"A Smooth Sea Never Trained a Good Sailor." – Franklin D. Roosevelt
Over the past 24 months this world has experienced the most significant change it will likely ever see. Change is not easy for anyone and very difficult for some. It leads to uncertainty, doubt, fear. If one is not careful it can lead into a downward spiral.
Change also leads to opportunity and new beginnings.
It is up to us, as individuals, to determine our ability to cope with change. We can choose to look for the positives or focus on the negative. It is certainly easier to gravitate to the swirling hole of negative thought than to focus on new horizons. Often, we will be outnumbered in groups, and it doesn’t take much to derail the positive. Personally, I have had several days where things were trucking along, only to be totally derailed by a phone call laced with conspiracy theory. It’s hard to pull out of that. I’m sure I am not alone.
I had an opportunity to interview Travis Thomas, Leadership and Team Development Specialist at the United States Men’s Soccer National Team. He has worked with the Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and a host of corporations. I thought perhaps he would have some insight on how to navigate big changes and he says, "when navigating change on a personal level, we first must understand that fear, anxiety, uncertainty, and nervousness is all normal. Especially today, with COVID, we are already dealing with tremendous change and now we have our professional livelihood thrown in the mix. Give yourself permission to have those emotions."
From a performance standpoint, at work, for instance, we need to differentiate how we are feeling from the job. It’s ok to be nervous and afraid; however, we don’t have to wait for those feelings to be gone before we move forward. Travis used a great example of a relief pitcher in the World Series. "Most likely he is anxious and nervous on the mound but will focus his mind on throwing strikes. Letting the emotions get the best of him would be disastrous. It’s not about changing the emotions, its about shifting the focus to the action." So I asked him, “What if I decide to take this approach? How do I actually do it?” His response was, "what prevents us from focusing is potentially uncertain outcomes. We spend time numerating over things that may happen and that creates anxiety. This anxiety is what prevents us from focusing on what we should do. Instead, let’s look at what we can control during change, our attitude and response. And the best way to do this is to model the behavior we wish others had. For example, if I am IN a toxic environment, I too, BECOME toxic. If I decide to demonstrate myself as a positive team player and do that with intent, it will likely have a positive impact on others. You can’t force someone to be different but if you show up everyday and set the example, most likely the people around you will begin to adopt it."
We need to be intentional about the things that are super important to our success– Travis Thomas
Thinking about navigating in the "new normal" I asked Travis, “How do we develop passion about something?" His response is to “Focus on your WHY.” Ask yourself, "What is your PURPOSE?" So I invite you to ask yourself, WHY am I here? What am I doing? What is the real value I am getting from what I do?
Is it because I help people?
Is it to help my family?
Is it because it has an impact?
If we know our WHY, we will have a greater sense of purpose beyond ourselves reconnecting with what inspires us to do what we do!
If you know who you are and what you’re about, you can navigate most waters. - Jeff Vann