ACH! I’m in Crisis! Now what?!
What’s the metaphor to describe the pain and suffering you are experiencing? Are you….
Or Backed into a Corner?
Here are some crises of this order of magnitude that leaders shared with me over the past few weeks:
- We got the big ‘C’ word diagnosis
- My child is suffering and had a breakdown
- My partner had a medical emergency and will take months to recover
- I had a surgery
- My father had a stroke and passed away
- I didn’t get the job; the survey had hyper-critical feedback; I’m in a no-win, no-growth position
- I got fired; I quit
When life happens and we find ourselves in crisis-level or severely-compromising life circumstances, we need to adjust, sometimes on a dime. This space, this liminality, is a doorway, neither what was nor what will be.This winter I found myself awaiting major surgery necessary for my health. It wasn’t emergent, so as such, it was postponed several times due to Omicron and hospital overwhelm. Furthermore, the recovery required some healing margin for 6-8 weeks. Finally, I had surgery. It was surprisingly manageable, except for the fatigue, unpredictable capacity of my energy day-to-day, and the time my physical body needed to bounce back. This is nothing compared to what many people face in terms of pain, long-term treatment, or chronic illnesses.However, the experience inspired me to capture some of the ways we must adjust when we find ourselves in unexpected crises, overwhelm, or suffering.Adjusting for Crisis includes the following:
Cover the basics
Eat. Sleep. Breathe. Move. Whoever is able must continue to do these things amidst a crisis. Food. Nourish yourself. There are so many options here. Healthy take-out, raid the freezer, grocery store prepared food, meal subscription plans, neighbors’ goodwill, food delivery services. Sleep. Our bodies only heal when we sleep. Friends and family are consistently reminding me that naps are acceptable.We started meditating (breathing) and walking daily. I walked a block or so (SLOWLY) within a day of being home. I’m gradually restoring my strength. Getting outside daily (almost) for a walk has been terrific!
We are a team for a reason. When we need help, we must ask. Ask for what you know you need, but also ask for people to be on-call to support the unanticipated needs that may arise.
What is most essential? Fulfilling those responsibilities is crucial. For me, essential is remaining connected with my family and delivering on expectations for my contracts. This meant sometimes the kitchen counters weren’t clean, the laundry waited, and we still aren’t set up for outdoor springtime. I said no to committees, professional development, coffee dates, and projects. I haven’t pushed my business forward. Lots of things are sliding, waiting, and being put on the backburner. It’s to be expected.
Tend to Your Heart
Emotional regulation is more difficult when you are in crisis, in pain, on medications, or walking with those who are. Possibly the crisis is one of mental health. Make sure you have safe places to notice and name your emotions. Then, make values-based decisions about your next steps.
Shorten Your Planning Cycle
As a leader, you may be capable of monumental shifts, deliverables, or achievements in relatively short timeframes. In your new reality, consider focusing just on the day, maybe the week.
Healing takes time and intention. This has to be your priority. Your goal is to be fully restored. So, following the doctor’s orders and giving space for rest matter. Resistance exacerbates; surrender soothes.
Be Gentle with Yourself
Brain fog, slip-ups, big cries, or setbacks are normal. It will take patience. Thanks to those who are reminding me!
Don’t be Afraid to Laugh
In conclusion, we lead who we are. So, our leadership is based on our life experiences. They weave together in an unending journey. When we are prioritizing healing, it is imperative that we adjust and share along the way…
For the sake of the children,