Hi, I’m Ian McClean. I’m the founder of Flow Group and GreenLine Conversations. And this podcast has grown out of the chaos that’s been thrust upon us. During the podcast, I’m going to try and share with you the best of 25 years of helping corporate organizations deal and cope with change. So, as you’re out there, busy making sense of it all, trying to cope, and maybe, in some cases, trying to rebuild your organizations, I’m hoping that some of this can be of some assistance. We’ll keep it deliberately short, because I know you’re busy. Let’s dive in.

So far in the series, we’ve focused on leader’s need to be calm, to be connected and to be clear. These are all attributes that will keep people at their best whenever things are at their worst. This episode concentrates on how you keep yourself at your best when things are at their worst.

We have been conducting a number of webinars, and I’ve taken another extract from a recent webinar which explains this in some detail. Enjoy it.

The first three points that we’ve covered about being calm, being connected and being clear are all about others and how you need to show up for other people and how you need to help calm their limbic system and access more of their higher selves.

The final thing is, how do you become your best self? And this really is underpinned by the whole idea of putting your own oxygen mask on first because you’re no good to anybody else if you’re not good yourself, and this is often ignored.

Lots of leaders that we work with report something very similar to this. They spend all day, long hours holding it all together just about until they get home in the evening, and then they just go, and they burst into tears and break down, or they reach for the bottle of gin or both. Whilst you’re emptying other people’s cups, who’s emptying your cup?

And there are three things that I found that work particularly well.

And there are many, many things you can do, by the way, with this. But there are three things from a self care point of view to enable you to be your best self that really work well. If it’s chaos, the best antidote to chaos is order or the creation of the illusion of order. At the very start of this thing, I was travelling internationally, and I came back home and I took the precaution of going into lockdown myself, just as a precaution with the family.

So I spent the first two weeks of this thing by myself. The first thing I needed to do, and I thought to do, was to create some form of routine so that I knew when I got up in the morning what I was doing every day, in what measure and to what degree. This kind of routine creates the illusion of order, and it calms us.

When I talk about routine, I talk about a few things. Exercise is more critical than ever, diets are more critical than ever, ever sleep is more critical than ever. And you need a balance because now that you’re working from home or at home, you need a balance between time with your kids, how you ration that out time with yourself and your work. Time with your wife, partner, husband, and time together as a family, and then time for yourself and your own nourishments.

So rationing things out and having a balanced approach to your routine is also a critical ingredient. And the final thing around routine, which is the simplest thing in the world but actually has the most major impact if you do it, is because things are so unprecedented, make a list, take whatever is in here and get it out and put it onto a sheet of paper somewhere and then create a schedule.

Have a schedule of time for a week and a schedule of time for a day and what you’re doing and know what it is. And have a list of things that you need to do. And what the list does is what you need more than anything is you need to preserve your own mental energy. And one of the things that depletes your own mental energy the most is when you’re trying to keep everything in your head.

There’s an effect which is called the Zeigarnik Effect. Which means that you get consumed by the things that you haven’t done, and you don’t even need to do them. But just by taking things out of your head and putting them somewhere on a list, takes away the mental energy.

The reason that you wake up at 3 in the morning or, 4 in the morning, or 2 in the morning is because there’s stuff going on in your head. Take it out of your head and put it on a list. It’s the simplest thing you can do, and it actually is one of the things that’s one of the highest values.

The second thing which is vital, as you’re emptying other people’s cups, who’s emptying yours. This is about people. In peacetime, we would call this your own personal board of directors. In wartime, we call it the war cabinet. Who is your war cabinet? Who are your consiliares? And I mean, in all dimensions, who’s your phone a friend, who are the people that you trust, who are the people who give you sage advice? in every aspect, spiritually, physically, emotionally, financially, all of these things are under the microscope.

If you had to create your circle, your war cabinet, who’s in it, identify them, stay connected with them. These are the people that are going to help you survive and help you empty your cup when you need it. And there are people you already trust, and they’re already acting out of kindness. And speaking of kindness, that brings me to the third point.

This is not a time to be hard on yourself. The third point around self-care is to be kind to yourself. We all have this inner critic that operates on our inside. This is the time to lay off the inner critic. Give it the moratorium for the next three months or beyond. One of the strands of work that’s prevailing for us and continuing and actually thriving is the one to one coaching executive coaching, which we’ve always done.

And the interesting thing, statistically, 70 per cent of the executives and the CEOs that we work with suffer from imposter syndrome, and this is often, you know, unusual people think that successful people are confident, et cetera. But actually, most of us are in a situation where we just feel that we’re going to be found out.

We don’t believe that we’re worthy. We can’t believe where the success has come from because we’re just us. This applies to 70%. This is a very natural thing. And what I’d say to yourself is this is the era of good enough. We’re in a chaos room where good enough is good enough. It’s a very bad time for you perfectionists out there. Chaos room is not a great place for perfectionism.

And the other thing about it is as you think about yourself and your reputation as being a leader, you don’t need to be Churchill. You just need to be yourself but with more skill. Hopefully, some of the skills we’ve talked about are inherent in this broadcast here.

So, I hope you found that useful. We have had many requests to do a webinar around Leadership in Chaos, and we’re also creating a Leadership in Chaos online course based on the content that we have here. If you’re interested and would like to find out more, you can contact me directly at [email protected]

In the meantime, stay safe, sane, and connected until next time.

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