Thanks to Coronavirus, anxiety, grief and insecurity are acute on a global scale. Consequently, for huge numbers of people, this situation has triggered deep-seated trauma and a survival reaction. Every day, things are changing and any safety, security, predictability and consistency that anyone has relied upon to navigate through life is crumbling around us.
Anxiety, fear and grief are very valid emotions. The challenge is many of us have never had parents who modelled how to work through these emotions effectively. Nor have most of us learned practical tools we can use to work through these overwhelming emotions healthily.
In the absence of certainty, many people are lashing out at the people they expect to provide certainty for them, including governments and employers. As Business Owners, we are being called as never before to stand up and be the light to the people who are employed by us. As leaders in our businesses, we must see ourselves as a lighthouse, guiding our people home.
I cannot emphasize this point enough – we must start with ourselves.
We must gain tools and learn how to effectively work through our own feelings of fear and uncertainty. I was in my 40s before I learned how to do this, so don’t worry if you’re new to this too. Early in my 40s I had the realization that even though I knew I had very strong feelings, I was the queen of pushing those feelings down. I very rarely, if ever, acknowledged them, let alone step back from, analyse and work through them. I’d have “my moment” and then just get on with it again.
Maybe you can relate?
By not dealing with my emotions and simply pushing aside, I was damaging my most important relationships and damaging my health. Firstly, all it would take was some insignificant event and those bottled feelings would explode, mainly over the people whom I loved the most and I said things I didn’t really mean and later regretted. Secondly, the stress carrying all those negative feelings inside me for decades impacted my health.
I’ve had to learn as an adult how to deal with my emotions and maybe you do too. Learning to work through my feelings has been a huge learning curve for me, and in the beginning the strategies I’m about to share with you felt unnatural and uncomfortable. I tell you this so you know it’s ok if these tools are a little clunky for you to begin with. Persist with them as a daily practice, and in a very short time, they will make a significant difference.
The first tool I’d like to share is one that has been especially helpful to me when I have a feeling I perceive as negative, such as fear or anger.
First, I acknowledge that feeling inside me.
For example, let’s say I’m feeling anxious about cashflow over the coming months.
I will say, “I have feelings of anxiety inside me about cashflow over the coming months”.
Second, I ask myself this specific rhetorical question.
I will ask myself, “What would happen if I wasn’t anxious about cashflow over the coming months?”.
Ask yourself this question rhetorically without concerning yourself without actually answering it.
You may find suggestions arise from deeper parts of your brain. Whether they do or don’t, it’s irrelevant. The outcome of this tool is to simply practice owning the feelings we have and then letting them go. By practicing this process, there have been times when I have been filled with an intense peace after asking the rhetorical question. Imagine how different your decisions would be if made from a place of peace and calm.
Another practice of mine is to write every day.
Taking time to get everything out of my head and onto paper is a great way to create ‘headspace’ and get some distance between me and my feelings. I also write down the things in life I’m grateful for. This practice reminds me of all the incredible gifts I have in my life and is a great way to frame my perspective. One of the things that I write is, “Thank you for the opportunity today to love myself and others unconditionally, to nurture our unfolding, to encourage our growth and understand our fears”. Each day I’m reminding myself that I’m grateful for the opportunity to encourage growth and understand our fears. If I’m grateful for it, it’s harder to be fearful or angry when opportunities for growth and understanding fear arise.
I also say affirmations on a daily basis.
I say affirmations such as “Today, I chose to take note of my own emotions and those of the people around me”. Today I chose to facilitate a change towards compassion and considered action”. Daily affirmations are simply another way to positively pre-program your responses to situations. By repeating these affirming statements every day, I am primed to respond rather than react when emotionally-triggering situations arise.
As leaders, we must take the opportunity to look deep within, come face-to-face with our own fears and vulnerabilities so that we can be the lighthouse for our team (and our families).
Whilst it’s important for us as business owners to learn and start practicing the tools I’ve just given you, we must, simultaneously, help the team of people in our care. In your business, do you have some employees, or maybe family members, lashing out at you?
Many years ago, I was discussing with my mentor one of the difficulties that Rob and I had in working (and living) together. Both of us, from time to time, were taking out our frustrations on the other person, even if whatever was happening had nothing to do with them.
My mentor said to me, “Faye, be grateful that Rob is taking out his frustration on you. It means that he feels safe enough to do so. At work, he has to put on a brave face in front of your team and your clients, but when he gets home, he can let us guard down”. That wisdom has stayed with me ever since. It gave me a completely different perspective and enabled me not to take his frustration personally.
Your people – your team, your family – are scared. For most people, their greatest fear is loss of safety and security. Right now, every day they are perceiving and experiencing their loss of safety and security all around them. We can’t assume that just because people of a certain chronological age are “adults” that they’re any more equipped to cope with this than a child. I regularly say adults are just big kids who happen to wear bigger clothes and play with more expensive toys!
It’s up to us to engage our empathy. Who is criticizing the government or you the loudest? Alternatively, who is withdrawing? Fear generates either extreme reaction in different people. You need to look out for both.
In a previous blog I talked about the perfect order of the universe. Even the coldest winter eventually becomes the rebirth of spring.
I was brought up on a dairy farm, just outside Amberley in the small locality of Ebenezer. During winter my father and uncles used the quieter time to repair machinery, cut down dead trees and burn them off. They would plough the paddocks. They used the hay and grain, grown in summer, to feed the cows when the grass had been burned off by frosts. They were getting everything ready for spring – the birth of calves, the planting of seeds etc.
This winter for your business will become the rebirth of spring. We have the perfect opportunity to do some things that give our people some structure right now as well as get ready for spring.
Right now, we are working with our clients to help them:
Taking advantage of the time available now to action and implement these activities will ensure you will have the right people with the right skills doing the right job at the right time.
Most importantly, this is our perfect time to build a true team. A team who collectively knows their roles, executes independently, is accountable for their outcomes and is committed to the success of your business.
If, during this winter, you don’t just ‘bunker down’, but choose to be the light for your people to find their way through the darkness, you will be richly rewarded when spring comes around again.
We are here to help.
If you’re needing help to understand or implement any of the tools that I’ve discussed today, please give Rob or myself a call. At Kaibizzen, Rob plays a very special role in our clients’ lives by helping them with a suite of practical tools, beyond the ones I’ve shared with you today, to learn how to healthily work through their own feelings and release the unhelpful beliefs we have that hold us back from achieving the life we want.
To support our business community through this, we’re offering owners of businesses with 5+ employees an hour of FREE coaching with Rob Caughey. Simply reach out and we’ll be in touch to book your time.
What does it take to actually remove yourself from the day-to-day grind of business? Learn from our panel of Business Owners who've Been There, Done That.