How does one lead Thoughtfully right now – in these times of fear and uncertainty that seem to change not just day-by-day but minute-by-minute?
Honestly, I don’t really know.
I won’t claim to in any way have the answer. I don’t think there is only one answer. I will only stand beside you with the question and offer my thoughts and ideas. Hopefully they will help if you feel you need help or spark your own ideas. Because as people around me keep saying, everything is and will be different. That probably calls for even more Thoughtfulness and leadership going forward.
I think we all have to look at this question and ponder it. How do we focus on work when work may be the last thing we’d really like to think about? How do we connect with others when we’re told to keep everyone at least six feet away and to socially isolate ourselves? How do we know what to do when the guidelines we hear are different from different experts? How do we lead when we feel a bit lost ourselves?
Again, I really don’t know.
What I do know is that we have to keep asking these questions and we have to keep finding a way to connect. And, I think again, we have to find a way to be Thoughtful – to be present, intentional, and authentic – and to be human.
What I do know is that, at least for me, I need to stop and ground myself periodically during the day. I will admit that I am one who can run away with irrational fears, and while maybe many fears are not quite irrational right now, hopefully many are. And fear won’t help. Calming myself so that I can rationally think and act or react will.
There are certain things I’m doing more of (and less of) now. Here’s my current “guide to getting through this list” in case any of it resonates with you:
- I have upped my meditation. Thank goodness mindfulness is often seen as a necessary part of effective leadership, because IMHO it is necessary and helpful now more than ever. I am diving into Insight Timer on a daily basis as always and Calm also periodically during the day.
- I am making sure I connect more with others, albeit virtually. I am texting, WhatsApping, and emailing everyone I care about (hope I’m not becoming annoying yet) and saying hello to friends, neighbors, and strangers as I walk through the neighborhood (from an appropriate distance).
- I am noticing the beauty that still exists around me – the sunshine, the flowers, the spring breeze, the blue sky. I am using the Zen phrase “Awareness of…” to be in my present moment – feeling my feet on the ground or my seat in the seat and paying attention to the people and world around me.
- As a friend also pointed out on a group text, I am seeing neighbors volunteer to shop, run errands, help each other, etc. I see people selflessly self-isolating for the greater good.
- I am breathing. Consciously breathing. Breathing to calm my body, mind, and spirit.
- I am doing my best to socially distance and to keep clean and healthy – hoping those will help – and to encourage others to do as they can as well.
- And I am also looking for and sharing good news. Someone shared this link “10 Positive Updates on the COVID-19 Outbreaks From Around the World.” Read it. It helped me reach for hope.
I also am remembering why I do the work I do and focusing on ways my work can bring something to others – like hopefully with this post. I am helping clients – and prospects – acknowledge their concerns and then find a way to move forward. To offer their colleagues support. To find a way to keep going, to do what’s next in front of them, to potentially find a way to make a difference, and to be gentle with themselves and others as many of us get stuck in fear, irrationality, and reactivity.
I know that not everyone is fearful and stressed right now (so I also check in with those family members and friends, so they can help me ground when I get caught in my anxiety) and that many of us are. Any way you look at it, this is a weird, tough time – and I hope a time that will somehow bring us all together to find solutions and to lead – and live (and love) – Thoughtfully going forward.
How do you stay calm and engaged, and lead with your best self, now when it seems to matter more than – and perhaps to be harder than – ever?
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