Most of us are feeling scared and uneasy right now. Uncertainty, worries about our health, our loved ones, our jobs and more are causing many of us to lose sleep at night. However, Karen McGregor, author of The Tao of Influence: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Leaders and Entrepreneurs, believes some good can come out of this ordeal.
“Now is the perfect time to dissolve fear-based beliefs and be a powerful example to others,” she says. “In times of uncertainty, it’s the real influencers who step in and make a big difference to those who are struggling with the unknown.”
In order to do that, she says you need to address your own fears and develop habits that will help you now as we fight the COVID-19 pandemic, but will also serve you well when life is back to “normal.” Here is her advice to overcome your fear and effectively lead your employees during these scary, challenging times:
Learn to grieve your losses and release your pain
A lot of what you’re feeling right now is grief. You are grieving the loss of your life before COVID-19, and you are also grieving collectively with the rest of the world. Let it happen and feel those emotions. Stifling it or ignoring it won’t make it go away.
Start noticing your fear-based wording and then cut it out
Words are powerful: They can lift our spirits, or they can drag us down in an instant—and others with us. Notice the words you say and find better words to use in their place. Instead of saying, “I’m tired,” say, “I’m going to have a nap, and when I wake up, I’ll feel refreshed, energized, and ready to work or play.”
“In the time of coronavirus, the words you speak and even those you think matter greatly,” says McGregor. “Complaining phrases such as, ‘If only …’ and ‘Remember when …?’ are likely to come up frequently. Challenge yourself to go seven days without uttering one complaint. After managing that, go two more days without engaging in complaining thoughts.”
Start meditating (finally)
Why should we meditate? Because it helps us detach from our preferences—which trigger our need to be “right” or “in control” and lead to suffering—and practice being in the present. Just set aside 15-20 minutes to sit quietly and focus on your breath. If your mind wanders, that’s okay: The point is not to judge the thoughts that stream endlessly into your consciousness but to allow them to ebb and flow without getting emotionally hooked.
Clean and declutter to create “environmental stillness”
A messy space at home contributes to a disorganized and chaotic mind. But if we can take small steps toward establishing stillness on the outside of us, we can experience more internal peace, wellness and harmony within. If you haven’t already done so, take advantage of the extra time you have at home to clean and organize your spaces to promote balance and stillness.
Observe each room and notice what creates unsettling thoughts. Does your office lack a system for filing bills or random pieces of information? Do your bedroom clothes and accessories not have a “home”? Take inventory, commit to doing something about it, and set a date for when it will be done. The entire house can be completed in one month—or even much sooner.
When you feel angry or annoyed, focus on gratitude
Tempers and tensions flare in stressful times and in tight quarters. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself getting irritated with your family, with the peanut gallery comments on your social media feeds, with the endless news cycle, or anything else.
When this happens, turn your focus on what all you are grateful for. This can help to supplant old patterns you’ve relied on for years. If you are angry with someone or arguing endlessly, remove yourself and ask, What is the gift in this moment? Try to reframe challenging circumstances as opportunities and practice appreciating them. This is a form of gratitude: to be able to see the good that is present in every situation.
About Karen McGregor:
Karen McGregor is a leadership and influence expert, international keynote speaker, and the best-selling author of several books, with her most recent, The Tao of Influence: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Leaders and Entrepreneurs, debuting in June 2020. As a speaker sharing the stage with Tony Robbins, John Gray, Deepak Chopra, and others, Karen knows how to support leaders to become influential modern-day mystics in the boardroom, in their communities, and on the global stage … all while taking the necessary action to produce sustainable change.