In our most recent post, we talked about ways to look at challenging circumstances as an opportunity for growth – and more importantly, how to step up as a leader during these challenging times. At minimum, we know that with all challenges, we must find a way to stop the bleeding – so to say – and fight our way through it. So how exactly does one overcome?
The Energy of Leadership
Let’s break this down in extremely simple terms.
To lead is the act of moving something forward
This act requires energy
There are two kinds of energy - anabolic (growing, lifting, building) energy – or catabolic (destructive, depleting) energy
Both energy types are important to sustain life (similar to that of a cell and natural progression, both kinds of energy allow time for breaking down and time for building)
In times of stress, we most often will engage with catabolic energy. Think back to the early cave man days and the common reaction to a threat – fight or flight. Stress triggers one of two reactions in our body and is nature’s way of saying “something is coming, be prepared”. We will either quickly get to safety (flight) or make extremely loud noise and scare the oncoming threat away (fight). That is natural and normal – and frankly necessary.
That reaction is required and important for us to survive. However, even though this stress reaction (catabolic energy) will protect us and allow us to get through a difficult situation, when we hold onto this type of energy for an extended period of time, the impact can be quite significant. It can keep us in a lower state of emotion (aka negativity) and action. It holds us back from being successful and leading the way that we need to. It has an impact on not only us, but to the people that are around us too.
How does one shift from surviving – to thriving?
Our body is hardwired to teach us how to survive, but what happens AFTER we hide or run away? Then what? How do we move on and thrive in this new environment? How do we get our bodies back to equilibrium and to a place where we can show up the way we want to.
Step one: awareness
Know your triggers. Know how to sense when the threat is coming. Listen to your body, to your spirit, and to your energy. Sense the shift as it is coming in. Sense your energy dip into “flight” or “fight” mode. These energies can be characterized by feelings of worry, guilt, spinning in our minds, anger, frustration, resentment and more.
Step two: analysis
Once the trigger and/or emotions are realized, it’s time to assess your options. While the first step of course is self-protection, as leaders, we don’t want to stay in a self-focused place for long. It’s time to ask ourselves:
What is really happening here?
What options do I have?
In what other ways can I look at this situation?
What are the possibilities as to why this is happening?
The important part is to really dig into the “why” behind the situation. Get curious about it and remove any judgment, bias or preconceived notions. Consider how someone else might view the situation or even what others might need in the situation.
Step three: conscious choice
Now that you have a plethora of options to consider and different viewpoints, now comes conscious choice. While that sounds like a simple task, it takes process and practice. The most important consideration now is “how do I really want to show up?”
By analyzing all of the choices – and the potential consequences around it – we can move forward with confidence in doing what is best for us and those around us. That choice ideally is rooted in anabolic energy – allowing us to grow, to inspire, to shift not only ourselves but can positively impact those around us too.
Just the simple act of choice can give us greater energy (and ignite our own personal power) to shift us into a place of greater success, more emboldened leadership, and happiness too.
Step four: practice, practice, practice
As with personal training or anything new, it takes time and practice to get it down and have it become second nature. Think about it like building a new muscle, with time and repetition, the muscle grows and muscle memory takes over. The same holds true here too.
Give yourself time for reflection and above all else, grace. You are a powerful, amazing leader and you can thrive (not just survive) in difficult times.
If you're feeling stuck and need support through any of these steps, WeInspireWe is here for you.