How to find serenity in times of uncertainty
When we look at the state of the world – climate change, a pandemic and then on top of it war and unrest creating worldwide turbulences – it is not difficult to understand why many people are worrying when they consider their prospects for the future.
Having spoken with quite a few CHROs over the past year or two, many told me that the proverbial “fuse” gets shorter and shorter with many in the workforce and seemingly insignificant occurrences are enough to make them blow up or fall into depression. And while we can probably all relate to this, the question remains, what can we do to improve the situation – for ourselves and for the team members that we are responsible for?
First, we need to understand what is actually going on – the old myth that there is a work-life balance is just that – a myth. Life is not separate from work; work is a part of it and people bring their life with them to the workplace. If the barrel is already full to overflowing with private stress at home or from worries about a pandemic, a war or both at the same time, well, then it is not surprising that not much is needed at the workplace to actually let it overflow.
The first and foremost thing to do is to stop ignoring the elephant in the room. Once we are ready to acknowledge that we are all in a difficult situation and we cannot simply demand from a person that is seriously scared to switch to “professional behaviour”, then we can come to an understanding that we need to be more compassionate with each other.
The first principle of creating an environment where people really do want to engage and thrive is that we need to create security. And while as team leaders we (probably) cannot make the pandemic and war go away, we can create a culture of mutual support and caring beyond what we had before the pandemic. Humans are social beings and we can deal with adversity much better when we have a feeling of belonging and feel that we are supported by a group that we know we can rely on, where we are ready to face what is coming together.
“The first principle of creating an environment where people really do want to engage and thrive is that we need to create security.” – Martin Laschkolnig is Founder and CEO of the Institute for the Development of Potential.
Secondly, it is a wise decision to reduce our zone of concern to where it matches one’s sphere of influence, as I call it. The problem is that when we get inundated with for example, world news that we cannot do anything about, it is very easy to feel overwhelmed and lost. Once we reduce our concern to the matters that we have control over, we will feel more empowered again.
After all it is each one of us who must decide as to how to deal with uncertainty. If we become aware that we always have the choice to “love it, change it or leave it” then we have already taken the first step to take our power back – to be in charge of what we actually are in charge of – our reactions to the events that are happening. We cannot change the events that happened, and neither can we control the outcome, because life has too many variables that come into play. What we can control – and that is our responsibility – is our reaction in the present moment.
So, decide consciously to mostly care only about what you can influence and let the other stuff go – you cannot do anything about it anyway. A good first step could be to stop watching the news. Switch to written news, choose a reputable newspaper with actual information in their headlines, scan those to see whether there is something there that you absolutely must know about and skip the rest. It will do wonders for your serenity and your sanity on top.
Thirdly, create (or help team members create) routines of self-care. One can do this for oneself or also in a group. Examples for this are to adopt conscious relaxation routines for body and mind, like Yoga, meditation, Qi Gong or other practises like that. I personally love techniques from the field of Energy Psychology like “Tapping” or “Tapas Acupressure Techniques”.
These techniques feature a physical component like tapping or holding acupressure points combined with introspection and reflection to release the stress that we have built up while being exposed to life. I have been running groups to do these practises online since the beginning of the pandemic and the results are stunning. Find the routine that helps you, even just taking a walk in nature regularly can be very helpful – whichever it is and make it a regular habit. Any one is better than exposing oneself to a stressful environment without any break.
Fourthly, take care of your relationships. When the going gets tough, we need people around us who we can trust, who will listen and console us when stuff goes wrong, and help us back on our feet and support us. Be such a person yourself for your family, friends, and co-workers. If everyone is, we will fare much better regardless of what the future might hold.
And lastly, do not take things so seriously. Sure, give things the attention that they deserve, but keep also looking for the funny side of things, regularly put things in perspective to realise that most of the things we are making this huge fuss about are actually not all that important when we take a step back and consider them with regard to the bigger picture.
Therefore, serenity is not a destination, but a process. Just like we brush our teeth twice a day, because for some odd reason we keep up the habit of eating stuff, similarly we also need mental and emotional hygiene practices as we keep on chewing on the problems that life serves us every day anew. What new self-care habit will you intensify now, or will you adopt a new one?
About the Author: Martin Laschkolnig is Founder and CEO of the Institute for the Development of Potential. For more insights into how you can help your employees re-centre themselves at wok, join Laschkolnig at HR Tech Festival Asia 2023 on May 11, where he will be making a keynote address at 10.15am (SGT).