Leading during uncertainty

“When you are in a dark place, you tend to think that you were buried, perhaps instead you are being planted.”

Dr. César A. Cruz

Carrots, eggs, or coffee. I adore these metaphors as a way to help frame a spectrum of when I experience uncertainty, stress, or constraints. As I continue my journey towards a growth mindset, I remind myself that the journey is the destination. And I also must remind myself that others are on their own journey, at their own pace. 


Wherever you are on your journey, here are a few resources that I’ve found impactful.

Self Awareness

Yes, it is okay to experience grief and sadness. 

Yes, it is okay to experience laughter and joy. 

Yes, it is okay to experience all the emotions in the rainbow. 

Staying with emotions, I recently watched the powerful documentary “The Mask You Live In” and its message resonated deeply with me. It took me years to realize how my behaviors were connected to the emotions I was experiencing yet not acknowledging. I worked with a cognitive behavioral therapist for years to assist with retraining my neural pathways. Everyday I work on my self awareness, yes it’s a skill, of my emotional wellness and my physical wellness.

Mental Wellness

Dear self, I love you. I adore Dr. Cesar Cruz. Here is a love letter he wrote to his own mental health and his guided meditation.

MIT hosted an amazing conversation with Arlan Hamilton, Brad Feld, and Kathleen Stetson about the importance of mental health. 

I believe we are in the moment where we can openly discuss our mental wellness journey and find support systems to buoy our efforts. Every colleague, coworker, or employee is a human with their own journey we can acknowledge or dismiss. I choose to acknowledge.

Empathy

The difference between empathy and sympathy is wonderfully articulated by Brene Brown. She also does an amazing job distinguishing shame and guilt

Recently Josh Bersin published an amazing article about leaning into our human skills during times of uncertainty. 

Time and again you will hear: “Humans do business with other Humans.” Yes, you may have a B2B or B2B4C method to make money. However, organizations are simply a collection of humans. Make a human decision.

Neuroscience 

For a long time, I blamed my brain for causing my behaviors. I undermined my own intelligence and competence, cue imposter syndrome. My neural pathways were so ingrained that I believed my thoughts. Fortunately, I discovered neuroscience as it applies to leadership and Dr. David Rock’s work in this space. 

Several amazing suggestions provided in this webinar recently launched: Neuroscience What Science Says Leaders Should Do in times of crisis.

Learning Zone

First, reflect on where you stand in the spectrum. Comfort Zone / Fear Zone / Learning Zone / Growth Zone. Address your own needs. Then, as we interact with friends, family, and colleagues actively listen for words and phrases that indicate where on the spectrum they are. Listen to tone of voice, watch for eye contact, and any shifts in what you previously experienced with this person. 

If you have the capacity, how can you help create space for folks to move through each zone? Some fantastic tips in this article about psychological safety.

Self Care

Summarizing these points together, put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. Care for yourself before trying to serve others. I encourage you, please prioritize your wellness – nourish yourself with water, sunshine, and fresh air – so that you can continue to be of service to others. 

If you find yourself at a grinding halt or overcome with grief, self care. I did. Then slowly, intentionally find sunshine, literally or figuratively, to help keep moving forward step by step. Find ways to create new routines and methods to interact with friends, family, and mentors. Remember to prioritize your own self care. Nourish yourself.

Self care is not selfish.

Be well, find laughter, protect your immune system, and wash your hands.

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