Getting your head in the right place? That’s not stuck in the sand, or up your own backside, or in the clouds, it is firmly and squarely on your shoulders, looking ahead with a steely gaze driven by a strong sense of self and bounded optimism - I CAN do this.
Getting your head in the right place is about recognising what you can impact and what you cannot, what is within your control and what is not. It’s about not losing sight of the big picture, not forgetting about the journey you are on. It’s about recognising your role in that big picture, considering who relies upon you to get your bit right - keeping cool, keeping measured, keeping focused and keeping on task. It’s is also about maintaining our humanity and recognising that within our colleagues.
What do I mean by maintaining our humanity? I mean we are who we are - fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, daughters and sons, lovers, best mates, colleagues - we are human. We are fallible. We are emotional, but we are tangible - we are real. We should not hide who we are and we should seek out to understand others. At the moment I know many are finding it hard to juggle the demands of work and home, of child care and conference calls, of nappies and spreadsheets, of dog-walking and phone calls. We try to conceal the family and deny its existence. Don’t. We all have our other side. Bring it to the front. Share the real you. We can be both. Both a brilliant work colleague and a brilliant partner or guardian, and at the moment, there are no clear boundaries between the two, so let’s try to be the best we can be at both, and recognise the potential tension, but relax - be human - you are.
And what big picture do you play a part in? We can all add value to the lives of others, be that within your work or you community. We all play in a bigger picture and recognising that we do is all part of getting our head in the right place and ensuring that we serve those that rely on us.
And how does the new impact us? We are inundated with aggressive sensationalist opinion - a mixture of both fact and conjecture. Governments the world over are trying to get a grip on the pandemic. The media seem to have lost sight of their responsibility to be journalists, as the headlines scream of looming disaster.
But what is in our control? Two precious powerful elements can always be ours, and that is our HUMANITY and our REACTION. In Victor Frankyl’s excellent and moving book, Man’s Search for Meaning, he shares, that even whilst incarcerated in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany, his sense of self and being, gave him the strength to continue, and that, with consciousness, comes choice - there is a gap between stimulus and response, and it is that space that we control.
So what is within your control? Make a list of anything and everything that is worrying you or distracting you, write it down - for real, physically, literally and then comment next to it. Can I control or change this? If “yes” then just do it. If “no” then the next question you have to ask yourself is - “how can I manage this and cope with it, so it does not knock me off course”? By stopping and writing down both the concern and the solution you are creating that gap between stimulus and response - that conscious gap that gives you control and gets your head in the right place.
And lastly, I spoke of bounded optimism? What do I mean by that? A few years ago a very good friend of mine was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. It was a tough time for him and his family. Just before the lock-down I managed to catch up with my chum and his wife. We drank wine and spoke about all and nothing. I noticed that both he and his wife had matching bracelets inscribed with the simple phrase “this too shall pass”. I enquired. “When I had cancer”, my friend replied, “I knew deep in my heart that it would pass. I learnt that nothing is permanent. Happiness and sadness, pleasure and pain - they will pass. The turbulence of a relationship, the joy of a triumph, they all pass. When there is sadness, we say “this too shall pass’ and know that better days are ahead. When there is happiness we say “this too shall pass” and know that we must be present and enjoy these precious moments.
Covid -19 “this too shall pass” Let’s make sure our head is in the right place - and that is firmly and squarely on our shoulders, looking ahead with a steely gaze driven by a strong sense of self and of bounded optimism. I can do this. We can do this.