“When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”
Lately, social media reflects how glad people are to see the end of 2021. I get the frustration, but let me ask: What are you going to do differently in 2022 to make this a better year?
Remember – it isn’t the year that determines us; it’s our choices in the year that determines us. Circumstances don’t define who we are. Circumstances reveal who we are.
Responding within ourselves and our teams to the three essential needs of people now will help make 2022 a better year.
1) Certainty. When is the last time you attended a wedding, had dinner out, went to a movie, sent your kids to school, or planned a trip without concern about whether it would be cancelled or complicated with restrictions? Managing the uncertainty of this pandemic the past two years is wearing us out. We all yearn to return to some semblance of certainty.
2) Connection. Social distancing, zoom calls, and masks have separated us. When is the last time you shook a person’s hand without being self-conscious? Or even freely gave a hug without worrying about what was appropriate? Even introverts want to reconnect in meaningful ways, collaborate freely without restraints, and get back to relaxing in another’s presence. While physical separation means to curtail the spread of the virus, the impact of increased social isolation on our over-all well-being is noteworthy.
3) Clarity. The amount of information—and misinformation—about COVID has swollen rapidly the past year and it is becoming increasingly difficult to separate fact from fiction. In our current “infodemic,” myths, conspiracy theories, scams, armchair epidemiologists, and Twitter scientists abound. Fake news spreads faster and more easily than the virus and is likely just as dangerous. We are all in need of clarity of what is true and clarity as to the direction of our lives.
As leaders coming into this new year, helping your teams respond to these needs is a vital priority. If you don’t have a title, you can become a leader by taking responsibility to turn these needs into agreements with yourself.
1) Certainty – What will you preserve? Certainty is not, as many of us have been taught, an end state. It’s a poor source of security. Embracing the uncertainty that comes with growth is a mindset. With the endless uncertainty of apocalyptic weather events, political and economic instability, and ongoing new variants, learning how to find certainty from within is the new leadership proficiency. It starts by embracing the wisdom of uncertainty. When we detach from our need for certainty and accept that uncertainty is a part of being alive, we gain freedom from our past, freedom from the imprisonment of knowing. Growth is made possible by embracing the wisdom of uncertainty. By stepping into the unknown – the field of all possibilities – we open ourselves to the creative mind that orchestrates all of life. Willingness to accept uncertainty helps solutions spontaneously emerge from confusion, disorder, and chaos. When you step into the field of all possibilities, you will experience the fun, adventure, magic, and mystery of life. Rather than waiting for the world to become certain to make you feel safe, you can find certainty – and thus security – from within. The best way to embrace uncertainty is to put your efforts on what is within your control and let go of what you can’t control.
2) Connection. How will you connect? Authentic leaders are in tune with those around them. They read people. They inspire by being connected and showing deep concern for others. They build lasting friendships. Decide to take care of your team now. With each team member, identify their unique lane and be sure that their role is viewed as vitally important to the organization. Take the time to get a “temperature read” for how people are doing right now. How is their well-being? Their mental health? Their overall state? Their stress level? Use this time to check in with people. Take time to care enough to make the connection.
3) Clarity. What needs clarifying? One of the ways to counter the uncertainty in the world is to bring clarity to the world. Here are five questions that require clarity in leadership and life: How am I feeling today? Authenticity – honesty without judgement – can inspire. What is my reason for being, my why? A life without a clear sense of purpose is diminished to drudgery. What is my vision for my life and my work in the next three years? Without a vision, we languish. How do I define success? If you carefully consider what you want to be said of you at your funeral, you will find your definition of success. How will I live? Take time to explore these questions for yourself. Then spend time clarifying and communicating with your team the answers to these questions in an organizational context. Ambiguity is a formula for mediocrity. Clarity is inspiring. And we are all in need of some inspiration right now.