What a year 2020 has been so far. I know we keep saying it, but it continues to prove itself true! Even as we launched ourselves through January and February, with the news of Corona in the background, we could never have imagined the rollercoaster that awaited us. My favourite meme at the moment says “If June brings flying spiders, I’m out!”…. you just never know what’s going to come next.
Figuring out what to write today has been tougher than usual. Normally, as long as I can find a spark that pertains to leadership and team, I have no problem writing. Yet currently, as I look across the teams that I’ve been working with this year, I am engulfed by everything they are dealing with.
Some are better off than they expected to be, having closed for a lockdown period and reopened to find their business still able to serve. Some rode out the lockdown as they were classified as essential services, and continue to follow their aims, albeit challenged by the current economy. Some were heading for new heights earlier in the year and are now facing the reality of having to let some of their valued team go. Some are waiting for next stages to see whether and how they will operate moving forward. All are on a rollercoaster of guessing games and uncertainty.
I’ve found it incredibly difficult to find enough clarity in everything I’m witnessing and feeling to be sure that what I write is valuable and doesn’t sound surface level or preachy considering the enormity of what everyone is dealing with.
Much of what I’ve written about this year has had to do with self-management and self-analysis (deciding who to show up as as a team member). It’s come right back to the things we can control – ourselves, our inner world, our thought, emotions, beliefs etc. Right now, the clichéd expressions of “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” are landing with people who may well be at their breaking point, or at the very least aren’t sleeping very soundly.
The truth of the matter is that we are changed. We are different people now to who we were at the beginning of this year and we will continue to change through this chapter. The truth is that this chapter is all about reimagining how we need to operate, how our businesses and teams will look, how our lives and world will look moving forward. This chapter is about continuing to do the work to find the flip side – the new opportunities, the gratitude, the saving graces – because these are the things that will carry us through.
They will carry us through because now, more than we’ve instructively talked about it before, we are learning the practicalities of mental and emotional resilience. We’re getting a taste of what it’s like to live through something in our lifetime that shakes the core of everything we know for certain and leaves us standing in a changed arena that we need to make new sense of. In a manner of speaking, this is what we trained for every time we talked about developing character, resilience, authenticity, and maintaining truth.
Never has communication been more important. Never has authentic leadership from leaders willing to express their own vulnerability been more needed. Never has clarity been more sought, yet remained so elusive. Never has every home you know and care about been individually under threat from differing elements of the same crisis.
Moving forward, our humanity will remain our most powerful strength. Our ability to check on each other, to make sure our teams are still standing and to recognise when those who say they’re fine really aren’t. Our ability to govern our own personal resources so that we don’t burn out trying to negotiate the new digital presence of striving that is hitting new levels and that will find us in every space and ever moment if we allow it. Our ability to empathise with each other is becoming a super power, and yet it must be balanced by our ability to recognise that we too are part of the team rather than the one who must take it all on alone.
This past week, I was reading some of The Fourth Turning by William Strauss & Neil Howe, written in 1997. It’s about the rhythms and cycles of time that the world and the human race follows over decades and centuries and predicts at that time that there would be another world crisis between 2020 and 2025. They spoke of a season of growing distrust in large systems, and how this growing distrust on a worldwide scale would create a new mood. How this mood of distrust would leave space for triggers of division to spark dissent that would require the governing of martial law. I’m sure they sounded loony in 1997…..and yet….
The flip side of what I’ve read this last week talks about how the major cities of the world were born around seaports – points of access and coming together. Later, they’ve developed around airports. And that now, whilst those airports lie dormant, new communities and gatherings are springing up, and you get to choose which community you belong to. Communities of trust based not on place but on purpose.
The fundamental reason that I do what I do is because I believe that people who understand and trust each other produce powerful outcomes.
The idea of this crisis being a gateway to new communities of trust based on common purpose is incredibly inspiring to me. Whether those communities are physical, or digital, our ability to draw together has been amped up in ways we couldn’t have imagined a few short months ago.
Our ability to communicate with each other has taken new forms and the best communications have been those that share our emotions – our humanness – our gratitude for each other!
Right now, our common threads are communication, trust and purpose. If we can gain clarity on our purpose, the WHY behind why we’re doing what we’re doing, and we can communicate that truth – we’ll find a way through and we’ll build a new form of resilience that is kind and strong as opposed to bullet proof. If we continue to take responsibility for ourselves, we will keep ourselves healthy enough mentally and emotionally to be able to check on the rest of our teams and make sure no one is left behind.
New communities of trust based not on place, but on purpose. That’s something I want to be a part of. That’s something I want to help grow.
by Christen Killick
June 8th, 2020