The enormous disruption of the coronavirus affects each of us in different ways and yet, we have been living in a VUCA World (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) for a long while now, and only one thing is certain: it’s here to stay.
Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a superpower that can fuel your sanity, leadership and wellbeing — buiding up your resilience to navigate forward in positive ways, no matter what happens.
What I’ve learned through disruption and my deeper journey into mindfulness and leadership is that we can access control when life feels most out of control, for we always have the power to choose our response. We also have more power through our connections – to other people and the broader universe, which is now more important than ever with physical social distancing in place.
The metaphor that resonates for me is that we are all floating in the same ocean together, which is far more powerful than any one of us. Yet we are also unique waves with our own individual experiences within the great sea that connects us. Through this global pandemic, we can see how interconnected we truly are, underscoring both the strength and fragility of our interdependence.
Here are 5 proven ways to access more Emotional Intelligence and build resiliency now, which will elevate your energy and serve you well beyond this global crisis.
1. Fill Yourself Up First
Anyone who has flown can relate to this message: “In the event of an emergency, put your oxygen mask on first, before you tend to others.” During this time of lockdown, where we are all doing our part for social distancing, it’s easy to focus on what we’re missing as we adjust to new living and working situations. During times of uncertainty and fear, we move into fight or flight mode, which serves to protect us short term, but can be taxing on us physically and lead to burnout over time. Given we’re enduring a marathon vs. a sprint, now is the time to figure out what you really need across your mind, body and heart.
- Ask yourself, “What do I need to fill myself up?”: This can be a tough question, and Meditation, Recalibration, or just Centering can be wonderful tools to focus, listen to your inner wisdom and manage stress. If you haven’t meditated before, it’s an opportune time to start with so many apps and resources generously available. One of my favorite podcasts now offers daily live meditation, Ten Percent Happier Live at 2pmCT/3pmET. Just know that the act of showing up is success in itself; learning you can begin again in each moment. Whatever you do, approach it with kindness and curiosity. Play with whatever works for you to be fully present in your mind and body…whether exercise, music, dancing, journaling.
2. Dial up Empathy
In 2012, Google set its internal data analysis capabilities to discover what makes the best teams. One particular norm stood out as the greatest predictor of team success: “psychological safety”, where team members feel understood by others and free to speak up and take risks. When you create an environment where people can voice their concerns and feel heard, you set the stage for creating the strongest, collaborative teams.
- Check-in Exercise: Start meetings by asking everyone to check in with one word that summarizes how they are feeling in that moment. This practice allows everyone to feel seen and accepted, without judgement.
3. Three Breaths
We teach many short micropractices as part of the Search Inside Yourwelf (SIY) program, and this one is my favorites, as it’s practical, highly effective and readily accessible at any time. Especially right now, with the Coronoavirus affecting people’s ability to breathe freely, this practice is one to appreciate even more. In just under a minute, you can notice a slight shift in your mental state, elevating your energy.
- First Breath: Breathe deeply, bringing gentle attention to the breath
- Second Breath: Let your body relax
- Third Breath: Ask, “What’s Most Important Now?”
Watch Resilience in the Workplace Video: Three Breaths Demo – Rich Fernandez, CEO of Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI).
4. Moment to Arrive
This micropractice is just as it sounds, a quiet moment to fully arrive before starting a meeting. You can invite people to sit in silence for 1 minute, practice the 3 breaths exercise above, or ask “What is our highest intention for this meeting, and highest possible outcome?” We find this enables everyone to more fully arrive in mind and body, so they can be more present and productive during the meeting. I’ve seen this practice often used in technology companies and leading organizations practicing Mindful Leadership who cite results such as better productivity and communication.
This simple 4-step mnemonic device, “STOP”, helps us choose our response which can literally change any situation. In the teachings of Viktor Frankl, Holocaust survivor and psychotherapist, he beautifully expresses the possibility to choose, even in the most challenging and uncomfortable situations.
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and our power to choose. In our response lies our growth and our happiness.”
- Stop – if you remember nothing else, remember this. In almost every instance, this already makes a big difference.
- Take a Breath – focusing the mind on the breath calms both body and mind.
- Observe – notice the physiological sensations and emotions you are experiencing with kindness and curiosity.
- Proceed –think about how you might proceed in ways that would have a positive outcome, even if you decide not to do it. Then, choicefully respond.
I hope these resources are of service to you, as you navigate through this global pandemic crisis. Each of us has so much wisdom and resiliency inside, and these tools are simply ways for digging deeper to access them and keep growing. The more we can create space for realizing our power to control and to connect, the more we can navigate the game of life – disruption and all – with more leadership, skill and wellbeing.
Feel free to forward this article to anyone who you think would benefit. And let’s stay connected via LinkedIn.
Stephanie Klein is a keynote speaker, executive coach, certified teacher of Search Inside Yourself (SIY), and a brand and leadership consultant who is passionate about igniting leaders’ untapped potential to propel beyond functional to optimal in a complex, changing world. In 2020, Stephanie founded Mindfire Mastery to “fire up minds” with emotionally intelligent awareness and resilience to empower leaders’ forward momentum. She is the author of “Waking Up on the Right Side of Wrong”, to be published in fall 2020, about how the most challenging, disruptive experiences can transform our lives in positive ways. To stay connected and learn more about how she can support you, contact Stephanie@mindfiremastery.com.
Klein is a certified Energy Leadership Index master practitioner to illuminate how individuals and teams are showing up differently under stress. This understanding of where and how you’re investing your energy enables you to better achieve goals, improve productivity, communication, relationships, confidence and leadership skills. For more information, check out www.energyleadership.com/assessment.
During crisis, Leading with Purpose can help companies, leaders and individuals add value with limited resources in optimal ways. Here are four strategies & cases in action based on what I’ve seen the best brands do: 1. Focus & Filter, Northern Trust Corporation 2. Engage Employees, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, 3. Innovate & Communicate, Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI),and 4. Partner strategically, Amazon & Lyft. I hope they serve you well in finding the magic combination of purpose and performance – for building value through crisis and beyond. leadingwithpurpose consciouscapitalism mindfulleadership employeeengagement innovationculture crisiscommunications