When I taught at Kansas State University many years ago, I felt overwhelmed and underqualified to teach the PhD students who sat before me. I was fresh out of graduate school and these were mature students that had years of experiences in a wide range of work roles. They had raised families, they had led universities and I felt that if anything; they could teach me. As I contemplated standing in front of the class and giving a lecture, I wondered if this was the best format for this class of experienced human beings. I also had an obligation to outline my teaching pedagogy and as such – the search was on. At one point, I found something called a constructivist approach to teaching. This involved inviting the wisdom and life experience into the room and honoring the fact that what we learn and where we go will be shaped by the people in the room. So I did it. And it was hard and I was stressed – but after a year of teaching it this way. I did it for every class and I would never go back.
The global pandemic created a challenge for leaders. Some were used to always being in charge, all employees may have been in sight. We had little knowledge of what happened outside of work hours. But the pandemic necessarily changed all of this and quickly. Employees worked from home, people had to accommodate work to manage family and we learned about people in new ways. And you know what? We got better!
As we move beyond the pandemic – perhaps we will learn to lead differently. Maybe we will embrace the constructivist philosophy and invite the wisdom and life experience of everyone in the room. Maybe we will learn to ask questions about life outside of work and allow people to accommodate based on their needs so that we can get the most from them and help them stay well.
It will create angst and it will be important to put mechanisms in place, so we maintain the controls we need. As humans, we need to feel a sense of control. When the environment around us does not provide it, we need to ensure we do things to help ourselves understand where our control lies. But one of the gifts of the pandemic may be that is has forced us to create a space where whole humans are welcome at work. And the gains will be noticeable as we will be unleashing the power inside of the human heart. Something we have not been able to capture by any form of artificial intelligence so far.
These are a few thoughts that I consider as I reflect on the return to life and work after the global pandemic …
Our brain is wired to notice negative events more often. Positive emotions can really carry us through the tough times. Then we hit a global pandemic. What does that mean for staying mentally well? Maybe we need to be intentional about being grateful? And perhaps being forced to do that now will make us better. Dr. Nicole Garbana helps us to think about gratitude as a mental skill we can develop on this podcast.
Part of being psychologically safe is having honest conversation. Bréné Brown and Susan David sit down in this 2-part podcast to discuss the dangers of toxic positivity.
At Heroes In Our Midst, we continue to have unapologetically human conversations. We are passionate about the humans behind the performance. Get to know people from all walks of life. Interested in how front line workers are doing during the global pandemic, listen to the story of Dr. Chau Pham, Dr. Faisal Sidiqui or Dr. James Bolton. Wondering about our Olympic athletes and coaches, listen to many of our guests from season one. Or maybe you want to know what it is like to work with an Olympic team, then perhaps check out Dr. Wade Gibert of Dr. Cristina Fink.
One thing we know is that if you want to stay resilient during this time, work to stay focused on what you can control, keep coming back to your why and your values, embrace the opportunity to learn and get better from whatever life throws at you, and stay connected to your support team. Knowing who you are, being curious and compassionate with your emotions, and accepting help will help you thrive during this time. We are all unique and we are better together.
Fighting fear? Below are a few resources to consider as you work to manage your humanity and lean into life when you are tempted to back away.
Maria Popova offers some reflections on how to turn fear into love.
Michael Gervais interviews Tony Blauer on his Finding Mastery podcast, where you can learn many strategies to change your relationship to fear.
Ben Fanelli speaks with Eva Holland on the Heroic Minds podcast to help us learn to overcome and not overpower fear.
This TedTalk with Kelly McGonigal encourages us to change our relationship with fear.
Finally, this TedTalk helps encourages us to lean into fear, even though our natural tendency may be to lean away.
As the global pandemic may activate strong emotions, these resources can help you learn to embrace and live with these emotions so that you can continue to thrive.
Let’s work together to create brave spaces. I do a lot of consulting and I always work hard and commit to doing my very best work. But when people I work with are dominant and over-power who I am and what I have to offer, they do not get the best of me. When they let me know what they are hoping to gain from it and they trust me to do my job, I am free to create; to harness my intuition and look deep inside my heart. I can access my years of intuition and combine it with who they are, and that is when the magic happens. Creating a brave space is more than just inviting someone in. It is about creating an environment where people are free to be themselves. And in that moment, you have created a space where people can bring their whole selves.
Fear is a strong emotion and we spend lots of time trying to figure out how to manage this response. Below are a few resources to help us work through our fears.
Maria Popova shares these writings on how we might turn fear into love.
Tony Blauer speaks with Michael Gervais on the Finding Mastery podcast about redefining your relationship with fear.
Eva Holland joins the Heroic Minds podcast to talk about how to overcome and not overpower fear.
Please visit our new website, heroesinourmidst.ca and consider following on social @heroesmidst (on both twitter and Instagram). We are proud of the stories we have the privilege of sharing. We have learned so much from each of guests. We started with a legend coach, our coach, Mike O’Shea. We moved onto health care heroes who are working to keep us mentally and physically well during COVID. And then we learned the story behind the broadcaster, Ron Maclean. Each interview includes a real conversation and insight into who they are as people. And from each person, we learn, a lot.
Remember, we also have resources for each guest, called the Heroes Journey. If you are an athlete or coach, check out the Human Series; a partnership with Pro Prep Academy. Also on our website: heroesinourmidst.ca
And if you are prone to a mid-week slump, Wellness Wednesdays is for you. Find that on both instagram and twitter @heroesmidst
As Dr. James Bolton says, “people are the most interesting elements of the world”. We agree! And we are thankful for all of our guests and each of you.
Toogood Consulting & The Heroes In Our Midst Team