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8 ways to lead yourself so that you may lead others in a crisis

Put your own oxygen mask on first, so that you may help others.

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As leaders, it’s important that we role model the way and set positive examples in everything that we say and do. Never is this more important than when in a crisis. 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 really 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 has 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.

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.

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 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.

5. I surround myself with hope and inspiration

For the last number of years, I’ve been getting a daily dose of inspiration from various business and motivational podcasts. It’s such an uplifting way to start your day and they regularly feature individuals who have overcome great adversity to go on and prosper.

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 my gym. They are delivering my training and nutrition plans remotely via Facebook. There are loads of gyms and fitness providers providing the same service globally so there is really no excuse.

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!

8. I am learning something new

I am an active learner and am regularly engaged with 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 in our house). 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!

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.

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