Congratulations for making it through 2 years of unpredictable chaos, combining a global pandemic, environmental disasters, heightened awareness of racial injustice, and hits to the fragile nature of peace. Sheesh.
You’re here! Yay you! Well done and . . . it’s taken a toll.
Everyone I know, whether the leaders I coach, the teams in our Leadership Academy, friends, family, and me, too, has spent the last 2 years bouncing between “languishing” and hope, and occasionally tipping over the edge. Ugh.
Makes sense. Our stress-response systems can only tolerate so much before shutting down. And with magic-fairy-dust-to-make-it-all-go-away apparently caught up in supply chain shortages, what do we do?
When I started my coaching adventure 20 years ago, I got clear on my life purpose — to softly, and insistently, remind myself and others, “Yes, you can.”
That much hasn’t changed. Yes, you can get through this.
Homo sapiens have been battling hardship, distress, disease and each other since cave days. This isn’t our first rodeo. We’re not the first of our species to encounter overwhelming strife, and no, sorry, we won’t be the last.
As with most human difficulties, it’s about getting through with as much grace, confidence and compassion as we can muster.
How do we do that? So glad you asked.
Find Meaning in the Moment.
I’ve been experimenting with a strategy rooted in BC (Before COVID) research.
Connect to what brings you meaning, joy or satisfaction in a moment — whether it’s feeling like you’re making a difference, experiencing the awe of nature, connecting with others — whatever floats your boat.
These bits bring us back to our core.
- They guide us to make sometimes painful changes that eventually lead us to sustainable peace and more of our best selves.
- They inspire us to re-prioritize when despair and hopelessness pop up.
This simple practice aligns with Adam Grant’s languishing solution: Take action that puts us in flow.
It’s also confirmed by Harvard business prof Teresa Amabile’s, 45 years of research. Her key finding?
Feeling like we’re making progress in meaningful work contributes to a positive inner work life, spurring an upward spiral of creativity, engagement and performance.
Revisit your “why”.
I saw this dynamic play out in a recent Leadership Academy Open-Mic call with senior leaders.
In 1-1 meetings, every single participant reported exhaustion and impatience. Understandable, right? And yet, when we talked about their organization’s mission and vision, their optimism and energy resurfaced. Hmmm.
Connecting to the “why” behind our actions feeds our souls and creates well-deserved space from daily toil and stress.
And though it’s unreasonable to expect ourselves to behave 100% aligned with our mission, vision and values 100% of the time, the aspiration of who we want to be can light our way through confusion and chaos.
When leaders do this for themselves and the people they support, they guide us toward a world and workplace we can believe in and commit to.
Wherever you are in the pecking order . . . staying true to what’s important . . . focusing on the long term . . . and supporting the people around you to do the same . . . can inspire and influence others to create value in collaborative and compassionate ways.
Can you do this? Yup. You really can.