The call for courageous leadership in days like these is more important than ever.
Because authentic leaders find their mojo in times of great uncertainty.
Now’s not the time for a predefined response plan.
It requires leaders with behaviors and mindsets that deal with the realities, prevent overreaction, and lay the groundwork for a better tomorrow.
“Everyone has a plan ’til they get punched in the mouth.” M. Tyson
This quip came from world champion boxer Mike Tyson when a reporter asked him about his “fight plan” for an upcoming opponent.
It captures that sinking feeling of panic and disorientation when things go horribly wrong.
Seemingly overnight, jobs flew out the window, vibrant businesses failed and investments tanked. Everyone I know is struggling to cope. If your health or family routines have been turned upside down its little comfort that this is happening across the nation and around the world. A whole new 27 million North Americans had to claim unemployment these past few weeks.
Science tells us that when we face threatening change, our “caveman software” kicks in. Suddenly fight, flight or freeze responses are triggered and we experience a flood of random emotions from anger, denial, anxiety to just plain old fear. Composure dissipates. We’re not at our best
Now’s the time to take a deep breath, literally and figuratively, and decide what really matters. Rely on your faith, training, experience, skill, and instincts to figure out the next right thing to do. Then move towards that in the very best way that you can.
We’ll likely have to shelter in place for a while longer.
There’s a lot of uncertainty between now and our new normal, the next normal, and the never normal.
There will likely be false “all clear” in some regions. There may be future spikes. But everything will play out.
It’ll be different, but ok.
“April seems like it lasted a year and March seems like a distant lifetime ago”
The forced suspension of plans, travel, schedules, and times with family and friends pale in comparison to the real devastation of lives lost. The daily news updates tell the story.
There’s unfathomable grief for those who’ve lost loved ones to this insidious pandemic. There is care and concern for those who are suffering loss and genuine economic hardship.
The things we learned?
We learned that shaking hands can be deadly.
That the economy can stop overnight.
We’re all more vulnerable and fragile than we’d like to believe.
How people can bond in adversity, and how isolating lockdown can feel.
There is also a slowly dawning reality.
While health care workers and home-schooling parents are busier than ever, much of the rest of the world has come to a screeching halt.
Streets are emptier, the air is cleaner, even at a distance, people seem friendlier and more supportive.
Perhaps a growing recognition that life just got simpler?
Perhaps the whole world as we know it just got a cosmic “time out”.
We’ve suddenly been given a windfall gift of time. A chance to reset. A chance to reflect how fragile, human, and inter-dependant we actually are.
When friends, colleagues, and clients are making hard decisions about, layoffs, personal futures, and whether or not to keep the business doors open, the best thing I can do is stifle my internal advice monster and simply “be there” for them.
Many of the questions I’m being asked these days don’t have easy answers.
Talking things through to cope with the present seems to be the foremost healing conversation.
Some sample questions and scenarios I’m coming across:
“When does this end? I wish I knew when this would all be over.”
Often this question masks deeper concerns. My response is usually something like, “What part of this have you found to be the hardest?”
This allows us to identify and talk through those deeper concerns.
“What’s something you’ve learned during this crisis you would have never expected?”
This uncovers hidden capabilities and resilience.
“What’s one thing you hope remains after this crisis?”
We can acknowledge things we’ve discovered that we actually enjoy — like the perks of remote work and extra family time.
It helps to see past the current challenges.
“What’s the absolute worst thing you could imagine happening from all of this?”
This helps sort through real concerns vs. irrational or imagined concerns.
Those prone to worry have trouble distinguishing between what’s “possible” and what’s “probable”.
What is something you’re looking forward to when things somewhat normalize?
Having some well-defined goals can have a powerful effect to mitigate anxiety.
Coping with current reality while laying the groundwork better days is leadership job 1.
Until next time,