Many of you are returning to your home offices (again), or are under great pressure with a business or occupation, or are not working due to COVID cases spiking in your community. It is understandable that you may feel all the effort you made to adjust to a “new normal” over the past months does feel somewhat pointless. It is a common element of healthy and happy living to depend upon planning to thrive in life. We value creating visions and taking proactive steps towards our aspirations. It is arguably very difficult to put energy and effort into anything that has a high likelihood of either being disrupted, postponed, or cancelled entirely.
What should a leader do? It is vital to not give up on your vision and important to continue planning. There are some critical elements of planning that can help you better lead yourself through this pandemic. One of these is to remember that weak ties still matter. In our new socially distanced and more isolated world, our strong relationships usually grow stronger and our weak relationships grow weaker. This makes sense as we tend to pull our circle closer during crisis, investing in the relationships that matter most in the immediate future. Additionally, we are not running into our weak ties as much as we used to at the water cooler, in the breakroom, or out in our old social world. The “out of sight, out of mind” effect is taking hold and those relationships are growing cooler. If you want to assess your relationships, check out your most recent emails, texts and social connections. Most of us will see that our circle has gotten smaller and there is a clear pattern.
Working and socializing with family, friends and others is what most of us consider to be the backbone of life. This is the ultimate team activity. As a leader, it is important to push yourself to broaden your outreach to people you routinely have not been engaging with, even if it is just to say hello. Not only can this help improve your day but others’ as well. The groups and organizations that are able to keep their teams strong and together in this environment will be the ones that rebound the fastest. A strong team can, and will, move mountains.
We know everyone is experiencing life very differently due to local, business and governmental guidelines. For many of us, new “stay at home” regulations and other restrictions are being put into effect or are continuing. Although we may be dealing with different sets of circumstances, this is still a collective experience. We are all in a space of tremendous uncertainty, which can make it hard to find inspiration. Inspiration brings joy and creativity to our life. The lack of it brings monotony, the feeling of being in a rut and a general diminishing of our sense of life’s positive moments. We need to stay inspired. To be inspired we must connect with our environment and pay attention. It is our focus to the events, people and things around us that allow us to recognize aspects of life that bring us inspiration and joy.
It is so easy to point at and get lost in what we feel are the negative aspects that we are seeing so much these days. But that is just because they are different from what we were used to before. We were more comfortable before the pandemic than we are now. Like most forms of life, we are creatures of habit and mostly do not embrace change. Change means having to adjust and if that change is not instantly gratifying, we are loathe to accept it, let alone embrace it. The powerful person and leader (whether you are leading others or just taking a lead in your own life), realizes that power comes from embracing the world as it exists around us and adding energy to direct aspects of that world for the better; better for oneself as well as for others. And one of the only things we can be certain of is that the universe is constantly changing. The powerful person embraces change and flows with it, learning to be inspired by the new things it brings as well as seeing the world in a more complete way overall.
For most of us, many of our plans have been disrupted in the past several months. Here are some aspects of planning that can help you continue to plan and keep positive with the right perspective when things do not go your way. First, remember that a plan is a reference point for change. This idea allows you to be prepared emotionally, mentally and logistically when Plan A does not happen as you wanted. Do not fall in love with your plan. When you do, you run the risk of being blind to other options and opportunities that may emerge in a rapidly changing environment. You also might not be able to “break up with your plan” when it is clear that what you envisioned is not going to happen. Seek out the opinion and advice of others that you respect, especially when they have more experience than you. Finally, do not have only one route to your destination. Know and be prepared for multiple courses of action. “If this, then that” scenario planning allows you to be quick to change direction when the situation is not developing as envisioned. While you may take a different route to your destination, which might be longer or more frustrating, it is best to keep focused and believe that you will get there eventually.
We know this pandemic is far from over. Increases in COVID cases are confirming this. While a vaccine for the virus is on the horizon, it will still be many months before most of us are safe and the pandemic is less of a burden. But it is very important that we not let the virus derail us entirely. Do not give up on your plans to work towards your vision (whatever it is personally or professionally). Focus on being more open minded, creative and imaginative. Be inspired to lead yourself towards where you would like to go. As COVID continues to impact us, keep being of service and support to others. Stay aware of how those around you are being disrupted by the pandemic and be as helpful as you can as you can. ACT. Leaders are doers. A common trait among great leaders is that most of their doing is for others.
Get active. Get busy. Get involved. Take a good look at the world around you under these recent changes. Do not focus only on the negative and profound ones but pay attention to the small ones that give you opportunities, especially those that would not have been possible in the “old normal”. It is your life, so take charge of it and embrace that responsibility. When you do, the world often appears to open up, or at least seems to present itself in a manner that can inspire and propel us forward to new, newer and greater heights.