Clients in law enforcement and the health industries provide me weekly reminders that business is anything but usual. Old ways simply don’t work, new ways aren’t yet established, and everything feels like it’s changing by the minute.

Beyond the everyday mechanics of business, this new world order is playing havoc with the very thing at the core of leadership: relationships. In the midst of everything else, some important and maybe difficult conversations are needed, and being avoided, because of the circumstances. Or worse, old habits are being unleashed, with some leaders saying we don’t have time for niceties and fragility — we’re responding to a crisis!

Of course, that’s total crap.

Look, inside all of us is, well, all of us: our good parts and our bad, our kindness and our short temper, our love and our disdain, our hopes and our fears, our truth and our lies…it’s all there, each equally as available for the taking as any other. The question is: which do you choose?

Let’s face it. For many, these are fast-paced and frantic times. We feel like everything is a rapid decision, needing urgency and quick action. It’s not. It’s simply not. Every decision isn’t life and death, and if we treat each as such, we sustain a pace of chaos, an emotional level of disorientation, that can’t be sustained. As leaders, we control at least some of the pace. We can give permission to breathe, to take a deep breath, to pause, and to ask for input and insight.

Amy Cuddy has a wonderful TED talk entitled: “Your body language may shape who you are.” She recommends that before you go into a stressful situation, you strike a power pose; stand tall, hands on hips like Superman, chin up… and hold the pose for 2 minutes. And it works! (Someday I may tell you my embarrassing pre-speech routine…) The point is that it’s two minutes designed not just to give us pause, but to give us control over ourselves — not from a place of weakness, but a place of strength. We’re Superman/Superwoman.

It lets us attract from within us the thing we most want to bring forward and most want to attract. And it works. Not just for speeches, but for meetings and difficult conversations as well. We can’t avoid them; that does harm to relationships and progress. Worse, it gives space for false narratives to grow. In the absence of truth, we all make up our version. Why risk it?

Physicalizing your visualization can help you take control over your stress. 15-20 seconds with mine and I already feel that I’m in a positive headspace.

What’s your strategy? If you don’t have one, create one. What works best for you?  Superman pose, hopping up and down, meditation, the crane pose for balance, listening to a favorite empowering song, reading a poem that always puts you in the right head space…?  Find it. Find what makes you feel more powerful, confident, in control.

If you are having trouble, take stock of the times you’ve been successful, and name the things that worked. And, consider when things went poorly — what didn’t you achieve? Are there insights that could have helped you?

As leaders we build relationships, empower people, step into the challenging situations, and help bring out the best in each other. In these trying times it’s more important that we pause, take stock of our gifts, find our strength and confidence, and bring forward our best parts, so we can give others permission to do the same. Remember, you have it all within you. Which do you choose in trying times?



Photo by Radu Florin on Unsplash