What Gives YOU Courage When Courage isn't on the Schedule?
Have you ever found that when you have a crazy busy week ahead of you at work is when things come out of the blue and you think…really…now….seriously? I had one such week a couple of years ago. What made me think of it? I'm glad you asked! Two things.....
1) The Wish Walk was this past weekend and it is always a humbling and inspiring event that reminds us that giving (and receiving) help is a critical part of our humanity. Yesterday I was on the giving side and someday I may be on the receiving side…you just never know what hand you will be dealt.
2) Four years ago our dear friends had their youngest daughter go through open heart surgery and we were all hands on deck to support them through it. (Facebook was kind enough to give me that poignant reminder.)
SO…as the story goes…..Our close friends (like family) the Bishops had their 8 year old daughter Lily go through open heart surgery. I know they were very apprehensive about it and I wanted to support them as much as I could. In between consoling my oldest daughter (who was having boyfriend issues at the time) & travelling for work, I was texting Heidi as she went through the six insufferable hours that Lily was under the anesthesia. Once out of surgery, Lily had to have her chest left open for 24 hours so that if there were any complications they could correct it quickly rather than opening her up again. Heidi said that seeing Lily’s heart beating in her chest would have been cool if it hadn’t been her kid. Lily got out of intensive care the next day and she was a CHAMP. I am glad I made the time to stay with them, stay in touch and just keep cheering them on from afar. I had a few teary moments in airports as we had our exchanges on Lily’s progress but that is what friends do. Heidi at one point said “thanks for being my rock”. I wrote back that I was a bleary, red eyed rock…so more like a sponge. She said “that makes two of us and thanks for crying with me – it helps to know it isn’t just me”. As it turns out…we don’t always want rocks we want friends that will cry with us and share our grief…being strong is over rated in certain circumstances.
So…what does all this have to do with our leadership journey? I saw a Ted.com video a while ago entitled “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are” by Amy Cuddy. One of the big take a ways was.... if you can control your body language and stance it can have a positive impact on how powerful you feel even if you don’t feel all that powerful. That was exactly what happened to me. I was not feeling up to the meetings or the travel but I focused on things that made me feel more powerful than I was feeling. Things like, wearing clothes and shoes that made me stand taller and feel good about myself. This resulted in me actually standing taller, delivering a strong hand shake when I met people, smiling and being present even though I was distracted. As a result (just like the video said) I felt my stress levels drop and I was able to take each event moment to moment, not allowing myself to be over whelmed by all that was going on…just taking it all in stride. I think that in our leadership journey, we can’t just be good when everything is going well…it is about learning to be good when life gets in the way (which it always will) and things are not optimal.
Lastly....as it turns out…the week that all of this was going on, we had attended the Train Concert as a family (the calm in the eye of the storm). One of the songs that followed me all through the week was “Bruises”. The point I took away from the song was that, we all have bruises or things that happen in our lives and it’s just good to know that we have friends that will support us through it. Sometimes we are the supporter and sometimes we are being supported. Either way – you have to forge forward at work and at home because that is just what we do. I know a lot of us have a lot of varying degrees of bruises and in the grand scheme of things my bruises are minor compared to some. Never the less…we need to ensure in our leadership journey to take it all in stride and be mindful of those moments when it matters most. Especially in those moments when we don’t feel like it…take proactive...positive steps till we feel better and work on our body language to help give us courage even when courage isn’t on the schedule.
Leadership questions of the week for YOU: “What bruises have you experienced recently and how did you work through it so you continued to feel powerful or to get through it?” “Do you agree that being able to adjust and feel powerful can bring down your stress levels which is what everyone wants in leaders – people that are calm through crisis – personal or professional?”
I’m on the road again this week! Life is good, we are lucky to have the life we have…some minor bruises and all.
Thanks for reading….and remember…YOU make a difference!
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