Letting go is adapting to the current situation. It is opening up and being aware of the stuck places inside. It is worthily being flexible to change and not clinging to situations which are comfortable but not truly healthy for you or getting you to where you want to go.
This long weekend I did a four day silent meditation retreat. It was powerfully grinding to a halt everything that I had been pursuing actively to be present, to be mindful, but to mainly just allow my mind to witness and observe what was going on in my mind and let go of any attachments.
I realized through that process that letting go is mastering who we are. It is flowing with the currents of life and not trying to control or debate true reality. It is letting all of the deep joy emerge from our true selves and letting that shine through. It is fully being alive each and every single moment and not looking back with regret or forward with worry. It is truly being.
I feel so grateful for the experience of true inner rejuvenation. What are you grateful for? What do you need to let go?
As we all have been in a changing environment for the last 3 months I have finally learned to let go of control. Whenever I doubt myself or lose faith in things I allow myself to focus more on putting myself into action, in trying to force or make things happen, but mainly not allowing things to freely flow or dance with life. Without the dance often work or life situations would not flourish but whither away and die which I never quite understood or couldn't seem to stop myself from pushing or forcing things to happen.
But now with Covid and with the forced slow down for a while I realized that all is happening without my controlling it. And just flowing with the change is much easier than struggling, pushing, forcing, and/or working hard all the time without any results. Instead I got quiet, meditated a lot more, listened to the intuition that was heightened as a result of the meditation and took action on it.
My intuition seems to always be right and whenever I follow it I immediately am not worried, forget about challenging those who I participate in the actions with but mainly I allow the dance to occur. I am listening to the still small voice within and not negating its presence and/or not listening to it. When I do that I realize I am no longer forcing things or trying to be in control, but I am allowing and thereby being flexible, adaptable, and finally in the flow.
How can you let go of control and be in the dance too?
Well it has been a heck of a last couple of weeks. On top of the Covid Situation there was the terrible death of George Floyd and its associated protests and speaking out here in Washington DC and around the world.
From a leadership perspective we have to stand up for what we believe in. For me that is equality for all and one particular group is suffering we stand up to support them and right now that is the African American population in this country. My heart was shattered hearing of the news of George Floyd and many others before him. I ran down to the White House one morning this week and saw all of the signs the protesters hung up. It was profound. Change is necessary and has been for a long time.
What can we as allies and leaders do to support this change?
As many of us have had a lot of time at home we have had a lot of time to reflect? What is important? Are we on the right track? What path do we want to be on during this time and as we think about the future? As a result what changes do we need to make?
As I have reflected during this time I am very proud to feel like I have been developing the skills and tools necessary to put myself on the path of wisdom for a while now. While it was a hard journey sometimes (self-awareness, and breaking down old habit patterns) I discovered that I truly value going deep within and being deeply present. During this time I sat down and watched "The Last Dance," which documented Michael Jordan's last national basketball championship with the Chicago Bulls. In the last episode one of commentators said that what set Michael apart was that he lived in the present moment. Michael had said why would I worry about a shot I have not yet taken?
Being in the now is where the brilliance is. As a leader, as a parent, as a person the present is the only place we are able to be and develop and take action from. When our mind is wandering from the past to the future (as it is wired to do) we miss the only place we can truly be happy and/or make change in our lives.
How can you get present and access your own brilliance within? Whether you have extra time right now or are busier than ever, make some space to reflect and be in the moment. There are tons of great apps which help you to become mindful and/or I have started a YouTube page with a lot of short Mindfulness Moments. Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxG1Gqr9xUMiPgF2t6pNyRQ?view_as=subscriber
With the Covid pandemic in place since mid-March here on the East Coast of the US I know that I was living in a day by day mode. I was looking at things in a very short term way and not focusing on the future because it was too hard. Being in the present, while scary and very different than how I used to live, was a survival mechanism. Now, however, even though the Shelter in Place has gotten extended here in Washington DC until June 8 I am planning for the future.
