Our intention for this months newsletter is to provide you with some tools to help you build your resilience muscle and provide you with a little space to put down the lastest video press conference and focus on your feelings and behaviour.
We seek balance and routine, and the more we can keep our lives stable, the better we feel. There is evidence all around us right now of people living in 'threat state'. We need only look at recent toilet paper purchasing frenzy. Finding tools and implementing strategies that help us intercept our biological responses and modify our behaviour is critical to both business and personal success.
Resilience and agility represent two skills that can help us shift our thinking to a more effective way of dealing with uncertainty, change or any situation where we feel threatened.
Resilience is our ability to quickly and effectively recover from a challenging situation. Resilience requires that we reprogram ourselves so that the automatic stress response does not overwhelm us and we are able to respond to that situation effectively. While the mechanics of resilience may include everything from developing an optimistic mindset to managing our personal energy, the essential key to resilience is to find the growth opportunity that comes out of the challenge we are facing.
Agility is our ability to move quickly and decisively and to do so with some ease and comfort. Agility translates to an ability to remain calm and productive during changing times, to seek out information where it is available, and to act on opportunities even when you don’t have all the data to mitigate all risks.
We can start by getting to know ourselves, our habits of thought, our default reactions, what motivates us and our stressors. Taking time to notice where our behaviour comes from is imperative for taking action to change behaviour. We can use a comprehensive self-assessment tool that provides excellent insight into these things, (such as Everything DiSC Workplace Profiles) or we could simply journal our thoughts and feelings regularly to help identify patterns and trends in our behaviour.
This includes considering the thoughts and feelings of others and adopting a mindset where being 'right' isn't the only satisfactory outcome. An excellent phrase to include in your self-talk when you notice someone with a view or opinion in opposition to your own is, "this person doesn't think like me". Just saying this to yourself intercepts any unproductive responses that have the potential to cause arguments. By practising this over time you will develop a curiosity mindset. By asking more questions you uncover where this 'incorrect' opinion comes from, the logic behind it or any assumptions that have been made. Often it forces us to uncover our own assumptions and provides us with an opportunity to question those.
In times like these where fear is everywhere, it's important that we have empathy for others. To be empathetic means to be able to notice the subtle verbal and non-verbal signals people give off that let you know what they need or want. People who do not have the ability to recognise these subtle cues are at a great social disadvantage in terms of the way they communicate with others. On the other hand, people who are empathetic receive both physical and emotional benefits from their sensitivity. Compassionate, empathetic people are able to really listen to and understand the experiences that other people describe. Their willingness to put their own concerns away for a while and to really witness and experience others' experiences is universally appreciated as a genuine and precious gift which decreases loneliness, bonds people together (creating stronger, deeper relationships), and enhances self-esteem and self-worth for both relationship partners.
Right now, everyone is feeling worried. Worried about getting the virus, worried about your loved ones, worried about cancellations and disappointments, worried for your business, job or income. Bunkering down and only looking out for yourself will not help these feelings of worry but exacerbate them, again you only have to look at the supermarket shelves for evidence of this. Understanding that we are not alone and being innovative in our approach is what resilience and behavioural agility are all about.
It all started last Friday when our much anticipated Simon Sinek event was postponed. Our hearts sank, and the chatter that flowed in from colleagues was mirroring our disappointment. This was followed closely by the news that the PMPA Dance Tour to America would not be going ahead as planned, for Susan's daughter Caitlin and the postponement of the 18th birthday party for Ros' daughter Abbie. By the time Monday came around, the cancellations and postponements were coming in thick and fast for workshops and seminars we were scheduled to deliver as soon as Tuesday. We were well and truly experiencing some pretty unproductive emotions. As it would be for any small business, that is a massive hit to our revenue. Of course, it's difficult not to be worried when there is so much uncertainty as to when things will return to normal if indeed they ever do. It helps to remember that we're not the only ones suffering through the uncertainty and by sharing this with you, we hope that it helps you to open up too.
Owning up to these challenges or vulnerabilities is not admitting a weakness but rather a demonstration of courage. To quote our favourite author Brene Brown, 'Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness.'
What this 'free time' provides though, is the space to work on those projects that have been on our 'to-do list' for ages. Things such as finalising submissions for grants and tenders, developing and trialling online platforms to deliver our educational content, honing our tech skills and improving our ability to host remote learning and development, give our web designer the feedback he needs to finalise our new website, working on our strategic and marketing plans, not to mention taking the time to touch base with our clients like we are right now! These are the innovations and adaptions that will see us more agile for future events that are also out of our control.
To summarise our message, take a look at how you're feeling and consider how others are feeling too. Take advice and support from your networks, be generous where you can and be grateful for what you do have at your disposal to adapt.
Susan & Ros