Stay connected. Talk to others about your anxiety. We all have it so don’t view it as a weakness. While I’m certainly not a psychologist, I know that sharing your feelings and concerns with others is vital to your mental well-being. There’s the old phrase “misery loves company” and while I don’t know how helpful it is to have a bunch of people sit around and talk about miserable things, I believe the underlying principle of that statement means that none of us wants to feel like we are alone.
As a part of my series about the things we can do to remain hopeful and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Todd Davis, EVP of Chief People Officer and 7 Habits Expert, Franklin Covey
Todd Davis is FranklinCovey’s chief people officer and The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Get Better: 15 Proven Practices to Build Effective Relationships at Work and Everyone Deserves a Great Manager: The 6 Critical Practices for Leading a Team. Todd has more than 30 years of experience in human resources, talent development, executive recruiting, sales, and marketing. He has been with FranklinCovey for more than two decades, and is currently responsible for global talent development of employees in more than 40 offices reaching 160 countries. Todd led the development of many of FranklinCovey’s core offerings and world-renowned content. He is a 7 Habits® expert and has delivered keynote addresses at the leading business industry, and association conferences such as World Business Forum, Chief Learning Officer Symposium, Association for Talent Development (ATD), and HR.com’s LEAD Conference.
Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Like many, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be “when I grew up.” At 62, there are days I still wonder 😊. I did understand at an early age that I had quite an imagination. At times my parents worried that was ALL I had. That imagination has served me well, particularly in the creative areas of the roles I’ve had. Much of my career has been in training and development roles where I help write, develop and deliver work sessions to help improve people’s habits and behaviors. But another skill that I innately had from a young age was that of problem-solving. Not the “Rubik Cube” type of problem solving, but problem solving between people. I’ve always been a peacemaker, but there’s a lot more to it than that. I’m not sure when I first learned what the word mediation even meant, but evidently I was very good at it. So I gravitated towards, or was always promoted towards roles where that skill was crucial. And imagination, as well as empathy, play a big part of that. I’ve learned that if you can step back from the emotions of a situation, really take time to understand the others perspective, and then picture or imagine what some different and better outcomes might be, you can help others get to a much better place. So I would summarize that what brought me to my specific career path, including my current role as Chief People Officer, is going with my natural, innate strengths. Something that I continually coach others to do as well.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I’ve admired and been influenced by many wonderful authors and thought leaders throughout my life. One of them is Stephen R. Covey. I first read his best-selling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, 27 years ago and while it sounds dramatic, it changed my life. So much so that I went to work for what was then known as The Covey Leadership Center, now Franklin Covey. By trying to incorporate the timeless principles of the 7 habits in my life (and note I say “trying” as it’s an ongoing journey), I’ve become a better employee, leader, spouse, father, and every other role that I have. This book continues to truly help me understand who I am and prioritize what is most important for me.
Another person and author who has had a significant influence on my life is Seth Godin, the most influential business blogger in the world, as well as a best-selling author of numerous books. I’m also honored to call him my friend. One of Seth’s books that had and continues to have a profound impact on me is titled Linchpin. A linchpin is a piece of hardware, like a clip, that goes through an axle to keep the wheel from falling off. A tiny piece of hardware that is critical to the operation of the machinery. Seth’s book is all about how to make yourself indispensable to a team or an organization. Adding value by perhaps seeing something others don’t see, or making a connection where others have failed. It’s not an ego driven approach. It’s not an “I want everyone to know how important I am” type of thing. It comes from a place of truly wanting to make a difference and to deliver the best you’ve got. I first read this book at a time when I was struggling with the contribution I really wanted to make in life…the legacy I hoped to leave. I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone who wants to make sure they are spending their time on those things that really matter.
Many people have become anxious about the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “3 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
This is a challenging time of uncertainty for sure. And the playing field is leveled. Whether you are a stay-at-home mom or dad, a CEO of a large corporation, a world-famous actor, a receptionist for a small company, and the list goes on and on, we ALL are fearful of getting this virus or of a loved one getting it. And we all are fearful of the short-term and long-term impact this pandemic will have on world economics and the world in general. I start with that to remind everyone that we are all in this together. So, what are my top 5 reasons for being hopeful?
