In my last blog, I talked about leaning into the challenge of leading right now. I said that this is one of the best times to explore new ways of working, to set yourself up for what comes next.
Today I want to revisit that, but with an eye on how you pace that work.
Leaning in doesn’t have to mean pushing yourself, or adding on more and more work. You don’t have to be the “Pinterest Mom” equivalent of a perfect manager.
You can be learning how to lead through uncertainty and adversity in a way that fits your style. You can be exploring coping mechanisms and strategies at your own pace. It doesn’t have to be a big push to be perfect or get it all done at once.
In this period, there’s so much uncertainty, so much news that’s scary or sad. Friends, colleagues, family members who are at risk, ill, even dying. In that context, we all will have moments where we need to slow down. Where we’re not quite running as fast as we’re used to running, or on top of things as much as we’re used to being. It’s okay to take breaks, to allow yourself more downtime than you might usually.
This can be another piece to learn. How do you give yourself permission to slow down, and take breaks so that you can show up for your colleagues? So you can be present and available to them. Don’t let the idea that you should come out the other side having “leaned in” mean that you have to be “on” all the time.
You may discover that the way to deal with adversity is to be clear about expectations. That in order to pace yourself, you had to be clear about what you could actually get done in a given day. Maybe you’ll learn how to decide what assignments you’ll get done, and over what timeline – and what you’ll let go.
As you work through this exploration, there’s an important distinction to make. There is a difference between escape and rest. Escape is fleeing, hiding, and numbing. Rest is taking intentional breaks and using them in a way that gives you energy.
As you learn how you best deal with adversity and cope with uncertainty, I invite you to explore that difference for yourself. See what you discover about what’s refreshing to you. Which activities give you energy and have you feeling ready to get back to work? And which ones are numbing or draining?
You can do this by becoming mindful of your activities and the impact they have on you. For example, if you habitually scroll social media, after a while see if you feel more alive and energized, or if you feel worse – drained or dumbed down. If you feel worse, then find other ways to rest.
This period is available to you as a grand experiment to discover what gives you energy, hope, life. What enables you to step into your leadership? And what gets in the way? What are the things you fall back on because they’re old methods or habits, but don’t really serve you?
Treat this as an opportunity for your own learning and growth. Then, in the end, you can say, “Here’s what I know now about how I’m able to be my best self and lead my team most effectively.”
For more ideas about how to take up leadership right now, check out my new webinar: “Leading Your Team Through Uncertain Times.” In it, I walk you through the exact strategies my clients are using right now to build leadership muscle and get results that will move their careers forward.