As humans, we aspire to be independent and in relative control of our lives to lead a happy life. Suddenly, we find ourselves in today’s pandemic world, and our regular lifestyle is significantly interrupted, we can feel ‘out of control.’ Additionally, whether we realised it before or not, our global interdependence and connectedness is amplified that our very existence may depend on the choices being made by others. As much as we truly want to be in control and independent, it is not necessarily possible.
The world is different now…or is it really? Is it only now that things are outside of our control? Were we truly independent professionals before the pandemic? Or were these beliefs ‘just thoughts’ which may or may not be true at any point in time?
Our ability to ‘see’ our reality clearly is a skill we can strengthen through mindful leadership practices. It is very easy to see what we want to see. What you focus your attention on gets amplified through the very focus of your attention.
The good news is that a recognition that we are not in control, and we are interdependent can be freeing and comforting.
As for the reality of interdependence, we can all do our part to help, to be prepared and flexible. And we need our collective strength, and our collective compassion, to grow better (not bitter) through it.
As many of us here in Queensland begin the steady, albeit modified, return to our workplaces, there is a new ‘crisis’ emerging. Only months ago, our teams were catapulted into altered states of reality requiring them to adapt and adopt new work practices to continue their employment remotely. Others lost their jobs. Other roles were scaled back to accommodate the significant changes. This required a huge recalibration of daily practices – one that many have adapted to and been able to deliver productivity outcomes upon.
Now, many are being called upon to change and adapt again. This constant change and uncertainty takes a toll on our brain’s need for certainty, predictability and relative familiarity. Because we’ve been subjected to such disruptive change and circumstances, it’s taken a toll on mental, emotional and physical health concerns.
There is a growing need now for mental health support for our leaders and teams – dealing with team rosters, managing virtual teams, people struggling with isolation, people struggling with returning to a modified workplace, anxiety about getting back to the new ‘normal’ etc.. This is a massive load and re-adjustment to contend with.
It can easily overwhelm us if we’re not mindful – we may even find ourselves frozen in place or going to extremes to try to ‘control’ whatever we think we can control.
And yet, the most skilful, helpful act you can take right now, and any time your mind starts racing, is to take a purposeful pause. A purposeful pause is a mini-training for your mind. It creates a break in the constantly busy, overly-distracted day, and it allows you to redirect the focus of your racing, worrying mind to the present moment.
When you learn to redirect your attention in this way, you create the space needed to ask the question: “What is called for now?” And you are far more likely to be responsive and creative in your answer, rather than reactive and surrender to emotional urges.
Right now, as everything around you feels unfamiliar and uncertain, you (and all of us) need to discover the kind of clarity that arises with this simple training.
Here is a simple way to take a purposeful pause at any time of the day
Why does this training of your mind work? Sensations in your body can only be felt in the present moment so when you bring your attention to the sensations of your breath, you are directing your mind to be in the present moment, rather than focused on all the worries of the future or ruminations about the past. Be patient with this training. There will be times when your mind becomes distracted every few seconds. That is totally normal. Just keep refocusing your attention back to the present, back to your breath. You can begin again with the very next in-breath.
Being present, and asking the question ‘what is called for now?’ is the best way to access your wisdom. And we will need everyone’s leadership wisdom to move through this difficult time. If you are ready to learn more about purposeful pauses at work and home, contact me to explore possibilities.
We as leaders are responsible for creating environments in which our co-workers are nurtured and energised, our organisations innovate and flourish, and our communities are respected and supported. It is a complex task. Our minds can become distracted by the urgent at the expense of the important, and we can become so preoccupied with yesterday and tomorrow that we are unable to excel at leading in the present.
My Wellness & Wisdom for the Workplace offering is designed to support teams in achieving better organisational outcomes and positive mental health and wellbeing. Offerings are customised to meet individual and organisational objectives. These help to:
- Increase the capacity for excellence
- Increase employee engagement, wellness and satisfaction
- Create an environment of innovation, flexibility and adaptability
- Improve focus and productivity
- Generate positive mental health and greater resiliency capability