I realize this title might sound counter-intuitive in the current times, yet hear me out.
As I was delighting in connecting (online) with one my peer group of coaches yesterday to work and eventually process some of the emotions and realities connected with Covid-19 for ourselves, our clients and who knows, society at large, I had a feeling of gratitude for being able to have this privileged access to trained and practised people. I then felt some anguish and wondered how other people are managing all this sudden multidirectional, multidimensional global pressure which might feel like a “humongous threat against me” for some of us. How are we managing the escalating tension between having to manage so many requirements at once, from family, a disoriented work environment, 2020 shattered business and private goals, economic prospect decline, and so on? What is needed for us to start feeling we can answer this question?
This post is an attempt to make a case for us to reconnect with grounding practices as a stand for deliberate impactful action at a time where the rug has been taken from under our feet. How do we connect with the fundamental parts of our self, which allow us to lead through the challenges individually and collectively?
As an executive coach for 10 years and avid meditator who engage in semi annual silent retreats for a while I having been blessed to work with 100’s of people who taught me loads about being intentional, deliberate and purposeful. This allows me to deal with the pressure we experience in Q1 2020 very differently — so far- than I was able to in 2008, 2004 or 1997.
Here is some of what I learnt and use in my coaching practice to navigate the current disorienting context. Like many things in life, what follows is rather simple to understand yet it is so hard to practice. It is because we want to learn it at the hardest of times — when we need it the most — and stop learning it when it is the easiest to — when we are at peace — and precisely because at the time it is available it doesn’t satisfy the ego of our highly praised and overemphasized hungry intellectual capabilities.
For all the practices below, there is never a wrong moment to start; the best is “now”. Progress will depend on the degree of imbalance we are in while we meet a more or less volatile environment and how attached we are to our expectations.
- Create and practice emotional and physiological stability as a daily practice. Follow a generally healthy combination of diets to keeps our body systems healthy and able to talk to each other a language we will benefit from:
- Healthy eating and drinking diet to support our body
- Have an adequate sleep regimen. Sleep deprivation is such a strong supporter of emotional derailment as a result of creating heavily distorted perspectives.
- Enough physical exercise to activate the energies in our body and the help our chemistry to play in our favour
- Create/Follow meditation and mindfulness practice will enable us to find and expand the quietness within, to see how the only work is to trust our self, as it is, to create from it instead of searching for answers in the mind and out of ourselves. I find immense refuge in my meditation practice and was so relieved when my meditation teacher (based in England ) informed us — the Sanga — that he was going to be present and online (dedicated website https://www.theartofseclusion.com) daily for some meditation in the. foreseeable future.
- When the previous elements fall into place, we start to trust what we see for what it is. Develop a self-awareness and self-observation practice (reflective journaling). This one consists in expanding our capacity to look, learning to take the time see, feel, listen to
- What we are doing, its impact and especially what is motivating our behaviour at the core. This pillar is so fascinating that I don’t want to get started, or I’d derailed myself from the intention of this post. This is the journey towards learning about ourselves, our triggers, drivers, emotional loops and their interaction with our personality structure and so on. I stop there!
- From a place of trusting our selves, we can address more significant projects and dare to be bold: act in integrity with what matters deeply to us (our values, principles, dreams, loved ones, people, purpose) with audacity, heart and courage. Taking the time to develop enough understanding and material about the narrative of our lives, their purpose, their principles liberate our energy and its flow.
- Then comes the big questions of the smaller moments to help us focus on what is needed and what we can do now to create tomorrow. What does this specific situation, people, require me to be present to? What do I want to tell about myself when all this is over?
- Phase 2: Include others and expand
The benefit of this work beyond the immense kinesthetic pleasure of self-confidence and well being is how inclusive and connected we become with others when we are sustainably emotionally and physiologically organized. From there, we are more able to be attuned to other people’s needs and humanity which then create the opportunity for more pertinent, intentional collective leadership.
All of this looks most probably nice but then why are we not doing it? What are we up against?
We are facing the same mechanism we described above with a different set of conditions which generate a very different outcome: fear, shame, guilt, and other drama.
- Disorganization and distortion prevails
- Distorted perspectives on what is happening.
- Practice diligently evading and ignoring what is actually happening to us emotionally, physically and getting jolted by is only when it starts to become unbearable.
- Finger-pointing, blaming, contempt, apathy, being frozen, and son…ring a bell?
Let’s talk about fear for today and see how it relates to each one of us: it is a dramatization mechanism which prompts us into an endless set of over-actions as an attempt to take back control of the ongoing situation to create safety. Despite the usefulness of the mechanism in the first place, its main drawback is the intensity of this survival mechanism which forces us to isolate from more constructive behaviours — for initially good reason — for too long which then disconnect us from the natural incline of our specie to build together. This is where the hack is: the timing and isolation.
I believe that having the humility and the courage to slow down, to recognize our fear for what it is “a temporary belief in our incapacity to deal with the ongoing situation” is the surest way to find our selves and exercise the courage to act with integrity, intentionality for our well being as well as the one of the people around us.
None of us knows how the current pandemic will pan out, yet we can do our best to be grounded and connected with ourselves to find our way to each other when tackling a very collective issue.
Meet you there.