27 September 2023

Time of the signs: Even tough days come with opportunities

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John Eades* says that in every difficult situation there are opportunities, and the rigours of pandemic lockdowns are no exception.

Right now, you’re stuck in time like no one has ever been.

It is not news that we are currently living in a world of unprecedented challenges; one that is seemingly stuck at a point in time that most people want to get past.

At best, we can work from our homes; at worst we are no longer employed, or have a job that requires us to put ourselves in grave danger.

In many cases Coronavirus has brought on feelings of hopelessness or doubt about the future.

It’s an essential time to remember the wise words from the late author and Holocaust survivor, Victor Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning.

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.”

Instead of giving in to the feelings of desperation and focusing on the monotony of these days on end, open your eyes to the opportunities that this pandemic may lend us.

The best leaders use this time to be successful in the future.

It’s what I have started to refer to as ‘grind time’.

Here are some ways the best leaders are using their grind time and so can you.

Reinvest in Relationships:

Relationships with other people are the lifeblood of our life on earth.

Research shows that good relationships help people live longer.

People in healthy long-term relationships are 50 per cent less likely to die earlier.

For any relationship to add a lot of value to your life, career (yours or others’) it requires the investment of time.

I was reminded in a recent interview that “relationship-building requires an effectiveness, not an efficiency mindset”.

In the past few weeks, this has come to life during hour-long family walks without my phone.

I have been amazed at how effective this has been for my relationship with my wife and kids.

The results of being fully present will improve the quality of your relationships to a degree that will shock you.

If you are leading a team at work, your people will absolutely remember how you made them feel in times of crisis.

They will remember how much you cared about them and the time you gave them.

Develop your skills:

Your skills and your ability to perform them at high levels are at the centre of performance.

The dictionary defines a skill as the ability to use one’s knowledge effectively and readily in execution or performance.

Clearly, there is a difference in acquiring knowledge and acquiring skills.

For example, you could know how to read music, but be unable to translate that knowledge into playing an instrument.

You could understand the proper mechanics in hitting a golf ball, but your score after your very first round of golf might not reflect that.

Now is the time to develop your skills, but don’t stop there. Help others develop their skills as well.

Focus not only on the technical skills but, most importantly, on leadership skills that are crucial for team members.

These are things such as positivity, emotional intelligence, communication, and growth mindset.

Focus attention on innovation:

Innovation starts with the mindset of the leader.

Innovation is defined as a new idea, creative thoughts, new imaginations in the form of device or method.

I summarise it as finding better solutions.

The best leaders are using the current decline or increase in available time to find better answers to problems, or seeking new and better ways of doing something.

They aren’t limiting it to themselves; they are inspiring innovation with their people.

One of the leaders I studied for my podcast has a ‘weekly innovation meeting’ with his team over Zoom.

During this time the team members brainstorm ideas for improving their processes, procedures, and offerings to clients.

The ideas are not all good, but he has been amazed at the problems and improvements his team has come up with.

You have the power to change the course of your days from one of monotony and tedium to one of opportunity and development.

Now is the time when you grind; reinvest in your relationships, focus on innovation, and develop your skills.

Today is when you get to start anew.

Stay safe and healthy but don’t stop leading.

*John Eades is the Chief Executive of LearnLoft a leadership development company. He is also the host of the Follow My Lead podcast. He can be contacted at johneades.com.

This article first appeared on John’s LearnLoft blog.

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