Leading Oneself in Tumultuous Times


Posted on January 1, 1970 by Blake Leath

In the past month, with increasing frequency, a number of people have asked, "What suggestions do you have for our people during these difficult times."

Here are 3 that I hope may prove helpful across the following weeks, months, and years:

1. Control What You Can Control.  One of the greatest mistakes employees and leaders make during difficult times is to be distracted, worried, or altogether consumed by forces and issues outside their control.  I always encourage people to think like archers and 'aim for the bullseye.'  Aim for what you can CONTROL, then INFLUENCE, then ANTICIPATE, and let the rest go.  (Write it on balloons and set them free in a field, or Pray them away, or Tell a friend and then drop it.  Do something, then nothing... rather than just "gripe, worry, fret, vent.")

2. Accept that Difficult Change is about three things -- Perceptions (of loss or gain), Feelings (of worry/regret or hope), and Choices (to disengage or engage).  During tumultuous times, attend to your thoughts and what you 'tell yourself' about change (e.g., "Do I sense loss or gain here?").  Attend to your feelings (e.g., "Do I feel afraid, worried, regretful, angry, hurt, betrayed, confused?").  And own your choices... because during Change, WE are responsible for the choices we make.  Some people choose to be 'reactive,' others 'inactive,' and still others 'proactive.'  The choice is yours....  Generally, when people perceive LOSS they have NEGATIVE FEELINGS and they DISENGAGE.  But when they perceive GAIN they have POSITIVE FEELINGS and they ENGAGE.  As a leader, always attend FIRST to people's perceptions and the dramatic tapes they play in their heads.  Modify the tapes or, as some have said, 'rewrite the code,' and you can change a great deal for the better.  (As, for example, in cases of addictions.)

3. Manage your Energy and Attitude.  During difficult times, energy diffuses and attitudes degrade.  To lead others, help them 'arrest' their energy and focus it on something they can Control or Influence, and where they can experience some 'tiny victories.'  Do this, and their attitude will improve correspondingly as they realize they are not corks bobbing in the ocean.  Employment comes and goes, but our Personhood is for all time.

In closing, remember: During times of tough change, a great leader's focus will shift appropriately to tending to 'people issues' also and creating the healthiest possible environment because, without this, patients die on the gurney from sepsis and infection resulting from the toxicity of their environment while we unwittingly busy ourselves with the wrong things.

Better to do the right things 'satisfactorily' than the wrong things 'exemplarily1.' 


1And yes, it IS a word! https://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=exemplarily