Good morning, good afternoon or good evening, wherever you are
In my previous newsletter I discussed the need for transcendent leadership in today’s world – the need to rise above adversity and the challenges of this very different and complex world. When you come to think of it, it’s not just leaders who need to do this; it is what we as individuals are all called upon to do every day as we combat the virus and its variants. How many of us or our friends have grown tired of the restrictions we face – the need to wear a mask in public, to wash our hands regularly, the need to exercise social distancing and, perhaps most of all, the need to overcome the cabin fever that encourages us to rebel against being cooped up in our homes?
So, how do we, as leaders or in our personal lives, prepare ourselves to transcend the challenges at home and at work? I recall hearing a speaker a few decades ago, encouraging us that all it takes is to “get up one more time than you fall”! Whilst that is really sound advice, it was probably a lot easier to implement in those days when the serious challenges came around every couple of months or years. Today’s challenges seem to occur almost daily and would appear to require greater consistency of focus on our part.
In fact, that is probably a good starting point in preparing ourselves mentally for the ability to transcend – it requires us, firstly, to be more conscious and aware of what is happening around us, and within us. In particular, it requires us to be more aware of our personality and its quirks, and how these quirks serve us, and get in our way. So, it requires us to consciously avoid reacting to the impulses that arise as a result of these quirks.
Of course, this too is easier said than done, but let’s examine this a little closer. What are those impulses, and when to they occur? Well, at school we were taught that for every stimulus there is a response. It is those stimuli that, over time, have caused us to habitually react in a certain way to our impulses. It’s an unconscious and automatic reaction – we’re on autopilot! And amongst our automatic reactions are good habits and bad habits.
Yet it doesn’t have to be the way we are. If we teach ourselves to be more habitually conscious, we are able to realise, and recognize, that every stimulus provides us with an opportunity to choose as how we might respond most appropriately.
As I understand it, both unconscious reactions and conscious responses involve emotions. When we are conscious, we may be more aware of them; when we are not conscious, obviously we are not aware of them – but both ways they are there! You have only to think how much more we worry and are stressed in the current environment; in fact, I have heard it said that stress, burnout, anxiety and depression are parallel pandemics in today’s world. Scientists tell us that these in turn often lead to heart diseases and cancer, diseases that apparently cause 75% of deaths worldwide! Worth doing something about?
What does this have to do with what we are discussing today? Well, if we have a choice as to our responses to stimuli, then best we choose responses that involve positive emotions, not emotions that are likely to lead to those diseases. One way we can do that is to be more conscious of how we manage our emotions. In general, we tend to either suppress our emotions or allow them to escalate. Neither of these is useful to us – suppressed and escalated emotions sooner or later lead to inappropriate behaviour and/or the diseases I mentioned. We need to acknowledge and recognize our emotions; in fact, we need to take time to understand them as they provide us with much information about ourselves and therefore a greater awareness of what makes us tick. A useful (car) metaphor I recently heard is that we need to look at our emotions like we do a dashboard (to assimilate information); we shouldn’t treat our emotions like a steering wheel to drive our behaviours.
To recap then, if we are to learn to cope with the complexities and challenges of these times, as people and leaders, the starting point of building a transcendent mindset is to learn to be far more conscious and present, to understand our personalities better, and not to react to the impulses created by those personalities.
I’d love to hear your comments of the views and ideas I have shared this week. Please feel free to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to find out more about how you might achieve, and apply, a transcendent mindset so that you are able to consistently rise above current challenges, drop me an email (also at email@example.com) so that we can explore together how my Transcendent Leadership Coaching Programme might help you lead yourself, your team or your organisation in these times.
I look forward to hearing from you.
In the meanwhile, please take wearing your mask, washing your hands and social distancing seriously at this time. Keep safe and keep well!