Are We There Yet?
"Are we there yet?" is my six-year-old's signature statement as soon as he gets in the car. Whether a family road trip or a quick stop to the grocery store, he is quick to ask. Quick to forget. And then quick to ask again.
I don't know about you, but during 2020, I've found myself asking "Are we there yet?" just as much as my six-year-old.
While we're all wired differently, during times of change or uncertainty, our brains are consistently trying to answer three questions:
How long will it take?
How will we get there?
What does success look like?
If you think about the pandemic we're living in, the social issues we continue to struggle with as a society, or other hardships you've faced this year - I wonder how these three questions resonate with you and your team. Not to mention the other initiatives, projects, times of change, and of course road trips, you've been working on this year.
As I've learned from my six-year-old, the way to help ourselves and others navigate these uncertainties isn't by vague answers like "We get there when we get there!" or by pushing past rest stops when it is clear a break is needed.
Rather, to help during these times, help your brain and the brains of others by:
Remember the purpose. When my six-year-old gets restless in the car, I remind him how much fun he'll have with his grandparents when we get there. Successful endurance athletes talk about how they focus more on the purpose of why they're running (for a charity or their family) rather than the end goal of crossing the finish line. Reminding your team the "why" during times of change creates a shared and higher level of meaning. Which can help internally motivate others to continue when times get tough.
Break up the process. This pandemic has been a heavy reminder that there is so much outside of our control. When you focus on the the journey rather than the outcome, you're able to focus more on what you can control - your process. How you prepare. How you respond to obstacles. Break up your process by establishing small milestones. This might mean you meet as a team every month or quarter to evaluate progress and discuss priorities for the next time period.
Celebrate when you hit a milestone. I know I've felt that there hasn't been much to celebrate this year. However, celebrating through gratitude, recognition, or appreciation creates the opportunity to create small acts and behaviors that can remind yourself and others that you are in fact making progress. You don't need confetti to celebrate - especially when you can't be together in-person or in large groups. Send a thank you letter to a team member. Allow people to sign-off early on a Friday. At the very least, honk the horn when you've crossed the state line.
Resiliency isn't created through the act of putting your head down and just "pushing through". Resiliency exists when you use behaviors and thoughts to positively protect yourself during uncertain and difficult times.
This month, what behaviors can you start to help your team know that they are making progress?