Are you wondering when we’ll get to the new normal?  In Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0, Jim Collins writes that “uncertainty is chronic, instability is permanent, disruption is common, and we can neither predict nor govern events. There will be no ‘new normal’; there will only be a continuous series of ‘not- normal’ episodes that defy prediction and are unforeseen by most of us until they happen.” Simon Sinek explained on Brené Brown’s  Dare to Lead podcast, “If you have a finite mindset that thought scares you, and if you have an infinite mindset you smile and think, “Ooh, that’s fun.”   Sinek pointed out that an infinite mindset empowers us to find opportunity in surprise.

Do You Like Surprises?

I’ve had countless coaching conversations in the past year with people who are really sick of surprises.  I am too!  Although it’s hard to envision opportunity when I’m in survival mode, I can appreciate that embracing an infinite mindset will help me adapt and thrive.  When I saw Ford Motor Company’s announcement that 30,000 employees in North America will have personalized work schedules that include face-to-face interactions in the office and independent work at home, I recognized this as an example of applying an infinite mindset to the long-standing issue of work/life balance.

The Future is Fluid

How will your team work together in the future?  Nikki Morgan, EVP of TDIndustries, a construction and facilities services company, sees a common theme emerging: much more flexibility regarding where you work, but in-person collaboration will be essential.  Nikki said, “More investment will be made in technology to enable remote workers to interact easily with onsite or other remote employees.  Offices will be de-densified to allow for more distance between people and much more collaborative spaces.  Some are looking for more real estate, while others are looking to reduce.  Although my company will probably never be back to 100% onsite, we are committed to providing safe environments for collaboration.   We have a people-centered culture built on strong relationships between employees, so we will have to work harder to ensure we still have face-to-face opportunities to build those relationships.”

Simon Sinek believes that “leaders who embrace an infinite mindset…build stronger, more innovative, more inspiring organizations. They have the resilience to thrive in an ever-changing world, while their competitors fall by the wayside. Ultimately, those who adopt an infinite mindset are the ones who lead the rest of us into the future.”  Contact cheryl@csbryan.com if you want to be one of them!

As the pandemic wears on, people are struggling more than ever with bandwidth challenges.  Of course, internet bandwidth is a common problem since everyone is constantly on video calls but limited mental bandwidth has become a prevalent topic with my coaching clients.

Lack of Focus

It’s not surprising that lack of sleep, stress, multi-tasking and distractions are affecting our ability to focus.   Right now I’m distracted by the hole we had to cut in my wall to get to a broken pipe caused by one of the worst ice storms in Houston’s history.  You might be struggling with home schooling your children, trying to get a vaccine for a family member or forecasting business results in an ever-changing economic environment.

Three Strategies

When you feel yourself starting to shut down, these three strategies can help increase your mental bandwidth:

  • Heighten your awareness: start by identifying the things that are the most distracting and why it’s essential that you change how you deal with them.  Texts and emails are persistent culprits but it might be your pet who is more fun than fully engaging on yet another team call.  Building relationships leads to more effective teamwork which impacts the bottom line.
  • Make a plan: explore resources like Ready for Anything, Essentialism and Getting Things Done to find solutions to prioritizing what is most important.
  • Enlist support: whether you need administrative support, a coach and/or an accountability partner to check in on your progress, you’re much more likely to succeed if you don’t try to go it alone.

I suggest you give yourself a break, acknowledge that things are tough and then refocus to increase your bandwidth.

Every single one of my clients has struggled with a difficult relationship – personal, professional or both.  Do you know anyone who hasn’t?  Sometimes we give up because nothing seems to work.  And then…we come back to a place where we decide it’s worth trying again because the relationship is too important.  What can we change in ourselves to achieve a better outcome?

How You Can Reconcile Differences

These steps are essential to reconciling differences and moving forward:

  1. Be clear — about what you want and what you’re willing to do
  2. Be aware — of the boundaries you need to define so you both feel safe
  3. Be brave — make the first move
  4. Be honest — acknowledge your part of what isn’t working
  5. Be open — listen without judgement
  6. Be accountable – do what you say you’ll do
  7. Be imperfect – apologize when you fail and keep trying

Do Your Homework First

Any attempt at reconciliation has a better chance of success if you first spend some time reflecting on each  step.  Picture a flight attendant demonstrating the importance of putting your oxygen mask on before trying to assist someone else.  You’re ready when you can let go of your expectations and the need to be right.  Contact cheryl@csbryan.com to find out how coaching can support you in this process.

“Wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then,” Bob Seger sang in “Against the Wind.”  Reflecting on lessons learned can be painful.  It can also be productive.

You Can’t Go Back

When my clients get tough feedback it’s my job to help them process their new awareness of what isn’t working.  They can’t go back to not knowing that their overly direct communication style is perceived as uncaring or their lack of timely follow-up is considered disrespectful.

You Do Have a Choice

Accepting feedback without defensiveness is the first step.  That isn’t always easy but it’s critical to moving forward.  The next step is choosing to change behavior as a powerful way to turn awareness into action.  Specific elements of a different approach might include tone, word choice, body language or time management tools.

I invite you to make time for reflection and the awareness that comes with it.

In 2015, Archbishop Desmond Tutu traveled to the Dalai Lama’s home in Dharamsala, India to celebrate His Holiness’s 80th birthday and share perspectives on finding joy in the midst of suffering.  The Book of Joy chronicles their conversations and their agreement that our greatest joy comes from doing good for others.

Taking the Focus Off Ourselves

The Dalai Lama pointed out that we cannot survive without other people so we must build trust by showing genuine concern for their well-being.  Research suggests that cultivating joy by taking the focus off our own suffering helps us to be available to others.  In a wonderful circle, the more we turn toward others, the more joy we experience, and the more joy we can bring to others.

Meaningful Ways to Do Good

We are individually and collectively experiencing suffering beyond what most of us could ever have imagined.  I am challenging myself and you to find more meaningful ways to do good, consider the other person’s perspective when we’re feeling sorry for ourselves, and spread joy.  That might be speaking up as an ally for someone who is treated unfairly or listening without judgement to understand opinions different from our own.

As Archbishop Tutu said, “We grow in kindness when our kindness is tested.”

So many people have lost more than their jobs in this pandemic – they have lost their identities.  They don’t know how to answer the question, “What do you do?”

Safety in Numbers

Since humans are wired for connection and belonging, it makes sense that we gravitate toward people with similar interests and perspectives.  As we share experiences, our relationships deepen and the safety we feel as part of a group reinforces our identity.  When you lose a job that severs your connection to a work group or professional association, you may struggle with how to define yourself and your value.

Who Do You Want to Be?

If you consider who you want to be and how you measure your professional and personal value, your answer might be, “I want to be a partner, parent, friend and team leader.”  Bruce Shaffer, whose position as Director of Human Resources and Internal Communication for Schlumberger’s subsea business was eliminated recently, explained that he was able to move from bitterness to acceptance by getting clear about who he wants to be.

Bruce recognized his value to family members and former colleagues who needed his support.  As he reflected on what success means, Bruce said Ralph Waldo Emerson described it best:  “To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children … to leave the world a bit better … to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded.”

What would it mean for you to believe that you are more than the job you do?