As leaders, it’s important that we role model the way and set positive examples in everything that we say and do. As the COVID-19 pandemic begins to tighten its grip on the world and the impact of social distancing begins to take hold, these are some of the things that I am doing to build the resilience required to lead in these testing times.
1. I am doubling down on my daily gratitude practice
Every morning I am reminding myself about the things that I am grateful for. My family, my health, my friends and the opportunity that the future holds (even in these testing times). I think about those less fortunate than myself, particularly those severely impacted by this pandemic. I ask myself about what I can do to help and I pray that they will at some point find peace.
2. I remind myself that I’ve been here before
I was in America on 9/11 and just about to begin a software engineering degree when the dotcom bubble burst and the markets collapsed. I was a consultant working in the Financial Services industry during the 2008 crash. I was working in London during the 2005 bombing and 2011 riots. Each of these events have a few things in common for me. They were periods of great uncertainty and worry. They were periods that I overcame and prospered. They are periods that I know will come again. My father used to tell me, “have hope, this too will pass” - something which I am reminding myself every day. If you want to read a decent book on this, read “Unshakeable” by Tony Robbins.
3. I train myself to build resilience
Psychological resilience is the ability to mentally or emotionally cope with a crisis and therefore the only way to build resilience is to spend more time in crisis. Of course, this sounds a little silly and I don’t wish for anyone to spend time in crisis, but the facts are that life is filled with crises - large and small and you should prepare yourself for those events. For me, I found that running and cold water therapy have helped me to build resilience. I hate running. So at that 2.5KM marker when my mind is screaming “Mark stop! you hate this! you don’t need to do this! your legs are sore etc etc”, I push that little bit further to the end and I remind myself that, in the end, I’ll be happy that I pushed through. Same with the cold therapy. Check out the Couch to 5K and the Wim Hoff Method for tools to help you here.
4. I ground myself in the necessity to help others
Raising necessity is a habit of high performers. In times of crisis, I raise the necessity to be strong, resilient, caring and inspirational because I’m a leader. I’m a leader at home, in my wider family, amongst my friends, and in my business. It’s necessary for me to help them get through this crisis and to be the leader that they expect. I have no other choice as they are counting on me. I’d highly recommend you spend this time reading High Performance Habits by my mentor, Brendon Burchard to learn how to raise necessity. He's currently giving it away for free.
5. I surround myself with hope and inspiration
For the last number of years, I’ve been getting a daily dose of inspiration from the School of Greatness podcast by Lewis Howes. It’s such an uplifting way to start your day and regularly features individuals who have overcome great adversity to go on and prosper. I’d also highly recommend the How I Built This podcast by Guy Raz as it features a number of startups that grew out of the last crises and businesses that have weathered numerous crises over the years.
6. I keep myself healthy
I have my vices like anyone else and I’m having to remind myself (OFTEN) that having to socially distance myself is not an excuse to give up on my health goals. I have a great deal of help from Rory Girvan and the team at HENCH who are delivering my training and nutrition plans remotely via Facebook. The coaches also deliver a healthy amount of “boot up the backside” if they feel you are slacking. Something that works particularly well for someone like me who appreciates that type of motivation.
7. I spend time with my tribes
I am blessed to be part of so many different tribes and in a job that has skilled and made me comfortable with building connections remotely using technology. I’ve used the term tribe here as I think it better describes a collection of people whose primary motivation is to support and champion each other. I’m using WhatsApp, Zoom and Microsoft Teams to connect with friends, family, peers, influencers and work colleagues on a daily basis. I’ve also convinced the luddites in my tribes to embrace this new way of interacting. I’ve even attended my first remote dinner party hosted by Kim Gray!
8. I am learning something new
I am an active learner and I am regularly participating in some form of online learning. There is just so much choice out there these days and I find it a more productive use of time than Netflix (which I absolutely love but has its place). I think the thing I love most about online learning is the structure. You will have gained a new skill in X weeks' time. I find that really exciting and it keeps me focused as I progress through the different modules week by week. Perfect for a time when you have to stay in your home. Udemy has a great collection of courses. Personally, I am working my way through Roger Love Perfect Voice and Storybrand by Donald Miller.
I hope this serves you and gives you some inspiration on how to overcome the situation we find ourselves in so that you may lead the people who are counting on you. I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on this - particularly any other tools or techniques that you use to lead in a time of crisis.