This blog comes from an ex-secondary Headteacher, trainee therapist and Integrity Coaching Associate, Tim Small
In times of crisis, such as the one we are currently facing, it’s natural for our minds to become dominated by loss, or the threat of loss.
In our current climate, loss has taken centre stage in our social consciousness. Depending on individual circumstances, losses might range from something as simple as missing routine stimuli, to cancelled plans or holidays, to financial losses, even to the agony of losing someone we love.
With rolling media coverage heightening the removal of so much we’ve taken for granted, it is all too easy for fear, anxiety and stress to weigh us down and crush our spirits.
In such times, we must hold on to what matters and be ready to let go of everything else.
We must work out how to progress, from a narrow focus on our loss of normality to awareness of the opportunities that may now be open to us, which our previously overcrowded agendas might have been depriving us of.
So that we can do this, here are three ways to stay grounded and positive, in our self-leadership and leadership of others…
1) Focus on the Here and Now
For the foreseeable future, most of us will be putting some cherished dreams and plans on hold, because we can no longer be sure of what’s possible, or when.
What that can give us in return is a narrowing of focus, permission to prioritise what must be done and what can be done, today and tomorrow. Just as we can’t take our bodies all over the country or around the world at the moment, it’s as if our minds are being asked to ‘stay home’ too!
We’re being asked to ‘pull our horns in’: just do and think about what is ‘sufficient unto the day’. As long as we let go of what we’ve lost and stop craving for it back, we can release a lot of energy this way; sharpen our focus; concentrate the mind.
As leaders, we were constantly striving to be strategic, struggling against being ‘sucked into operational detail’. Just for now, not for long, if we’re still dealing with this crisis and leading others through the adjustments and uncertainties involved, we can allow ourselves to stop struggling; simply focus on the job in hand, taking each day as it comes.
2) Remember what and who Really Matters
There’s nothing like a crisis for sweeping away the inessential. What’s already gone? Sitting exams; school attendance; mass entertainment; travel; commerce; a balanced budget; even partisan politics (mostly!). Many of us are coming back to our core values to decide what to give our energy to: preserving life; keeping ourselves and each other safe; being kind; finding new ways of connecting, new ways to learn.
Learning is suddenly given a special significance: we have to learn our way through this! Maybe it would not have happened if we’d already learned!
Perhaps, when this is all over, we could rebuild our entire curriculum on these principles: loving life; loving learning; cherishing ourselves and each other. So simple! If we don’t, will there be any more point in passing exams?
3) Stop and Reflect
For some, the situation is still in flux and it’s hard to draw breath.
For others, the most frantic period of adjustment has begun to ease and we are confronted with more time and space in our lives than we are accustomed to. It seems likely that everyone, in the coming weeks and months, will experience a kind of emptiness, in hours or days that previously were full of something that has had to cease.
It is important to stop thinking about those things that are not happening anymore: put them down! Let them go! This enables two things to happen which might be essential to our health and future wellbeing.
Firstly, we can use this space in our minds and hearts and schedules, these moments, to pause and reflect on what matters most; and what does that mean we should decide to do with our lives?
Secondly, if we put things down properly, however much they mean to us, we will be able to make clean, free decisions about what we pick up again and what we leave behind for ever.
This time is precious. The globalised world has slowed down, suddenly but temporarily. It is an opportunity for us, as individuals and as a species, to make sure that, in the most healthy and life-giving ways, things are never the same again.
Support in times of Challenge
When you become a Headteacher, almost immediately you become the person who rely on and trust to fix whatever the problem is facing your school. Even on the best of days, carrying this weight of expectation and responsibility can be testing and tiring.
But this has been particularly challenging given the complex and challenging problems posed by the recent outbreak of coronavirus.
Whilst Heads are doing an amazing job in the most tricky of circumstances, we also know that this has caused a significant amount of disruption, uncertainty and change. This in turn, has served to increase levels of anxiety and place a great deal of additional stress on our Headteachers.
Amidst these rising challenges, we believe more than ever it is crucial that our leaders are provided the proper emotional and psychological support.
Without such support, we know that this crisis could prove to be both overwhelming and isolating for those who lead our schools.
We don’t want that to be the case, that’s why we’re now offering free 1:1 Coaching calls to help support school leaders through this difficult period.
If you would be interested in having a free coaching call, please follow the link below…