Align your inner compass and stay on course!
The balancing act between yesterday and tomorrow...
Mindfulness. Mindful Leadership. We’ve been hearing these terms for quite a while. Now is the time to actually practice it – or to check how far you have actually progressed in your own practice...
The current situation is mercilessly forcing us to be fully present in the NOW. What needs to be done TODAY? How do I deal with the new situation in THIS very moment? And the situation is absolutely new, unprecedented. No one has ever experienced it before. Mindfulness begins with the question, “What am I thinking?” and goes on to: “Is that doing me good or is it weakening me?” “Can I accept the realities I am currently faced with?” Such as: simply staying at home. Abstaining from my usual social contacts. Just being at home with my family. No school/university/childcare. WFH wherever possible. How does that feel?
However it feels – this is everyday life from March 16, 2020. We do not yet know how long it will stay this way, where it will lead and what will be left at the end of it. And at the same time, we’re dealing with the challenges of the moment: How do I keep myself and my team on track? Demanding normality in an exceptional situation – is that possible? And does it even make sense? The current situation demands a great deal from each of us, but especially from managers: Reassuring others when all the certainties around you are crumbling. Making decisions when one's own resolve is starting to waver. Setting goals without having a meaningful set of rules for a completely new situation. Which rules do we still need and which ones should be abolished immediately or replaced by new ones? And new rules that make sense in the future – what do they look like? Now, more than ever, we need to be calm. Calm – an important word. A clear perception of our own patterns of thought and behavior is essential in order to consciously act in the best possible way and not to resort to desperate knee-jerk reactions. Decisions should not be driven by the fear of loss but with a view to new possibilities. The best mindfulness exercise right now is to not unconsciously follow every thought or impulse, but to look at where this thought is actually coming from.
We all want security. Control. That's how our brain is wired. Then everything feels familiar and we know what to do. But fundamentally, this security does not exist – it never did. The current situation only proves a fact that we have always tried to ignore. Leadership – especially at the moment – requires inner "being led". Because it is impossible to support others if we have no sense of inner support. This has, of course, always been the case – but now, when every form of external support is faltering, it is indispensable. THIS is “Mindful Leadership”. All this has been in vogue for such a long time... But often just as an empty phrase, accompanied by unconscious thoughts and actions. No wonder many people dismissed it as an “esoteric trend” – and rightly so, in that case. The basis was and still is, first and foremost – self-leadership.
Now we all have the opportunity to check how good we are at it, how seriously we take ourselves: How mindful am I in my dealings with myself and others – my employees, colleagues, suppliers? Now, in this exceptional situation, when everything is not hunky-dory and the share prices are not on a steep upward trend... THAT is the true practice. This is the only chance we have to stay on course in these uncertain times. Maybe not onwards and upwards for the time being, but onwards towards the future. “Growth for a new time” is the motto, personal growth included. Everything is new, illusory certainties evaporate into thin air. That much is certain. And we are right there, experiencing it live and in person! For the first time, because this has really never happened before! “Being there is what counts!”...isn't it? But it only counts if we are fully present, fully aware, i.e. if we remain completely centered. Then it will be possible to emerge from this intense time, a time during which – and this much is sure – much will also be lost – stronger and not weaker, as individuals, as a team and as an organization. So – what is self-leadership right now? First of all: accept legitimate fear, look at it...observe how it then slowly fades...or lingers a little...it will likely return shortly anyway...but if we look at it, if we don’t try to distract ourselves with displacement activities, it becomes less intense. And THEN take the lead: Accept insecurity, think up scenarios, try them out, discard them. Admit your mistakes, don't make the same one a second time. Make sure you are centered, stay with your own feelings, don't try to motivate others until you are. We need more than just “think before you act!”. Now the motto is: “First of all, become calm. That's all. Breathe deeply. Stay calm. Then think, then act.” And carry on. Expect surprises. Let go of the outlived. Recognize new opportunities. Accept things as they are, make use of them wherever possible. We are entering new terrain. This involves enormous risks, and, at the same time, opportunities. We don't know where exactly to find them yet, because the map is only just being drawn up. But the inner compass is already there. Finding your way to it is the order of the day.
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