2020 for most, hadn’t quite worked out as planned.
That initial prime minister briefing that sent us into lockdown also kicked us off on the starting point on the famous change curve model by Kubler-Ross – ‘denial’.
The following steps on this curve are anger, bargaining and depression before we are even able to move into acceptance and meaning.
This process is similar to that of grieving. How quickly we move through each stage depends on how many times we are dealt even more change, personal circumstances and our resilience.
I am a huge advocate that as leaders; the more self-aware we can be, the more likely we are able to respond positively to change. As referred in the accountability ladder model, if we are able to see clearly the triggers that move us from our path of possibility into our path of limitation, we empower ourselves to move from ‘victim’ state, where things happen to us, and into the accountability mode ‘where we make things happen.’
We cannot be accountable and take ownership without awareness and curiosity in the first instance.
Covid is unprecedented, granted. It has had catastrophic impact on us personally, in our businesses and across the global economy. But it isn’t unlike other trauma or adversity that others have suffered before us.
How do I know this? Because in March 2017, I was told I had an aggressive breast cancer and hit one of the darkest moments in my life. I had to allow myself to sit with the news, to process it and dig deep to find the resilience I knew I had to move through the stages to reach the point of acceptance; so that I could look for the solutions where I still had control.
How you deal with most trauma, change, loss, adversity will be dictated by your strength of mind and your curiosity and openness to accepting the reality and taking ownership of your reaction to the situation you find yourself faced with.
Much of the emotions I have felt through Covid have been similar to those I experienced through my journey with cancer.
The good news; I truly believe with some insight and effort, it is possible to grow through adversity. It could start with a reflection of what 2020 has shown you:
Acknowledge how you have felt and feel
It really is ok to not be ok. The key is not to stay there. Lean into the emotions. When you have a bad day, accept it for what it is, a bad day. Get curious about what made you feel this way. Was it something that triggered you? Was it an external event that made you feel this way or was it your own internal system that created it? Listen out for the lessons about yourself but give yourself permission to sit with the emotions and let them be. Tomorrow really is a new day.
Seek out and leverage your strengths
Perspective is a brilliant catalyst for positive change. What have you learnt about your leadership, the way your business runs, those you support, your team, the way in which you work, where you work? As a Strengths Coach, I define strengths as where you naturally draw your energy (rather than your competencies) – studies show that your performance can increase by a whopping 36 per cent when you are doing more of what you love in your work. What can 2020 teach you about what makes you happy in your work and where you draw your best energy from?
What else makes you happy?
We have been forced into strange situations and environments that we may not have chosen. Home schooling, sharing our home office with our partners, working remotely. What have you hated? What have you actually enjoyed? Do you want to do more of your work online? Do you actually see the value in less of a commute to deliver for your clients? How could you change this in your business model moving forward?
What else impacts your performance?
I know that the great outdoors is a tonic for me. I need fresh air and daily walks to clear my head, close down the tabs and allow my creative juices to flow. Therefore, it was imperative that I built this into my time during lockdown more than anything else. Equally important is water and 7-8 hours sleep. What about you? What can you reflect on from 2020 that tells you more about how you bring your best self to your work?
Reward and Recognise YOU
Maybe 2020 didn’t work out as well as you had liked. Maybe you operate in an industry badly hit from the pandemic. Perhaps you decided that you would step aside from your work and concentrate on yourself and your family. Whatever the reason, don’t compare yourself with others that you believe have achieved more. We may be in the same storm, but we are all in very different boats. Simply making it to the end of 2020 in one piece (even with some battle scars along the way) may be just enough for you. Be sure to recognise the progress you have made, do not compare it to others. Give yourself a pat on the back and maybe a little reward to acknowledge you made it through!
You may not have chosen 2020 and its lessons, but like a quiet wind it is whispering in your ear something that will be valuable to you as you navigate and plan out your strategy for 2021. Will you listen and grow through it?
About the author
Leigh Howes is a successful and professionally qualified Executive Coach & Strategist with over two decades of experience observing, partnering and advising c suite leaders, founders and functions heads. Throughout her career she has recruited and cultivated hundreds of leadership pipelines and supported countless leaders to enhance their performance. She has co-authored a best-selling book, featured in Business Daily and has sat on the business panel of BBC Radio with Roberto Perrone.
Leigh is ridiculously passionate about going on a journey with business leaders. Some will be at the initial stages and need mentoring and strategy support. Whilst more established business leaders will require an executive coach and confidential sounding board to grow their leadership and impact. Either way, Leigh helps support them as they navigate their way to transforming their performance and achieving their next level of leadership and business growth.
With an insane eye for human behaviour, Leigh challenges the thinking of those she works with, is supportive and passionate about holding a space that encourages and inspires growth; whilst honest in her approach and happy to give direct feedback as required. Described by one client as an invisible crutch and regularly compared to the fictional, High Performance Coach – Wendy Rhoades from Billions.
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