From sprint to marathon

As we begin International Coaching Week 2020, I think it’s worth reflecting that the current crisis has had a massive personal impact on us all, whether we realise it or not. From my work with leadership teams and coaching executive clients, I’ve observed that many of us feel tired, stressed and anxious about the future, as well as overwhelmed.

If we use the idea of Stephen Covey’s “Emotional Bank Account”, these are just some of the many things clients have spoken about, putting demands on our energy and emotions due to the current situation.

  • Deep anxiety and fear around uncertainty, worry for the wellbeing and safety of self and family – whether recognised or not
  • Picking up on panicky energy and upset, loss, sadness from society in general
  • Concerns about business and economy, as well as job and income security
  • Bereavements and grief at losing loved ones during this time
  • We are still operating in crisis mode, how do we move to a more sustainable pace?
  • Challenge of adapting to new ways of working in a short timeframe
  • Mental energy shift required to work online – video calls more cognitively demanding
  • Having boundaries blurred between work and home and other aspects of work
  • Caring for family and others in unfamiliar roles – feeling weight of responsibility of homeschooling etc
  • Social disconnection from friends, family, colleagues
  • Missing sports, hobbies and recreation
  • Increased demands for problem solving as well as dealing with all the other work they already had
  • Anxiety that something will be “missed” or forgotten.
  • Basic everyday things like shopping etc can be stressful
  • Missing sports, hobbies and some physical activities and a sense of freedom
  • Not taking holidays
  • Longer term fear of the unknown

There are also some positives depending on your point of view …

  • Less commuting time
  • Possibly opportunity to spend more time with family
  • Finding new and possibly more creative ways to entertain ourselves  
  • Forcing a slow down to some extent
  • Fewer cars and vehicles – reduced industry & impact on nature and the planet
  • Most people are able to focus on what they are grateful for in some way.

So there are lots of things depleting our energy, potentially draining our creativity, problem solving and ability to be productive. Some of it is within our control and learning how to manage it; some of it we just have to learn to accept.

But are we being realistic about the goals and targets we are setting ourselves – and is there some level of compassion for the energy draining factors around us ?

As people move through the Change Curve in multiple iterations, processing what is happening for them – from denial to fear, to anger – we may need to practice much more compassion for ourselves and each other.

The bottom line is that we need to really look after ourselves and our well being, so that we can play the longer game.

While many people and organisations during the COVID19 crisis have had to demonstrate incredible agility to problem solve, pivot and refocus, I propose that we will need to find ways to go from the agility of the sprint, to prepare ourselves for a marathon as this situation evolves and to find a new gear for the resilience we will need for the road ahead.

If you would like to understand how individual or team coaching can help you work through these challenging times – do please get in touch !

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