In yesterday’s article ‘How to lead a team out of frustration or fear‘ about how you can quickly switch from showing frustration, anger or worry as a Leader. Today I want to focus on how you can have a better relationship with these feelings, for your own personal benefit and help you adjust to this new context we find ourselves in.
Many of us have been forced to adjust to new ways of working and managing our finances. You or someone you may know may have lost their employment or shut their business. This is a massive adjustment. Some of you will be in different stages of adjustment. For example you might not be ready to adjust and still be angry or fearful you are in this situation that the pandemic has put you in.
Whatever you are feeling is okay. Last week (through my videos and articles) I touched on the importance of letting your team be able to share their concerns in a daily meeting. In this article I want you to give yourself the same permission to have your own concerns.
In my recent survey about how Covid-19 is impacting you and your teams, it was interesting that most leaders said they were more worried about their people than themselves.
This can indicate that some leaders are not allowing themselves to feel fear or anger as they have a responsibility to stay calm and keep their team positive and engaged. Huge pressure.
You may be a super human at the moment, but you are still a human.
What I know for sure is that when we ignore how we feel, it doesn’t go away, in fact the pressure increases, a bit like holding an inflatable ball under the water which at any moment will explode out of the water and cause more damage. But when we accept how we feel, that pressure goes almost instantly.
Opening up our ability to focus on what we need to right now. This is called having a new relationship with uncomfortable thoughts and feelings.
Write down now, what you are most fearful of. Next, choose one word that describes it.
Some clients are telling me that they are worried that they won’t have a business at the end of all this. So their word would be “FEAR”.
Perhaps you are angry about the decisions being made around you (your leadership, government etc) so your word would be “ANGER or FRUSTRATION”.
Here’s an activity I would like you to do.
Do this activity now as you are reading this. Write your word on an A4 piece of paper.
Put it in front of your face so that all you can see is what you have written. Now keep it there for a moment.
When we ignore or pretend fear isn’t there our amygdala – the fear, flight, fright brain I talked about last week, is still running the show. It’s where the saying “I couldn’t think straight” comes from.
When you look at the word at close-range, can you see anything at the moment other than your fear, or anger or whatever you have written?
Put your piece of paper aside.
Our emotion continues to run the show. If we ignore it, our warning system gets louder like a smoke alarm in a building. This can be when we start to have physical pain, like headaches, back aches etc. Our body is saying “warning, warning!”
What is far more effective, even though it may sound counterintuitive, is to accept how we are feeling.
Pick up your piece of paper again. Look at your word and say to yourself “Yes I feel this” and follow it with “But I am going to be okay” – even if you don’t believe it. Now lower your piece of paper into your lap.
By saying this, we are telling our amygdala that it is okay, ‘we hear you!’, as we start to access our smart logical brain. When we accept how we feel, by looking at the word, saying – “yes this is how I feel”, and follow that with “but I am okay and will be okay”, we start to see what’s in front of us – able to again “think straight”.
Over the next 24 hours, every time you feel a strong emotion – try this technique.
After some practice you won’t need to use the piece of paper and be able to do it in the middle of a meeting. It really works.
Let me know how you go with this one. It’s very helpful.
Margie Ireland works with CEO’s, executives, HR professionals, managers and leaders. Margie is a psychologist with a strong commercial background of 25 years and specialises in supporting highly capable leaders to thrive in challenging times.