- We have technology today that even 50 years ago people would never have thought possible. So our ability to continue growing and developing businesses, albeit in a way very different than we’ve done in the past, is showing up everywhere. As I participate in transforming our own business to that of a virtual business, I see us doing things that a short while ago we would have thought wouldn’t work….and it’s working…..and that gives me hope.
- We have some extremely brilliant people in the CDC, the WHO, and other organizations who have dedicated their lives’ work to learning all they can about epidemiology and how to deal with a pandemic like we are experiencing. It’s not a quick fix and we need the world’s cooperation, but the knowledge for the best way to solve this is there. And as I watch and listen to these professionals, I can see the path…….and that gives me hope.
- People are good. When you strip away the status, the titles, the labels, and everything else this pandemic has done, we are all just people here on this planet trying to exist and survive. And while there may be a few “bad apples” as my dad used to say, at their core, most people are good and compassionate and just want to help. In the last two weeks, I’ve seen such great acts of charity and kindness. A neighbor going door to door just checking on his neighbors to make sure they were okay or ask if they needed anything. A woman at the grocery store who could see an elderly person hesitant to go in and so this woman offered to go in for her and pick up the groceries the elderly woman needed. Businesses all over offering free or discounted services to help out others. Human acts of kindness. This gives me the most hope.
From your experience, what is the best way to offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
Stephen Covey used to say, “the deepest need of the human heart is to feel understood.” And I think that is the most important thing anyone can do to help another feel less anxious. None of us have all the answers….or really ANY of the answers. And while we all want answers, more than that, we need to feel heard. Not judged, agreed or disagreed with, but simply understood. Think about that family member or friend you know you can always go to and she or he will just listen. Think about how helpful that is when you need to vent or let off a little steam, or cry, or swear, or even complain. We all know ourselves better than anyone else. And when we have the opportunity to have a trusted friend simply reflect back to us what we are feeling and saying, it is the greatest stress reliever there is. Demonstrating true empathy is the greatest gift we can give another human being. When I was a little kid I used to read a newspaper advice column by Ann Landers. Most of you don’t know who she is and I have no idea why as a 12-year-old boy, I was so interested in her column, but I was. I remember to this day an article where she talked about one of the most well-intended, but least helpful things you can say to someone when emotions are high, and that is — “I know how you feel.” That advice has stuck with me for 50 years. Because no one knows how another person feels. My dad died young and your dad died young….so do I know how you feel? No. Was my relationship with my dad exactly like your relationship with your dad? No. Again, the phrase is well-intended I’m sure. But if you are really trying to empathize with another person, don’t make it about you (which you are doing when you say “I know how you feel”). More appropriate and truly helpful would be to say “I’m so sorry you lost your father. I have no idea how you must be feeling right now but I want you to know that I’m thinking about you and I’m here for you.” Or with the current pandemic that’s going on it might be “I know everyone is worried right now and I don’t pretend to know what you are most anxious about, I want you to know that I care about you and will help you however I can.” That’s empathy and that’s how you truly help someone feel understood and feel less anxious.
What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?
Stay connected. Talk to others about your anxiety. We all have it so don’t view it as a weakness. While I’m certainly not a psychologist, I know that sharing your feelings and concerns with others is vital to your mental well-being. There’s the old phrase “misery loves company” and while I don’t know how helpful it is to have a bunch of people sit around and talk about miserable things, I believe the underlying principle of that statement means that none of us wants to feel like we are alone. It’s not only helpful, it’s vital to be connected with others. And while social distancing can seem to make that more difficult, for me, it’s actually made it easier and more meaningful. Certain areas of my life have slowed down temporarily and given me the opportunity to focus on what’s most important. And to share that with my closest relationships.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
I have many favorite “life lesson quotes” but the one I think of all the time right now is by George Eliot (who incidentally was actually Mary Ann Evans who used the pen name, George Eliot). The quote is — “What do we live for if not to make life less difficult for each other?” I can only imagine the world we would live in if everyone lived by this quote!
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would refer back to the quote I just shared and my movement would be to challenge everyone to have the goal of performing one act of kindness each day for a complete stranger. I would LOVE to see a “pandemic” like that start to spread.