Pushing through your own personal edge
Well here we are, a new dawn and a new day. Many still hold on tight to an old notion of the world we locked out, sent home and quarantined until further notice as the rest of us look forward, tracing opportunities out of an unfamiliar business landscape as we all transition and find our place in what we now call, the new normal. Before us lies a blank canvas with abundant ways to change, transform and thrive, yet equally we are faced with abundant ways to fail and fall hard. Like an astronaut stepping out of their ship for their first spacewalk, many of us face the ambiguity of job loss, budget cuts and economic uncertainty with great trepidation. Yet the best astronauts who have pushed forward would probably quote late American psychologist, Dr Susan Jeffers:
“Feel the fear and do it anyway”
The fear is real right now with many of our clients achieving remarkable transformation amidst unprecedented global change. In our courses and coaching sessions, our crew has held the space for countless professionals who are finding their feet and recalibrating their careers despite conflicting feelings of impostor syndrome and an awkward sense of ‘survivor guilt’ once they find relatively stable ground. One thing they all have in common is remarkable commitment, coachability and open-mindedness; a deep seeded faith that somehow, everything will be okay. Thinking through our own experience as a business navigating the asteroid field of COVID-19, many of us have taken our first leap into the abyss and just like an astronauts first spacewalk, here is what we found has helped.
An astronaut wouldn’t dare take their first space walk without the confidence that comes with their space suit so why would you? Just because we are stepping in new and interesting directions, doesn’t mean we need to be reckless. Instead of focussing on what you need to do to keep busy (which is a fear response in itself), take time to focus more on who you need to become. Before committing large sums of money and time to a new career path like we used to have to do in the old days, take your time to try the suit on for size first. Do your research, ask questions, get your hands dirty, volunteer and connect with those who have made the leap before. And in the Age of Connectedness, it has never been easier to access knowledge bites, stackable learning and mentors via the web and social media without investing all of your lifesavings and remaining years on earth. Walk a mile in your new shoes and allow yourself to build confidence at a more realistic pace as well as safely plot your course through the stars with the support that connected technology enables us to do.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
When astronauts step out into the ambiguity of deep space, they are in constant and tethered communication. Blocking out the random radio waves, they tune in and focus on communication both from their human crew and robotic communication devices. Right now it is more important than ever to stay in constant communication with our customers, teams, networks and loved ones to keep us focussed, motivated and on target. It is equally important to block out unresourceful information and communication from sources that thrive in the negativity and reactivity that seems to be as big a pandemic as COVID-19 itself. As we enter the Age of Connectedness, this means radical transparency of doing what we say and saying what we do. Realising we are not alone and that there are others forging paths forward can be liberating and inspiring. Now is not the time for old school tactics of withholding information for political agendas and egos. It is time to stand with humanity in inclusive and collaborative ways.
Feedback vs feedback
Keeping feedback channels clear is essential when focussing energy during a transition or change. As we move boldly forward into the future of work, we need to distinguish between Feedback (with a capital “F”) and feedback (the interference and noise that makes it difficult to hear and think). When I say Feedback, I don’t mean writing essays about each other once a year and rating each other on a performance system like we did in the industrial age. Nor do I mean getting feedback from every body and soul within 360 degrees of us like we did in the information age. With statistics indicating an increase in anxiety and fear across the world, this new age calls for us to be discerning with what information we accept and what we reject. Limit feedback to and from those who have the behaviours, knowledge and results you are looking for and ignore everything else. Imagine if Neil Armstrong listened to the noise made by the millions of earthlings who believed he was insane for aiming for the moon. Resist the downward pull of the conforming herd and trust your instincts.
Doing something new means learning something new. Many of our clients have accepted that despite the list of degrees and letters in front and behind their name, nothing could have prepared them for COVID-19. Many of us are forging new career paths, building new businesses or taking on roles that are no longer as silo’ed as they were before. Our learning up to now got us to where we are today, and that isn’t saying a whole lot given the current state of our nations and political systems. Teams and individuals that are thriving in the space age don’t hide behind degrees and years of experience, but rather keep a growth mindset, knowing that our future of robotics, AI and remote connectedness required ongoing and continuous learning. Every time an astronaut does a space walk, there is always something new to learn and in a universe where the only constant is change, perhaps it is time for us to accept that our learning doesn’t finish after university or school either. And the best news is learning no longer belongs to institutions, but rather to those who have results and are willing to help. As much as you learn, share your knowledge, and empower others forward.
I end off with a quote from a book I am currently reading that really resonated with me during the current economic climate:
“In any event, you will want to go as far as you can in cultivating your uniqueness and the originality that goes with it. In a world full of people who seem largely interchangeable, you cannot be replaced. You are one of a kind. Your combination of skills and experience is not replicable. That represents true freedom and the ultimate power we humans can possess.”from “The Laws of Human Nature” by Robert Greene