“Success Is Not Final. Failure Is Not Fatal. It Is the Courage to Continue that Counts.” Winston Churchill
“May you live in interesting times” is an ancient saying- actually a Chinese curse. Well, we certainly are living in “interesting times”. We are in some uncharted waters to say the least. To be transparent, so am I. I have my moments of worry and fear as I am sure you all do as well. All sorts of feelings are swirling in our atmosphere and our emotional fields. I want to offer you some support and encouragement as well as some ideas that may help you and those in your world.
First of all, this moment is temporary. We don’t know how long temporary will last and what the impact will be and that’s where so much of our fear and anxiety can arise. In the absence of info, our minds can create terrible stories about the future. Remember, they are just stories. You don’t have to believe everything that you think. Watch your thoughts! “Isn’t that interesting” is a great thought pause phrase. Feelings are normal. Fear is normal. We are all normal. Fear is part of who we are AND it’s not ALL of who we are. We are also courageous. Without fear, there is no courage and fear gives us the opportunity to build our courage muscles. Move through the fear and courage and capacity will follow.
One of the greatest skills that leaders must have is leading through change and challenging times. Indeed, we are all experiencing change and challenge right now. Our ways of working have changed. Where we can travel is limited. Who we can see is limited. For some it’s much more serious as lives have been lost or forever changed by the loss of a loved one. People are hurting. Maybe you are hurting. I hope that we all can experience relief soon. Until then, we must do our best. One of the attributes that makes a leader in this world is resilience. Resilience is the ability to be flexible, to bend without breaking, to adjust and keep going. Get knocked down, get back up.
Think of a leaf. A fresh leaf off a tree has some resilience. You can put it in your hand, close it and then the leaf can rebound and stay a leaf. It might look a bit worn but it does not crumble and you can certainly tell that it is a leaf. When you put a rigid dried up leaf in your hand and close your hand on the leaf, then the leaf will crumble and fall apart. You cannot even tell that it is a leaf anymore. We all need to be the resilient leaf, flexible, and adjust when we feel like the world is closing in around us. Bend and recover. Now is not the time to crumble.
By the way, I’m not suggesting that we put our heads in the sand and pretend that everything is fine. That response would be foolish long term, (although a normal coping response). Assuming the worst, worrying yourself to death or crawling into a corner (yep- I visited the worry corner) and waiting to feel better- that’s not useful either. There are always opportunities that come through hardship and I want all of us to be set up with the best chance to create and lean into opportunities when they manifest and they will manifest. Leaning into building and maintaining resiliency, flexibility, and openness will help us get through any crisis, keep our heads cool and support each other.
- Keep a structure: Don’t leave the day to chance. Plan your day, your week, your future. Some regular routines will allow you to put less energy in figuring everything out from scratch every day.
- Daily goal setting: Take some time each day to write down a few goals. They don’t have to be spectacular, but they should address something that needs addressing and will improve your life in some way. One day my goals included vacuuming the house. You know what? I did it and it helped me feel like I was doing something and getting your personal living space to look less chaotic can help calm internal chaos. Goals do not have to be massive to make a significant difference. Today, writing this article is on the goal list.
- Talk with a trusted friend (or a pet). You are not alone. We are all in this together. Support each other. Maybe your trusted friend is a pet? Pets can calm us in times of uncertainty. Sitting and petting your dog, studies show, can calm our internal system AND the dog’s system as well. It’s true!
- Plan 30 minutes of time for yourself each day, either alone or with a trusted friend or companion.
- Exercise such as a walk outside, yoga, or an online group class. Getting your heart rate up helps bust up stress.
- Learn something new. The act of learning can renew your sense of self build good feelings as well as skills.
- Stay away from social media or checking the news too much– (previously guilty and am officially off the news wagon). News always finds me no matter what anyway.
- Count your blessings daily. There is actual scientific data on this one. End each day with finding three good things that happened today in your life.
- Music: turn off the news and put on some great music to keep you company. There’s science in this one as well. Music can impact the brain in amazing ways. Discover some new music or turn on your old favorites.
- Organize something. Difficult times lead us to feeling out of control. Attack the dust bunnies, sort the drawer, clean the garage.
- Eat well. Our bodies need nourishment and your immune system will do best when you arm it with quality food. Resist overindulging in chips and ice cream. Eat whole foods. Drink plenty of water.
- Get in nature. The birds and squirrels are carrying on with their business. Get outside and leave the phone at home or at least off.
- Encourage someone else. Sometimes the best way out of our own experience is to support someone else in their experience. Listen to someone else. Deeply listen with your eyes, ears and heart. Communicate with work colleagues, especially ones who may have additional challenges happening right now. Check on people who live alone, safely. Just let people know that you are thinking of them.
- Remember a time that was difficult in your life that you survived. You’ve made it through tough times. Plenty of them. You will make it through this one and you will be stronger for it.
- Mindfulness practice. Put everything away. Close your eyes, watch your breath. Allow your mind to take a break from thinking and just pause. Notice the thoughts, label them, and go back to the breath. Ten minutes a day of this practice will be awesome for your mind, body and emotional health. If ten minutes feels like forever, then just try 10 slow breaths. You can decide after 10 if you’d like to keep going in this way.
- Sleep and rest. Keep a strong sleep routine and consider a nap during the day. Twenty minutes in the afternoon (which is one of the most natural stress times for us) can give our brains some needed recharge time.
- Journal. Write down your thoughts and also your blessings. Make plans for each day and also for the future.
- Read a book. Give yourself some inspiration and read a great book. Autobiographies of amazing people are wonderful ways to have conversations with inspiring people. You can still order books on line or just call a friend and borrow or trade.
- Clean out a room. There is something most satisfying about finally getting that office organized, garage cleaned out or a basement de cluttered.
- Develop or borrow a supportive mantra and repeat it. This could be a prayer, a few words, or a page that you write and read on a regular basis. “This too will pass” is a simple one that I have heard quoted again and again. “Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.” Wish a positive mantra on to someone else by sending them positive and supportive thoughts while you close your eyes and picture this person. Studies by Dr. Barbara Fredrickson have shown that this practice can be very powerful and effective in creating positive space and resilience for yourself.
We are indeed in a strange and difficult time. For some of us, it is very dangerous. For others, we have the power to reduce the danger to ourselves and to others. Do the right thing now. Plan for the future. Build your resilience. Most of all, keep going.
Please share this article with anyone that you think could benefit from it. Also, would you share any resiliency builders or ways that you feel support during challenging times in the comments section so others can see some options?
Thank you for reading, and sharing. I am sending you lots of positive, compassionate, and supportive energy.
The world needs leaders.
The world NEEDS YOU!
I am so glad that YOU are here!
Your coach, fan and friend,
L4 Leadership LLC