On waking up every day, we decide how we are going to give our energy leadership. If we don’t, then our energy goes all over the place and it leads us. Success is a result of giving energy focus, of many small congruent actions going in the same direction.
One dark winters’ morning I was up early to beat the rush hour traffic for a presentation to the partners and senior partners of Deloitte. I remember looking at my bed and thinking, “No one will know if I don’t make my bed this morning. My sons are away, and my domestic helper doesn’t work today. Is it really important to make my bed?”
A small voice inside me answered, “Leadership is all about how we shepherd our own energy and the energy of others. We have to choose to bring order to chaos. To give energy direction. Making your bed is a very tangible, concrete example of bringing order to chaos, and choosing the direction of the energy.” So, I made my bed and in doing so I created a great opening story for a company and an industry that was in complete turmoil at that time.
As I drove to my destination, it also occurred to me not for the first time, that I had the privilege of the platform. That morning I was being given the leadership mantle by the partners and senior partners and I needed to shepherd my own energy in order to bring order to theirs. When there is fear and panic in the ranks, as we are ALL experiencing right now, with the COVID-19 crisis, we have to take particular care to give our energy leadership at this time if we want to emerge still in business on the other side.
Entrepreneurs are in a unique position to be able to pivot and respond quickly and flexibly to shifts in the market and the economy. While some will not survive the impact of the pandemic such as someone who sells tickets for cruise liners – that proverbial boat has sailed, others are able to be highly responsive – to take their businesses online, change the products they are producing to meet a current essential need and more.
The rules of the game are changing – daily at the moment. Shutdown, lockdown and everything that goes with it is a moving target. A flexible mindset and perspective are great assets at this time. If we have them, as entrepreneurs and small business owners, we will be able to find collateral beauty in the collateral damage – to spot sparks in the ashes. A fixed mindset that holds onto limiting beliefs such as, “But this is the way things have always been done,” and, “There is no way to do it differently, will not get you anywhere.” Even large organisations are looking to entrepreneurs who are nimble and flexible to help them find solutions for the provision of healthcare equipment to deal with the crisis.
Just yesterday, Netcare put out a request on a Facebook group for people with 3D printers, to each print up 10 units of the plastic head attachment for the facemasks Netcare staff urgently need, sharing the design online. They will have within a day or two, all the parts they need that would have taken an average company two and half months just to create the mold for. Yes, the rules of the game are changing dramatically, and so are the opportunities and the players (let’s not forget the pressure too!).
I have just got off the phone to an entrepreneur who took one of our country’s business schools online with 48-hours’ notice, quickly and inexpensively, ten days ago, enabling the institution to continue and not shut its doors like most of its competitors. It’s an inspiring story of agility.
One of my colleagues, who is also an award-winning speaker and best-selling author, was asked to write a book in seven days just before lockdown, by a major publishing house due to his track record of being able to churn out a new book every six months. As an author myself, having written books of 365 pages in 4 – 6 weeks, I know that to write one in 7 days is extraordinary. And he did it!
Not only did he rise to the challenge by collaborating with many small business owners around the world for ideas, on how to virus-proof small businesses over this challenging time, but the publishing house has turned the book around in one month from beginning to end – something that “just could not be done before”. I know, because I have published a few bestsellers with the same publisher and they struggled to get the book on the shelves with four and a half months between receiving the final manuscript and delivery to the bookstores.
Parenting full time while working from home
Any business owners and entrepreneurs who are also parents are now working from home unless you are providing essential services, and you have your children with you full time. While most parents have told me over the years that they wish for more time with their children, they are now quaking in their boots to have 12 hours of awake time with their children, day in and day out, while also trying to balance the demands of work. This is not a small ask. Children need your attention as parents on a normal day, and now they are also suffering from extreme anxiety and panic – everything has changed as they see on the news a dystopian drama unfolding in masks and hazmat suits coming to a town near you. They too, need you to provide leadership for their energy so that they can cope better over this time. Parental anxiety is way more infectious than the COVID-19 virus and needs to be kept in check.
Whether you are leading a team in business or a family, here are some tip for giving your energy leadership:
Takeaways For Winning At Home and Life
✔️ Provide a routine. On a daily basis, not just in uncertain times, children need the safety, security and predictability provided by routine and structure. Make sure that you have a routine even though they are not actually going to school.
✔️ Eat at least one meal together every day. Over this time dinner works well and is a real gift of connection.
✔️ Share the Sweets & the Sours game over dinner to help everyone provide feedback and an emotional barometer for their day. Download it here.
✔️ If you need to get a coach or a counsellor, get one. Talking through your fears, feelings and challenges will help you give your energy leadership instead of being trapped in your own inner world and possibly even freezing. It will help you both personally and professionally.
