us are having to re-program our brains and re-create our previously-stored routines, plans, and “inner maps”… and it’s going to be a while before we’re back on track.
How do we rise to the challenge? Emulating the motto of the Round Table, we “Adopt, Adapt, Improve.” We take baby steps. We integrate. And we do it one day at a time.
With time and patience, new paths and plans will unfold. And then, eventually, we will create a new autopilot.
Michael Thomas Sunnarborg
P.S. Curious about re-mapping your inner maps? Book a free chat with me at connect.michaelcreative.com and let’s explore the possibilities together.