Let’s face it, spring and summer 2020 have been challenging. As HR professionals you may have been anxious, worried about your organisation, your furloughed staff, unsure how many may lose their jobs, and uncertain about what the future will bring. Realistically we are going to be living with this virus for some time. So, what options do we have? Hide and hope we still have a business at the end or do we grab the rest of the year by the scruff of the neck and get going?
Alongside everything you have to do in your organisation supporting staff it is important to look after yourself. Covid-19 has created huge problems but it has also brought some stillness and reflection into many of our lives. That stillness seems to have created a real desire for change. So what can you do?
Let’s create something better instead of some watered down ‘new normal’ that focuses on all the things we can’t do. The first step for squeezing the best out of the rest of 2020 is to embrace uncertainty. None of us know what’s around the corner. There is not going to be some miracle vaccine that saves us all by Christmas, so what do we do now and for the rest of the year? We change by adapting.
Embrace Your Innate Growth Mindset
Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck became obsessed with understanding how people cope with failures and setbacks. Initially her research looked at kids and how they reacted to puzzles they couldn’t solve. She thought that she would find different levels of resilience but what she actually found was that children, especially young children didn’t even consider not being able to solve the puzzle as a failure in the first place. It was just a game – a fun challenge. The outcome of Dweck’s research is now world famous and she proposes that our success and happiness in life comes down to one thing – mindset. According to Dweck there are only two – fixed and growth.
Those with a fixed mindset, have a fixed idea of what they are capable of, believing that what they are born with is the finish line. They tend to be more defeatist, accepting the problems without much effort or belief they can find solutions. Those with a growth mindset believe that what we are born with is just the beginning. What we are capable of is not determined by anything other than our own aspirations, effort and determination.
Interestingly, Dweck believes we are all born with a growth mindset and get trained out of it by the school system, unsupportive parents and social expectations. We are taught that failure is unacceptable – even though all great success comes through failure not by avoiding it. If ever we needed to re-assess that growth mindset it’s now.
Take a minute to consider whether you have a fixed or growth mindset? Has Covid-19 made it more fixed as you sink into a gloom? If you imagine you had a growth mindset instead – what would you do? Looking at your business and the rest of 2020 – what could you try? What have you always thought of doing but never got around to it? Lean into the uncertainty and adapt. Use it as a springboard to try things you’ve been putting off. Is there a different market you could approach? Stay flexible, open and curious.
Change Your Today to Change Your Tomorrow
What have you done today? Is that getting you closer to your business and life goals or further away? If you want a different tomorrow so you find a successful way through the pandemic, you need to take steps to change what you do today.
Stop for a moment and reflect on how you spend your time. When did you get up this morning? How much TV do you watch? How much time do you spend on social media? How much time do you spend learning something new? Do you spend time with family or friends? Are those exchanges enjoyable or stressful? How much time do you spend on your health? How much sleep do you get most nights?
Take a minute to draw a circle and divide it up into slices that represent how you spend your time during a typical day. Now draw another circle and divide it up to represent how you would like to spend your day. If you spend a lot of time at work but don’t enjoy your work, what could you do today to find a better job that you might enjoy more? Or what could you change at work today to improve your day? Identify the things you like or can live with and the things that you don’t like and can’t live with. How can you change the aspects of your day that bring you down?
Often, we don’t need to make wholesale sweeping changes; subtle little shifts accumulate to bring about change.
In 1967 psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe developed a list of 47 stressful events that could impact health and happiness. The assumption is logical – we get more stressed when bad stuff happens to us, start accumulating stressful experiences such as a job loss, illness or divorce and you are more susceptible to physical illness, disease and depression. Global pandemics and economic uncertainty don’t help either.
But, the fly in their theoretical ointment was the fact that not everyone who experienced really tough life events were negatively impacted by them. On the contrary, some of those people actively flourished. This field of study is called post traumatic growth or adversarial growth and studies have shown that great suffering or trauma can actually lead to huge positive change. For example, after the Madrid bombings of 2004 psychologists found that many of those affected experienced positive psychological growth. A diagnosis of cancer and subsequent recovery can also trigger positive growth.
The people in many of these studies found new meaning and new purpose from surviving something terrible. Instead of seeing their situation as a failure or a problem they believed Nietzsche, who said, “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger”. How can you use Covid-19 in the last months of 2020 to find new meaning and positive growth?
Take a minute to think about exactly what you are worried about most in your business and identify one thing you can do about it right now. Set that in motion. What positives could you pull from the turmoil? Get creative – think of at least three positives that Covid-19 could give you and your business. It might not be fun but if you can find the silver linings you can often move on quicker.
I’m a great believer in the power of micro moments and tiny interventions. So for busy HR professionals these ideas can be invaluable to help you as individuals and to share with others as you squeeze the best out of the rest of 2020.