This week’s blog was co-authored by Wendy Swire, MA, PCC. Wendy is a certified executive coach, speaker, author, Neuroleadership trainer, facilitator and Principal at Swire Solutions and the Founder of DC Neuroleadership Group. Her firm has worked globally with over 5,000 senior executives and leaders in areas pertaining to resiliency, strategic influencing, conflict resolution, leadership development, executive presence and communication.
As experienced leadership coaches, we have spent thousands of hours working with leaders at all levels to help them increase their resiliency and adaptability to change. Resiliency has been an important competency to cultivate over the years. However, in today’s new normal, personal and leadership resiliency is now a vital requirement to manage through volatility, uncertainty, chaos and ambiguity – also known as VUCA.
As leadership coaches, we also have a front seat in helping executives navigate turbulent waters. We know that some leaders are doing a better job than others at self-care, setting boundaries, and in engaging and inspiring their teams – without draining themselves. Resilient leaders also know how to recharge themselves. Coaches should think broadly about our own resiliency, as we support those who are responsible for thousands of employees
In this post we want to share best practices, based on our own personal experiences, that helps us stay grounded and remain resilient during challenging and uncertain times.
Self-Awareness Creates Choices
Before we can shift into a new way of being, we must know where we are at any given moment. When we have self-awareness, we can choose to manage the situation, rather than have it manage us. In our experience, this makes all the difference. For us, we practice the following to gain self-awareness:
1. Pay attention to body sensations. Our bodies are very finely tuned instruments, and when we’re feeling less then at our best, the first signs often show up in our bodies. For example, for me (Vinay), my stomach beings to churn and tighten up.
2. Pay attention to emotions. For me (Vinay), associated with body sensations are the emotions of fear, anxiety and worry. For Wendy, emotions come up around sadness regarding the new COVID world and the impact it has on loved ones, especially her college age son and another in his twenties trying to make sense of the future.
3. Pay attention to self-talk. For me (Vinay), I notice that associated with feelings of fear, are negative disempowering thoughts. The mind is assuming that worst-case scenarios will happen, which have very low probability of actually occurring. Yet in the mind, it feels very real. Self-talk has gotten tougher during COVID. For me (Wendy), the best thing I can do is to affirm when I am doing something and acknowledge it. I am getting sleep, drinking two bottles of water a day, and getting at least 30 minutes outside. The act of reminding myself of what I am doing right is a best practice.
Making the Shift
Once we are aware of our present state, we can than choose to shift into a more empowering state that can better serve us. In other words, we can choose to be resilient. Here are some of the things we practice:
1. Deep breathing. This enables blood circulation so that we can think and view the reality more clearly.
2. Alternate perspectives. Given that our minds seem to be wired to author negative interpretations, a practice we engage in is to distinguish facts from our interpretations of the facts. When we do this, we can then intentionally author different interpretations that enable us see more empowering possibilities, and to bounce back.
3. Shift emotions. When new perspectives emerge and we actually end up seeing that there are opportunities in the situation, or at least it’s not as bad as our mind makes it out to be, our emotions naturally shift to more positive states.
4. We also practice acceptance that change and uncertainty are part of living. This enables us to shift into a mood of curiosity and wonder, as well as a learner mindset. We ask ourselves questions such as: What is this situation here to teach us? In what ways can we grow from it? What are the opportunities that are being presented? Given the situation, what can we do to create a better present moment, as well as future?
As we engage in these practices, we find we feel better, our thinking shifts to being more positive and it enables us to bounce back. This will not only help us get through our challenging and difficult times that we’re experiencing, it will also help us get us ready for what lies ahead.