We are in a unique moment in history – a global health and financial crisis happening at the same time, causing the perfect storm. Much devastation is being caused by this storm, but how can we take advantage of the opportunities during this crisis to help ourselves and each other to emerge stronger? Very simply: Stay focused on what’s in our control.
In a recent episode of The After 30 Podcast titled Inside Out vs. Outside In, Wendy Thomas of Wendy Thomas Coaching talks about the importance of tapping into our six mental faculties (reason, will, intuition, imagination, perception and memory) rather than our five senses to guide our thoughts and behaviours through these uncertain times. She explains that, if we become emotionally absorbed with the outside through our senses (i.e. seeing and hearing the latest news, statistics, narratives, etc.), our subconscious mind becomes consumed with the negative, which is paralyzing, making it difficult to get through even the most basic tasks. On the flip side, if we will our conscious mind to choose positive thoughts, our subconscious mind cannot reject them.
For example, reframing our perception is a simple tactic that allows us to reimagine our current circumstances: I am lucky to be at home, to have technology, to be safe, to have food. We can also use our imagination to anticipate the good things we will not take for granted when things go back to “normal”: I will eat in restaurants, make time to connect face to face with people, go on the trip I’ve been putting off, start that business I’ve been dreaming about. The shift from outside-in to inside-out takes conscious effort – but little by little, we can start to change our habits and influence our subconscious mind for the better.
Here are three opportunities we can all take advantage of through this crisis.
Reflect on your own development
Now is a great time to take stock and potentially hit reset. The good news is that with travel and large meetings coming to a complete halt, many people are more available and open to (virtual) networking chats. Also, many life and career coaches are offering free or discounted sessions in order to help people through these trying times. And take note that several well-respected educational institutions and companies are offering free online courses. It’s a great time to invest in your skill development.
From impromptu cocktail parties to children’s talent shows, it’s been inspiring to see how quickly teams have pivoted to take advantage of technology as a means to connect and keep work moving. Collaboration tools such as Zoom, Skype and Teams have skyrocketed in popularity for meeting face to face, and other technology solutions such as Miro, Parabol and Milanote are incredibly useful in helping facilitate creative brainstorming and other meetings.
No matter what career stage you are in, this is prime time for leadership. Organizations, now more than ever, require leaders at all levels who are courageous, empathetic and trustworthy. Now is the perfect time to step up and build your leadership brand.
Here are a few actions you can take starting immediately:
- Take the time to check in regularly with teams and people you haven’t been in touch with for a while;
- See this universal hardship as an opportunity to form deeper bonds with team members and customers by connecting on a more human level;
- Celebrate progress and wins, big and small;
- Coach less tech-savvy co-workers on tools to increase productivity;
- As a leader, operate with agility and transparency to accommodate for shifting priorities and to avoid unproductive spin and panic in your teams.
Of course, with so much uncertainty, it is difficult to avoid feeling helpless and giving in to our anxieties. But focusing on the opportunities is a way to stay positive and productive for now, and to set us up to emerge from the crisis stronger than before.
Naomi Titleman Colla is founder of Collaborativity Inc., a Toronto-based consultancy focused on driving progressive talent strategy in this new world of work.
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