Dear Leaders (Friends)
“Below the line” has been my almost permanent existence these past few weeks. How about you?
The “line” is a clear divide. In any moment we are either “above the line”—in curiosity, possibility, openness and abundance or “below the line”—closed, defensive, needing to be right/superior, feeling scarcity.
In conscious leadership we use five core emotions to describe our current state: joy, creative, anger, sadness, and fear. These days, my emotions cycle quickly. Most often, I am angry, sad and scared. Joy and creative feelings make guest appearances.
Before I share some of my own journey these past weeks, I want to pause and thank you for whatever efforts you are making to lead your business, protect your family and Islanders. Our legacy of how we collectively lead through this pandemic will only be known much later.
As some of you know, COVID-19 has been my preoccupation since we skied in Wentworth in mid-February. A scientist friend had been making strong arguments since early January to take it very seriously. While in Wentworth, my cousin Alex told me that his very bright emergency room doctor friend was also predicting a global pandemic. That tipped me into a full-on campaign mode.
I started having conversations asking people to prepare. These conversations didn’t get much traction, so I turned up the volume to metaphorical “screaming from the roof tops” at my family, friends, colleagues and clients to pay attention. I saddened, angered and exhausted myself in the process.
In hindsight, while my intentions were very noble—to get us all acting early to prevent the worst—I was coming at things from deep fear and a certain measure of wanting to be right and prove others wrong. As exhausting and strident as I was, I don’t think I would change it. I believe I did wake some leaders who have influence. And I certainly learned a great deal about myself and my leadership.
I have been “Switzerland” for most of my life. I am normally fairly neutral and calm.
My biggest learning has come from choosing to take such a strong stand and experiencing what that is like.
It’s been quite a ride. I have been laughed at, dismissed and judged as over reactive. I think certain people have avoided me. Others have thanked me for leading and caring so much.
Overall, I have learned that I can stand for something and people will ultimately stick by me, even if they don’t share my view. I am learning that some things are worth taking a risk for even if my own ego takes a beating. And I am learning that I could have gotten a lot more curious to engage people in a conversation to create a “win for all” versus trying to be right or spread fear.
It would be great to be able to tell you I’ve shifted to leading from “above the line” more consistently right now. I cannot. It would be a lot to expect.
Instead, I notice that I am still coming at things from deep fear. I am trying to control things that I cannot. I am getting into small disputes with my parents, my friends and even my daughter. Sadly, they are people I need the most. These are the people I want to protect. These are the people I love the most. And yet, from fear, I am pushing them away at times. I am creating the exact opposite of what I want and need. I have tears in my eyes as I write. The biggest lesson of all for me is that I need to accept myself and others. We are all fumbling through.
And finally, I am grateful for many joys that have snapped me out of fear for short times this past week—sunshine, bike rides, connections, good deeds.
One of those joys is our Chandler Coaches team. We care deeply for each other. We are meeting regularly via video conference to keep facing reality together. We’re committed to supporting each other and our clients. We’re using this time to face what’s unfolding. We’ll quietly create loose plans that we hope will serve our clients in new ways going forward.
We know you are all facing realities of your own. Today, I simply wanted to connect and share.
Conscious leaders are in constant creative response to what is occurring now. We can resist or we can respond. Bit by tiny bit, I am learning to drop the resistance to create what I want most. How about you?