We often speak in our workshops about leadership being a choice and how a starting point for that choice is leading ourselves. It may sound easy, but it requires high self-awareness, thoughtful reflection and a commitment to act in alignment with what is most important to us as we serve others.
This is an unprecedented time in our world. The uncertainty and ambiguity during this pandemic have the potential to take us down unhealthy paths, not just physically but emotionally. I noticed in these last few weeks that although I seemed to feel fine on the surface, I was pushing down my anxiety, which slowly began to surface. It showed up in a variety of ways: fitful sleep, an inability to focus on a task, being distracted by all the things swirling in my mind, a physical fidgety-ness, and a subtle melancholy. I had a hard time articulating what was happening. I felt disappointed in myself and I knew I was stuck. I had to look in the mirror and name those things driving my fears and frustrations.
While sharing with my husband my struggle of feeling ineffective and a little lost, he asked me what questions I would have for a client who was experiencing what I was feeling. Then, he suggested that it might be useful for me to journal.
The next morning, I was awake with the birds, found a journal and started to write about everything that was on my mind. I also used this time for reading and prayer. Almost immediately, I felt lighter and more energized. Taking time to think, write and reflect allowed me to be more in touch with what was going on in my mind and heart – I began to feel a positive shift!
My husband and son have a love of flying and will often have conversations about different aircraft. One of the things I’ve learned over the years is about the impact that G-forces have on our vision. Apparently, when the force of gravity increases, the blood in the body will move from the head toward the feet. In fact, if the gravitational pull increases or continues, several things may occur – loss of color vision, loss of peripheral vision, or a complete loss of vision while retaining consciousness. I believe this is a picture of how the pressures of this unusual time can cause us to lose our ability to see things clearly and may impact our behaviors and our effectiveness.
The arbitrary changes and challenges we are experiencing in our daily lives can push us to our limits and cause us to lose focus on what we hold most dear. But it doesn’t have to be that way! We have a choice with how we handle the pressure, the uncertainty and the ambiguity. Try asking yourself these questions:
• What are some things you can do to connect to what you value most?
• Can you carve out some space for thoughtful reflection?
• Is there a trusted friend with whom you can think out loud, gain perspective from, and who can ask the hard questions?
Cut yourself some slack. Give yourself some grace. Lead yourself down a learning path and ask for the help you need.
We really are all in this together.