Happy Fall, Y'all! How has yours been so far? For that matter, how was your summer? When I look back on mine, and when I inquire of friends and colleagues about theirs, the word that routinely comes up is, "Crazy." Unpredictable. Protracted. Exhausting. Demanding. Confusing. Irrational. Tentative. Mad. Unbalanced. Erratic. Just a few synonyms for this frequently used word. As I heard one commentator say recently, "Wow, this two weeks of shut down sure has felt like an eternity." Tounge in cheek, of course, but can't we all relate?
So how do you stay positive, energized, find the good, and lead well when it feels like you don't know what's coming next? Or where it's coming from? John Maxwell has a great teaching on how to maximize a positive situation. A meeting with a mentor, an opportunity, a new venture, or any situation that you want to make the most of. And in his simple but profound style, he exhorts us to 1) Prepare thoroughly before the event, and 2) Reflect deeply afterward. To prepare, we want to have our questions ready, think through some contingencies, and consider optimal outcomes before the event. Our reflection afterward helps us to take the lessons from that experience and start preparing for the next. This sounds like a very effective and doable exercise until it feels like the world has been living in the "crazy" and any semblance of preparation has gone out the window. How do leaders make the most of these days, especially when preparation no longer feels feasible?
The good news is we've still got the ability to reflect on what's happening as well as our reaction to it, which does help us to prepare for whatever may be next. In fact, I would argue that when the days get "crazy" the need to reflect is stronger than ever. It may look a little different than reflecting on a desirable or anticipated situation, but intentionally focused reflection can go a long way in saving our sanity, our resolve, and our connectedness as a team.
There are three parts to finding the sacred amidst the crazy:
What does this look like in practice?
1) If you don’t have it already, find a 15 - 30 minute window near the end of your day to jot your thoughts.
2) Ask yourself: What happened that I want to see more of? Challenges overcome? Innovative ideas? Support from team members? Can-do attitudes? What would I do if this exact circumstance happened tomorrow?
3) Commit to calling out your individual and team wins, no matter how small. These are the energizing, life-giving, grounding, and team-aligning things that matter and will help us stay the course. The things we can do and influence in times when it feels like there’s so little we can. Jeff Henderson speaks powerfully of this concept and lays out a beautiful plan for leaders and teams in his book, Know What You're FOR. I’ve seen firsthand the difference these concepts make and I strongly encourage you to grab his book if this resonates with you. At a time when the world seems all about division and what we’re against, Henderson reminds us of the power of putting our energies and focus into what we’re FOR, rather than dwelling on or thinking about what aggravates us.
So keep pausing, keep choosing your view, keep reflecting, and keep finding the sacred and good that is still here amongst the chaos and crazy. Before we know it, these two weeks will be behind us and - if we manage them well, we will be stronger and wiser for it.