LEADing with Hope
“The reflection of my situation and that of this army produces many an uneasy hour when all around me are wrapped in sleep. Few people know the predicament we are in.”
When he penned these words in 1776, George Washington couldn’t have known how applicable they would be to 21st century leaders. No matter what our roles or responsibilities may be, many of us have spent numerous uneasy hours pondering the current crisis we’re in—one that impacts both our personal and professional families. The COVID-19 pandemic attacked rapidly with extraordinary virulence, leaving the entire world in a fight that will determine many of our physical and financial fates.
Despite our dire circumstances, each of us can implement a proven strategy for surviving in times of crises: we need to lead with a spirit of optimism and hope. In the early days of the Revolutionary War, General Washington and the Continental Army had no chance of defeating the world’s most powerful military force gathered against them. Yet despite the reality of his situation, Washington’s positive perspective empowered others, from fellow soldiers to frightened citizens.
An optimistic outlook is at the core of leading with hope, and everyone is capable of tapping into this invaluable strategy for surviving challenging times. Why? Because optimism is one of twenty-five characteristics that comprise each individual’s Emotional Quotient (EQ). At LEADon®, we define optimism as “persistence in pursuing goals, despite obstacles and setbacks.” The COVID-19 pandemic certainly constitutes an unprecedented obstacle which affects our personal and professional goals. By learning to foster optimism, we can improve our ability to endure today’s pain and move forward with hopefulness toward tomorrow’s potential.
All twenty-five EQ characteristics, including optimism, can be improved upon since, unlike IQ, EQ skill sets are malleable. Indeed, this difficult season may provide unexpected opportunities for leaders to forge new pathways of positive thinking and improved hopefulness. This increased level of optimism is crucial for you—and it’s critical for those in your sphere of influence who need you to offer strength, support, guidance, and, yes, hope. If you don’t meet these essential needs for them, who will?
Yet in times with “many an uneasy hour,” you may require some strength, support, guidance, and hope yourself. The LEADon® team, which is comprised of medical, mental health, and educational experts, has some specific recommendations to encourage you so that you can then be empowered to help those in your care. Hare a few strategies to get you started:
- Reflect on difficult situations you’ve experienced in the past. For instance, were you in a leadership role during 9/11 or the 2008 financial crisis? What approaches did you use to get through those tough times? Can you apply some of those strategies to the current circumstances? Most importantly, can your success in surviving past catastrophes offer hope as you strive to overcome the challenges COVID-19 has created?
- Make your physical health a priority. In addition to following health guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic, make sure you are endeavoring to get sufficient amounts of sleep, nutrition, and exercise so you can continue to lead well. One of our online courses, LEADers Manage Their Health®, would be beneficial to review at this time (see LEADonUniversity.com).
- Focus on mental and emotional health. Too often leaders put these two vital aspects of health on the back burner, but they are essential for everyone’s overall wellbeing. Stay connected with people who support you, particularly mentors, trusted colleagues, family members, and friends. Spend time doing the things that bring you joy. Read something inspirational every day so that you may remain motivated in this time of duress. In addition, be sure to reach out to someone who needs inspiration and your encouragement too.
- Participate in new learning pathways. During these days of ‘social distancing’ and ‘sheltering in place’, there are numerous online opportunities to curate new leadership strategies and cascade those to others in your personal and professional life. For instance, at LEADonUniversity.com you will find dozens of blogs, podcasts, and online courses that cover a wide-array of leadership topics.
In a series of Revolutionary War era articles entitled The Crisis, Thomas Paine wrote “These are the times that try men’s souls.” This sentiment couldn’t be truer for those of us in 2020. Current circumstances are indeed testing everyone, everywhere—but just as in ages past, these are the seasons that provide the proving ground for exceptional leadership. As we lead in our homes, communities, and Corporate Family’s®, let us muster our determination, strengthen our resolve, and lead with hope so that others around us will be inspired to follow suit.
Remember, you are not alone in this time of challenge and change. LEADon® is here to offer help and hope, so please contact us at 858.592.0700 or www.LEADonUniversity.com with any questions or concerns.