Finding Your Light Switch
Have you ever been in a place that just seemed dark? A place where you seemingly lost your passion for what you do. A place where you felt you could not even find your own way, let alone help anyone else. Well, welcome to what seems to have been the world of leadership in 2020/21.
There is no doubt that it has been tough, but some of the lessons we have learned have made us stronger and will stay with us forever.
But for those who have, and are, still struggling, there are times when that darkness has even blocked out our ability to draw on the resources that are there at our disposal.
We become so overwhelmed and so lost deep inside a cave of darkness, that we forget there is a switch on our helmet that turns the light on and sends a small beam to show us the way. Instead, we get so disorientated that we let the overpowering sense of darkness envelope us and we lose perspective about the way we can dig ourselves out.
To say that we have been through and are still going through crazy times, is an understatement, especially in my hometown of Melbourne, Australia.
I think I have a strong mind and have built resilience over many years, but when you don’t know what you are dealing with, life suddenly takes a very different path. You feel absolutely powerless, decisions and actions are now out of your control and things you did before just don’t work now so, we look for blame. We say things we are not proud of, all as a foil for our inability to act.
We think things we would never usually entertain. These are all indicators that we need to refocus and take back the controls of our life and our leadership.
I must admit that I struggled several times myself over the past eighteen months. Staying safe personally, being concerned for my partner, my children and my grandchildren, while at the same time having to totally reinvent my business and rebuild it to keep people employed. At times it simply became overwhelming and left me struggling to find the switch.
But, this is when we have to dig deep inside our being and pull out those skills and qualities that we have been working on for all of those years that have led to this time. When we don’t continually grow personally and don’t constantly fill the well with water, then we have nothing to draw on when we need it.
But when we have spent time building your emotional bank accounts then no matter how dark it gets, if we trust ourself and our ability to rise above it, then things can get better.
For me, it was remembering there was a light on my helmet, that when switched on got me back on track. My personal light switch was a daily process, that I still go through to ensure I stay on track. It is called my STOP model.
Every morning before I start my day, I take myself through this process to gain perspective and motivate myself to move forward. Here are the four steps to this morning ritual.
S – Settle
Settle your spirit and settle your actions. In other words, Step Back from the situation before you say and do something that you will regret and that may have a long-term negative impact. Chill out and gain perspective for the day.
T – Talk about it
Sometimes we are just too close to a situation and the best thing we can do is find someone to talk to; someone who will be honest with us and someone who will give us counsel as to whether we have over-reacted, or if in fact we are on the right track for the day. Don’t be an island.
O – Organise
This is the time to re-plan your approach and re-strategise, so that there is as little damage as possible. It is the time to remove the reactionary behaviours that would normally raise their head and replace them with strategies and actions that will make the situation better for everyone. Understand – WHY, WHAT, HOW and WHEN.
P – Proceed
It is now time to move forward and do what you have to do with renewed energy and vigour. Because, if action, or in fact a decision not to do anything, does not result from the first three steps, then it has all been in vain. Take action!
So, next time you are in a tricky situation and ready to explode, remember to STOP!
In fact, start your day using this model – it will give you some real direction and perspective.
When we take the focus from ourselves and start to focus on those that we have been given the privilege to lead, then what we do, how we feel, and what we say, take very different paths where the light stays on. This is when we begin to feel HOPE.
Unfortunately, we cannot bring HOPE to others unless we know how to create HOPE in our own lives.
Create a new way of thinking
When you go on a diet, the only way that you can truly have sustainable success is to completely change what you eat and how you exercise. Well, this is exactly the same when we need to flip our thinking in other areas of our lives. Including how we manage the tough times.
Don’t give up
So, do you know where your light switch is and how to turn it on? Maybe you didn’t know that you even had one.
There is always an answer, we just need to look for it rather than succumb to the darkness around us.
I have heard the statement – “I work to live NOT live to work”. Well maybe that is why the majority of our daily existence is so uninspiring. Both are right and both are wrong. It is neither one nor the other. When we begin to see the relevance and purpose for every part of our life, including what we do, then things become so much more meaningful. But, if they are in competition then they will tear each other apart.
As leaders, we must be warriors of HOPE, and this happens by displaying it in our own lives first.
So, whatever is happening in your life right now, no matter how dark, flip your thinking, confide in someone and change your actions so that you can start putting time where it should be – finding your light switch.