As leaders while we have to look at the short term tactical to get things done, we also have to be planning for the future, shaping the vision, and bringing people along with you. Innovation and creativity may be sprouting right now as planning for the future is requiring new ways of operating. Some of the current ways of operating such as working from home sometimes may become a part of the future, getting comfortable with more and more use of technology will continue, as perhaps might the strengthened relationships coming out of this time together.
But what will be needed for the future? How can you get innovative now on who your new customer base may be, what their needs may become, and what will be important to them? While none of have all of the answers many of us are now attempting to get educated on the new possible ways to look at the world. Stay intellectually curious. Get out (virtually) and talk to different people in your network to get different perspectives. Listen to Ted Talks and read the news (in moderation so don't get too down) but find ways to open up your curiosity muscle, get new perspectives, new inputs, and talk to different people. By doing so you can begin to see new patterns, new thought processes, as well as new data emerging. That can lead to the next innovation, the next brilliant idea, or the next collaboration.
How can you broaden your scope? What new things can you learn about today? What can you get curious about which can help you think through what to do, be, or create in the future?
With the end in sight for many of us of Shelter in Place and a return to moving again in the world, although in a very limited way, it feels like life is moving forward again. With leaders right now they are working towards what a new normal will look like, planning for the transition, but also still working through this neutral zone.
What are you hoping to return to? What does the new normal look like for you? I know for me as a leadership coach and trainer in-person training had come to a standstill. All were cancelled from the middle of March through at least the end of May with many postponing or cancelling all together. Coaching work was sustainable because most of it was virtual anyways, but in the meantime we got re-tooled onto virtual platforms and I finally conducted a three day virtual training class last week. And now clients are tiptoeing back asking for virtual delivery of training.
While this neutral zone caused a lot of fear and anxiety, planning for the future was beneficial. Getting retrained and retooled was helpful and being ready when clients returned was also essential. What can you be doing right now to prepare for the return to movement? What do you need to put into place to remain healthy while going back in some ways to bits of your life pre-Covid?
Planning is going to be essential so that when things do start moving you are ready to move forward. What actions do you need to begin to take today?
Thriving? I know that sounds immature or naive or lacking in deep understanding of the world right now during Covid-19, but in truth even during a pandemic we can thrive. Emotionally, spiritually, physically we can thrive, but now also trusting that even the current situation can ultimately be good for our growth and development.
While we are suffering perhaps in not being in physical proximity to those who we love, having health issues or fearful of our financial future, there are many wonderful things coming out of this pandemic, which we may never have paid attention to otherwise.
As we have entered the sixth week of working and being at home during Covid-19 I have heard many people realizing that they do not have as much control on life, events, and/or situations that they thought they did. Leadership is often the same way. We can have the best laid vision, strategy, and plan, but sometimes outside forces take over like this pandemic did our lives.
So what can we learn from this situation?
During a time of change, especially like the Covid-19 Pandemic, people will go through the five stages of grief. Based off of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' work, the five stages of grief also relate to any change process that we go through. The five stages are:
Leadership is critical during crisis moments. People look up to their leaders and watch to see how they are going to guide things during tough times as well as to model the behavior of how they should be "being" during in a crisis situation. As leaders we may not have all of the right answers nor always feel emotionally stable during a pandemic either. At these times we might need some support in being able to manage and process our own emotional state and/or some tools to be able to manage most effectively right now and leadership coaching or training can be helpful during these times.
In virtual training sessions and/or coaching a leader can gain some skills or support on the following topics: managing through change, leading a virtual team, remaining resilient during crisis times, learning mindfulness practices to manage stress, and building emotional intelligence skills to manage your own emotional state and interact with others in the best way possible. If you are looking for support please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monica Thakrar has over 18 years experience in business focused mainly on strategy, change management, leadership development, training and coaching resulting in successful implementations of large scale transformation programs.