The stress feels suffocating. And yes: you made time to meditate this morning, to prepare for the day. But that was hours ago, and you just found out that your CEO is stepping down. Your team may be in jeopardy. What you want is some mental and emotional relief right now, so you can get back to leading. How can you recover during the stress of your worst day(s)?
Remember your ABCs
What are the ABCs?
Accept: Until you accept the facts of your situation, you will spin unproductively with mental and emotional spikes like, “Wait. Is my job in jeopardy?” Or, “I just met with the CEO an hour ago, and she didn’t tell me anything about this!” etc. The fact is, in our example scenario, your CEO is, in fact, stepping down. Grasp this reality so you can recover quickly and move on to the next step.
Build: Given the facts of the situation, what do you want to do? Maybe you want to leave your job, too, and get out while there’s still time. Or maybe you want to make a play for the CEO position yourself. Or maybe you want to remember the Power of Primary Relationships (PoP) and get on the phone, so you can do what you do best: lead the people who are relying on you to lead. The point is, once you create a solid foundation with Acceptance, you can then begin to get creative and productive with what you want to do in light of the facts.
Connect: This is where the rubber meets the road; where you achieve actual traction. This is the challenge of the Connect phase: What am I going to do? When you get to this phase of the creative loop, you’ve accepted the fact that the CEO is leaving. You know what you want to do. So now, it’s time to actually get to work.
Why I Created The ABCs
“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times…”
~Charles Dickens, from A Tale of Two Cities
Throughout my professional life, I have found myself in many stressful situations. It sometimes felt like there was a target on my back. Wherever I went, difficult situations seemed to spring up around me. At first, it was difficult to recover from the unexpected problems which threatened to engulf me. And then I realized what was happening: I had subconsciously chosen to be in situations where stress was likely to be because I am, by nature, a leader; and leaders will often find themselves at the center of a maelstrom. You may have found this to be true about yourself.
So, I thought:
How can I lead in these difficult situations with integrity and creativity, when people are looking to me for answers — often on the spur of the moment. How can I consistently do what Simon Sinek says is at the core of excellent leadership: to make the people I lead feel safe?
And that’s when I invented the ABCs. Because I am fiercely independent, I wanted a system that felt natural to me, and that allowed me and those on my team to recover quickly and move ahead. I did try to adopt other people’s models of leadership. But none of them felt “just right.” I also wanted to create something which was transferable to others, if they found my system useful. And in order to be transferable, it had to be simple and practical.
Agility and Grace
When the stress hits, and especially when it hits hard, what you want is to not abandon those you lead. We have all been in situations where, in the midst of the stress, our leaders chose fight, flight or freeze, instead of choosing to lead us. The situation that popped into your minds eye when I reminded you of a failure of leadership may have been a stressful event at work or at home. In either case, of the many reasons why leaders abandon us in our time of greatest need is that they have no system in place for when the stress hits.
When the stress hits, you want a reliable, simple system to recover quickly and move through the stress, especially during the worst case scenarios; a system of rapid response that is rock solid so you can help those you lead, to feel safe.
Feel free to use the ABCs, or to develop your own system that, like the ABCs, is a stable and reliable way to move through the disbelief and disorientation you may experience during the chaos surrounding you.
Be ready to move with agility and grace when those worst-case situations occur. If you will, you may find a great benefit unrelated to the immediate stress you will sometimes encounter: you may be more relaxed and at ease during the good times, because you’ll be ready for the worst of times.
On A Good Day
This may be the best thing about the ABCs, or whatever similar system you develop for yourself:
When you have a simple, solid system, it will work just as well on a good day as on a day of crisis. You can use the same system to lead on a daily basis. In fact, having a simple, solid system in place will help others develop trust you as their leader. The people you lead will feel safe because you have been training them all along to use a method that works to build the team and help everyone feel confident, no matter what happens today.
Confidence comes with repetition.
Develop a simple, reliable system for the worst of times, so you can confidently enjoy leading your people during the best of times.
Want more help?
I can help you develop a simple, reliable system for leading through the best of times, as well as in the worst of times.
And you have a couple of options for your next step. You could contact me and describe what you’re going through. And I’ll be in touch with suggestions. Or you can book a free session to make a time to get together and talk it over in person. Either way, I’m here to help you focus, overcome resistance, and get moving again.