“I don’t think anyone is doing well anymore.” That line was in an email that hit my inbox this week. I found myself nodding along as I read it.
It seems we’re all stressed, stretched and maybe not doing so great.
The unknowns and contradictions stack up and multiply the stress of this time.
- I know skilled entrepreneurs in the restaurant business who are being hammered financially by COVID shutdowns.
- I know business people and retailers who are struggling to figure out how to keep businesses afloat.
- I know leaders who are adapting and adjusting practically daily to keep up with the changing landscape in which they lead.
- I know people who are upset by the US election…people who voted different names on the ballot but are equally unsettled (it continues to roil).
- I know working parents who are wrestling with homeschooling as they work from home and try to continue to do their work. And feel like they are failing as parents, teachers and workers.
- I know parents who are sending their kids to school and wonder exactly how risky that is.
- I know folks who have lost jobs due to the pandemic and haven’t replaced that income.
- I know people who are sure the risks of the virus are overblown.
- I know people who were leveled by COVID and after months in the hospital are now relearning how to do the basics of being an adult.
- I know of people who had COVID and it wasn’t a big deal.
- I know people who long for their community connections: church, sports, school and neighborhoods.
- I know people who ache for the “normal” of live theatre, movies, vacations and date nights.
- And I know people who are prospering. They are finding this an exceptionally good time in their lives and careers.
And yet, most of us have to carry on. So we act like we’re doing great. We tell ourselves we’re doing great. And we really try to be doing great.
But it leaks out. Sometimes as anger. Or as an out of proportion reaction to a passing comment or an innocent question. Or we shut down and withdraw. Or we’re overwhelmed with sadness.
Or we can’t shake that blah feeling.
I’ve recognized that my reactions aren’t what they should be or how I want to be. I’m a little crankier, more brittle and just a bit wobbly. I’m better than I was a month ago, but I’m not as level as I want to be.
And yet, I had to do my best to serve. Most of us have to continue to perform. I really don’t think many of us had the mythical experience of being able to receive full pay and sit on the couch binging on Netflix.
And yet those of us who lead have to figure out how to help the people around us navigate the stressors to get the work done. All while still swimming in the soup of unknowns and doubt. That’s what professionals do.
So what to do?
First. Assess yourself. Recognize what’s happening inside you. Even if you have to pretend for everyone else, don’t kid yourself. How are you really?
Second. Take care of yourself. What’s working for you? What do you need to do to restart or reset to find your balance? (I completely lost my mojo because I stopped some things that work to keep me on track and balanced).
Third. Ask the people you work with and lead how they’re doing. And pause and listen. And ask again. And listen. Hear them without judgment. Try not to tell them how they should be feeling. Try not to make it about performance. Give margin and grace.
Then. Talk about it. Talk with the people around you about how to get work and life done in this time. Share what works for you and what doesn’t. Be real about the “and yet.” And yet, we have to do this work. How can we do that together?
Finally. Offer hope. Provide a positive perspective that allows for the churn and discomfort but points to a future. Help people see that there will be an end and that you’ll all get to the other side.
I want to know how you’re doing. Let me know what’s working for you. I’d love to know your experiences leading in this time. You can reach me at sthomas AT oneicity DOT com.
I’m grateful for our connection. I always enjoy hearing from you.
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