We live in rapidly changing times – never has that been more apparent than in the last few months and weeks. In a shorter timeframe than ever before, leaders and employees have had to adapt to new ways of doing business, new marketing strategies, new ways of presenting their value. One side effect of this rapid change is that no one person, be they a CEO, an employee or an entrepreneur, can be an expert in everything. Perhaps this has always been the case, but it’s never felt so obvious.
This period of time has most people locked into conversations and wonderings in their own head, the likes of which we’ve never endured. Guessing at what the immediate and long-term future will look like. Guessing at how our businesses will survive, grow and move forward. Trying to imagine what the next few months will look like, let alone next year.
Each of us has our own way of getting locked inside our own heads. Of sitting in our own strength, or lack thereof, trying to figure out how to single-handedly take on the world. Our perspectives, our whole world, can get very small very quickly locked inside our own heads.
Time and time again, you’ve heard me talk about the three essentials to effective communication – Perspective, Awareness and Clarity – and how, if things aren’t going the way you’d like them to, the chances are good that you’re missing one or more of these things. I’ve spent a lot of time in the past few weeks, formulating new ways to help the leaders I deal with draw perspective, awareness and clarity. Without these things, our thinking caves in and becomes convoluted, pressure builds up and stress levels rise.
It’s essential that we all find ways of getting outside ourselves and gaining perspective on where we are and how where we are connects to where we’re trying to go. It’s essential that we take time to gain awareness of what’s happening around us, of the factors that affect our decisions, and that we prioritise what we find in that building of awareness. It’s then imperative that we sift through everything we’ve become aware of and gain clarity on what’s truly important to us. Only then can we make decisions that hold weight.
The higher the pressure, the foggier it can become inside our own heads; the more essential than ever that we get out of them!
Getting out of our own heads means finding ways to sound off. Finding ways to lay our thoughts out in front of us, and to share those thoughts with people who can check them for us. People we trust who can add to our perspective. People who share enough with us to understand, and who are also different enough in their outlook to ask us tough questions and to challenge our thinking. People who can assure us we’re not crazy ourselves, because they’re willing to share a little of their own crazy with us.
This can be an extremely difficult thing to do for many people. No more so than entrepreneurs who work alone, or for leaders of business who are the keepers of all sorts of thoughts, knowledge and confidences. But without these checks and balances for our own thinking, we can’t grow or gain clarity.
Some find these checks in reading the books of great minds like Jim Collings, Steven Covey, Ryan Holiday, James Kerr, and John Maxwell. Some take themselves out of their own sphere and into nature or sport to run, explore, hit a ball, break a sweat, catch a fish. Some find council in mentors of their own, or trusted friends and counterparts. We cannot grow caught up in our own haze of thought.
This weekend, history was made. A daring duo, already affectionately known to the world as Bob and Doug, gained the biggest perspective it’s currently possible to gain when they left Earth’s atmosphere in Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket “Dragon”, to dock with the International Space Station. It’s not the first time we’ve been privileged enough to watch the enormity of space travel, nor to see the world from that kind of distance from the dark beauty and peace of space. Aiming the Dragon just right, slowly coming in to dock and then methodically running through all the checks and procedures before they could open the airlocks between the two entities, was calm and peaceful in a way that belied its gravity (no pun intended).
Not only was it a huge feat, but it was in stark contrast to the mayhem they left back on the planet. I’m old enough, that it made me think of American singer-songwriter Julie Gold’s song “From a Distance”, most popularly sung by Bette Midler. It has incredible lyrics that remind us that everything looks different from a distance and is well worth listening to right now. Bob and Doug’s mission reminded me that where we right now is just a drop in time. It’s different from how we’re used to things going and therefore there are many stressful considerations. There are consequences on a daily basis, and far reaching implications. But there is also the flip side.
Life IS going on, and quite beautifully and momentously so. The planet is still turning, perhaps better in many ways for our current chapter. Our businesses are being challenged to create and deliver more authentic value. We, as individuals, are being asked “what do YOU have to contribute” in a way that has never allowed us to speak to our strengths and purpose more directly. Leaders are being asked “who will you be?”. Children are learning skills and having experiences that they would never otherwise have had. The world remains full of incredible opportunity, if we can gain enough distance and perspective to see it.
As Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley continue to circle our world, looking down from a distance, I wonder what they will see. What their thoughts will be. My own mission continues to be to create perspective and clarity for leaders and their teams in my own right, and to find new ways of delivering this – because I believe that people that understand and trust each other produce powerful outcomes.
What do you believe in? Why are you doing what you’re doing? Are you going to allow this current period of time to get you all wound up in your own head, or are you going to be like Bob and Doug – gaining new perspective about how we fit into the grander picture of all the opportunity that’s being given to us?
by Christen Killick
June 1st, 2020