So the original premise of The Phoenix Project was finding a way to navigate the new normal in business (and in life) during and after the COVID-19 crisis, using the rebirth cycle of the phoenix as a model. Well, since I would label my most recent “set-back” as a personal crisis, it was a great opportunity to see if my theories on crisis navigation had any validity. So here’s my own theory in motion, as I worked (and continue to work) through this most recent crisis.

Phase 1: Reconstruction

Just like the Phoenix prepares for the inevitable end of her current existence, we must also brace ourselves for a change.

Key Themes: Calm, Care, Communicate

The murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, by a police officer in Minneapolis, MN brought a wave of emotion and outrage throughout the country and the world. Everything and everyone was consumed by the events that followed with protests, riots, and messages of all kinds from a variety of sources that “Black Lives Matter.” I literally froze. So many things in a very short time were changing all around me, and I had to take a step back before I moved forward. I ended up not moving at all.

Reconstruction In Motion

The key themes in the reconstruction phase played out as follows for me:

 Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.”


Phase 2: Rebirth

Just as the birthing process starts inside of a woman’s body, the phoenix’s rebirth begins under the ashes of her previous form

Key Themes: Control, Center, Clarify

Big problems can create uncontrollable, negative emotions. Right now, in the current state of the world and more specifically the nation, you can look at any political social media post and see emotions coming from every side of the scenario. It can be difficult to objectively look at your circumstance, when you are emotionally attached to negative themes. In theory, it’s easy to talk about mindset changes and paradigm shifts. It’s also easy to suggest that all you have to do is change your perspective to battle the negativity. But it’s not easy. It’s a process. It starts with identifying the emotions you have about something, trying to figure out why you’re feeling that way, and then moving toward healing… in whatever way is necessary to get the results you want. It’s a big reason why personal development experts will often tell you to identify the “why” a change is important, to make sure the change lasts.

Rebirth in Motion

The key themes in the rebirth phase played out as follows for me:

Key Themes: Control, Center, Clarify

The extent to which we are able to quickly adapt to changing circumstances and environments will dictate the conclusion of our own chapter: will setbacks be used to tell the story of our defeat and personal failure, or will they be portrayed as the catalysts for creativity and invention in achieving our goals?

A problem is a chance for you to do your best.”


Phase 3: Renewal

From the ashes the phoenix will rise… again and again.

© Ivan S. Harris Photography

Key themes: Clean Up, Create, Collaborate

Clutter. Information overload. Distractions. Rabbit holes. These are some of the things that got in the way of productivity for me. Not only have I experienced clutter in my physical space, but also, mentally, with tasks, obligations, communications, and thoughts. Scrolling through social media, getting involved with every conversation about every problem in the US, and being part of every conversation started to become a full-time job. It wasn’t until I started to purge things around me, that I was able to get unstuck. That opened up the mental space and capacity I needed to start creating again. Getting rid of things that no longer serve you mentally, physically, and spiritually, also allows people and things to come into your life that will propel you forward.

Renewal in Motion

The key themes in the renewal phase played out as follows for me:

In conclusion, give yourself permission to make mistakes, especially in a time when chaos has a way of overshadowing the opportunities that have been laid before all of us as business owners and leaders. Taking a step back has allowed me to reenvision how I want to move forward in the world. Give yourself permission to get back up too!

To make no mistakes is not in the power of man; but from their errors and mistakes the wise and good learn wisdom for the future.”