✔️ Listen to your children and your partner. Ask them what they know about the Corona Virus, what have they heard? Listen to them without interrupting. Thank them for sharing. Tell them what you know and understand from reputable sources. Create a family plan for COVID-19 together. People always feel more secure when they know there is plan in place and what they are each responsible for doing.
✔️ You don’t have to completely hide your fear from the kids, they are so perceptive they pick it up without you even saying word! However, you do need to allay their fears by sharing with them that you have a plan and that no matter what happens, you love them and are there for them.
✔️ You need to remain the captain of the ship, no matter what is going down around you, for there is never a leadership vacuum. If children sense the leader is missing in action, one of them will feel the responsibility to step into the breach, and they will take on the burden of responsibility unconsciously, trying to fix what is wrong or feels out of control for them. They do this from the youngest of ages, it is quite incredible, but it is inordinately stressful for them.
✔️ Another important thing for parents to bear in mind is not to feel guilty that this is happening. The COVID-19 pandemic was out of your control. If you feel guilty about the impact of this on your children, you will be putting them in the driver’s seat and that is a scary place for them to be. It will be even scarier for you when they start to pull your chain, manipulating you and hitting your hot buttons. You will cave in just to keep the peace and because you feel so sorry for them. This holds you prisoner and keeps them frozen in a victim space, not taking responsibility for their feelings, choices and behaviour. You don’t need that additional stress at this time.
Takeaways For Winning at Work
✔️ Check in with your team daily – a short team meeting to remind them that they are still part of a group will go a long way to helping them feel a sense of community.
✔️ Check in with individual team members regularly one-on-one.
Enable them to be heard by using the Sweets & Sours Game as an exercise in sharing and listening to each other. Download it here.
✔️ Keep them in the loop regarding the big picture. In my work with teams one of the most common factors that comes up under ‘what weakens a team’ is that the leader doesn’t share the full picture with the team. The big picture is what everyone is contributing to and working towards. Over this time of massive disruption, it is still very important, even if you only have an interim big picture for the next week or month. We are all in new territory, making it up as we go.
✔️ Helping your team get a handle on their skills, work rate and attitude over this time will be vital to keep up morale and productivity. Even if the current goal or Success Journey is to learn how to operate efficiently remotely, the fundamentals still apply. If you need help with your team you can look at doing an online Success Cube session with me. Click here for more information for an individual session a group session. It’s funny how when we are under severe stress we can lose sight of the basics, letting our fear and the complexities of our situation take over.
✔️ Talk to your teams about the concept of energy leadership and that it starts with the basics of:
➖ Making their beds every morning is the first signal they put out to bring order to chaos
➖ Having a regular routine – wake up and bedtime, mealtimes and end of the workday
➖ Getting dressed for work – it is a mindset
➖ Making sure they attend and contribute to team meetings
➖ Encourage some form of mindfulness or meditation to keep calm and focused over this time. It could be done as part of your team meeting. There are some amazing free apps you can utilise.
➖ A bit of exercise every day should also be encouraged to get some oxygen pumping around the body, giving the endorphins (happiness hormones) a good kick. I have a step in my office and every hour I do a few minutes of steps. It helps!
➖ Encourage them to seek coaching or counselling if need be, to keep talking and stop themselves getting stuck. Have you got an EAP programme they can hook into?
I fully acknowledge, having been through major personal trauma after the murder of my husband in 2017, that COVID-19 is a traumatic experience for everyone: adults, children, employers, business owners and entrepreneurs alike. We will all have to grieve life as it was, letting go of that picture and embracing a new one, in time. And, right now, we don’t know what that new picture is going to look like.
We just have to keep walking, and keep moving forward, one step at a time, supporting each other and choosing to give our energy leadership. This too shall pass, we don’t know when it will end, but everything always does. Crisis is an incredible catalyst for change and reinvention if you can view it in that way. Doing crisis together is better than doing it alone.
Much love and stay safe.
Human Potential and Parenting Expert helping you win @ work and life
Nikki Bush is an expert at empowering individuals and teams to win at work, home and life. She has the knack of putting difficult, complex and sensitive topics on the table (ones we often prefer to avoid), and making them accessible, such as disruption, death, loss, team dynamics, sexuality education and your kids, money, parenting and so much more. You may have seen or heard her weekly slots on Radio 702 and SABC3’s Expresso.
Nikki has written four best-selling parenting books with major publishers, including her latest, Future-proof Your Child for the 2020s and Beyond, and she has fielded over 2 500 media interviews in the past 12 years. Nikki always speaks with passion, packs a powerful sound bite, provides valuable insights and will leave you with practical solutions to help you win at work and life.
For more information and a full length bio, visit www.nikkibush.com