Change fascinates me. So much so that I spent almost two years researching the impact it has on us, and authoring a new global emotional intelligence report, SEI LTC (Leading Through Change).
What are the skills we need to be change ready and resilient?
Change arrives in many forms, and none has rocked the world quite as much as Covid-19, also spoken of as coronavirus. We’ve all watched the breaking news out of China, which then spread rapidly to other countries, much like a blazing bushfire.
And just like the recent Australian bush fires, despite global efforts, this virus seems uncontrollable at the moment. What seems certain is that it is going to spread, and that we’re all likely to be impacted by it at some point. From what I hear from my medical friends, if we’re well and healthy, the best thing would be to catch it and develop immunity. It’s the vulnerable among us that we’re so desperately trying to shield until our scientists come forward with a vaccination to give them a fighting chance.
There’s something else at play here. Anxiety…on a whopping scale.
It seems anxiety is about as infectious as Covid-19.
Not surprising as anxiety is not a function of individuals ~ it’s a function of groups. Families, schools, work teams, organizations and countries are catching anxiety, and it’s leading to all sorts of interesting (and weird) behaviours. Who would have thought a virus would see a global shortage of toilet paper!! Strange & amusing, but at a deeper level, a sign of the depth of fear being experienced right now in the midst of such risk, uncertainty and emotional exposure, which interestingly is Brené Brown’s very definition of vulnerability!
Whist we’re working so hard to come up with a vaccination, we need to work just as hard at better navigating the current levels of anxiety.
And the antidote is right before our eyes – it’s CALM.
C – being clear about what’s important to you, and what feels OK for yourself and your loved ones. It’s time to trust your head, heart & gut and make decisions that feel right for you. If that means staying closer to home for a while, shifting meetings to virtual platforms and being more flexible, then that’s a good thing. Now isn’t the time to shame or blame anyone who needs to feel greater levels of psychological and emotional safety. We’re all comfortable with different levels of risk, and we all have different levels of change readiness.
A – accept we’re in the midst of a large rolling change wave, and no-one knows when/how the wave is going to break. Listen to the emotions and feelings that are coming up for you. Name them and be curious about what message they’re trying to give you. Ask your people how they’re feeling and listen to them with empathy, not judgement. You can’t over-communicate in these times. People need to feel your connection, see your flexibility and know that you care. Now is the time for wide perspectives and an open, generous mindset – fueled by large doses of self-compassion and compassion for others.
L – Lean into courage. Before your feet touch the floor every morning, ask yourself how you’re going to be a bit braver today than you were yesterday? Leaders around the world are having to have tough conversations several times each day at the moment, desperately trying to keep people safe, education systems alive, jobs retained and globally interconnected transport systems intact. We will get through this change – but it’s going to be rocky and we’ll need extraordinary levels of Resilience.
Brené Brown has another word for Resilience. She calls it ‘Grounded Confidence’, and she has an equation for it:
Grounded Confidence = Rumbling with Vulnerability (risk, uncertainty + emotional exposure) + Curiosity + Practice (over and over again!)
M – Live Mindfully each day. Paying attention to this day – to the small things for which you’re thankful. Witnessing the small moments in the natural world around you – butterflies, the many colours of green, the sky with all its coloured vibrancy. Being present and focused on this moment. If you’re unpracticed at this skill, there are so many Apps to help you, Insight Timer and Headspace to name a couple.
Navigating these hugely volatile times also demands that you are change ready. It’s a time for readiness, preparation and calm action, rather than scattered, anxious and panicked reaction.
In an article written this week by Amy Webb (How Futurists Cope With Uncertainty), she says:
“Your goal right now isn’t predictions. It’s preparation for what comes next. We must shift our mindset from making predictions to being prepared” .
This is a simple tool in times of great uncertainty and risk.
At some point this week, my husband and I have the joy of welcoming a granddaughter into the world.
And as I hold her, I will share my own inner CALM with her.
To start preparing her for the changing world she’s entering – with love, kindness, generosity, self-compassion, empathy and a huge dose of presence. Emotions are highly contagious, and my gift to her will be planting the seeds of Resilience, even from her first breath.