The New Normal: Leadership in a Post-Pandemic World

#LeadandLift | Episode 104 | Dr. Erin Hurley

When the pandemic hit, humanity went through a world-wide traumatic experience and it affected people in many different ways. Leaders must accept that trauma has caused long-term effects on the mental and physical health of people they lead, which is why they must adapt their style to better serve the organization.

The old way of doing things will not work anymore. People have changed, and so the leadership system must change too. It might take decades and generations to wash out this worldwide trauma effect, therefore, we as leaders must prepare to adapt for the long haul.

What is trauma?

Trauma means that something has happened in our lives, and it can show up in very insidious ways. Erin says that when we have adverse events in our childhood, those adverse effects will show up as a higher percentage of risk for all kinds of mental and physical health diseases.

Despite all that, know that it’s never hopeless. No matter what you went through in life, there is a always a way out and a way forward that will bring healing to your heart. Some of the things we can do to avoid the risk of a negative well being is by building resilience and opening ourselves up to community and coaching. Through that, we can move from Post Traumatic Stress and to Post Traumatic Growth.

Some people experience secondary or indirect trauma. Even when something doesn’t happen to you directly, just by being in proximity to somebody else who might be experiencing a traumatic event can have an adverse effect on your well being. Even just watching the news can negatively affect your mental state.

Adapting Systems For Change

We can’t continue to operate on an outdated, pre-pandemic, operating system that’s no longer applicable today. Leaders today must install a new operating system in order to better serve today’s society. What’s the new OPPSS system that we, as leaders, must all install?

●  Open-minded

●  Pausing

●  Power of Planning

●  Support

●  Self-care

Starting With Open-Mindedness

Open-mindedness is critical for growth. It’s absolutely essential that we start with this before getting to the other parts of the framework because without open-mindedness, the whole thing falls apart before it can even begin.

“We can spend a bunch of time and energy on getting a coach, a therapist, a mentor, getting new training. But if we are close minded, none of that will matter.”- Erin Hurley

Ask yourself, “what can I do to have an open-minded growth mindset?”

If we can’t create one, or have not gotten one, that’s where reaching out to an expert who can challenge us will help.

Erin used her own experience as an example of this. She had an old habit that has been bothering her for 20 plus years and it only took six weeks of working with her first coach to break it. The only regret she had at that time was not starting sooner. She says that perhaps, if she had started sooner, she could’ve created more changes and created them more quickly in her life.

A lot of times, we aren’t even aware of the habits or tendencies that are affecting us negatively. This is another area where coaching can be a really strong advantage. These hidden bad habits deteriorate our health and happiness. We won’t be able to get rid of them if we don’t even know that they exist

“If you want to get new water inside that bottle, you have to open the cap. You got to open your mind if you want to get anything new in it, else it’s just gonna fall on the outside - you’re not gonna catch anything.” - Chabidaye Jaglal Ramnath

Remove that cap from your mind and start being open to suggestions. Be curious, ask questions, don’t show up with judgment. Clear your mind of that untrue belief that you already know it all, and that you’ve already gone through everything that there is to go through.

The Power Of The Pause

Pausing feels unnatural in our fast-paced world because most of us go through life without pausing to think, to feel, to truly see the world around us and inside us. We live our lives reacting to stimuli, but what happens when we pause?

When we pause, we get ourselves used to using our brain’s executive functions. When we train that part of us, we become better thinkers and decision makers. We become less reactive and more decisive and proactive.

Before reacting, what if we instead paused? Before judging what a person did or said, why don’t we first try to understand? There is power in the pause, it’s a power that allows you to take your life back.

Arguments and misunderstandings become more preventable if you practice the discipline of pausing. Let your judgment go, instead, be curious. Ask and clarify instead of jumping to conclusions.

“We have to slow things down. In order to pay attention, especially as a leader.” - Erin Hurley

Planning For Success

If we don’t plan, we will not get the outcomes that we want. We have to be intentional, otherwise we’ll just have to hope we become accidentally successful.

There are many tools that can help us be better organized. Erin uses a calendaring system that she teaches regularly to the people that she coaches. This system has helped a lot of her clients to stay on top of their goals and even track what could be improved on in the coming week.

Discover for yourself what you can do to make your life more organized. Pause and plan. Be strategic with your time. Perhaps by spending a bit of time learning how to automate your tasks, you will be able to create more free time in the future.

“Having a plan helps you see what are the little steps you need to take each day.” - Chabidaye Jaglal Ramnath

No matter how big a goal is, it’s the little steps you take that will get you there. Break down that big goal into bite-sized chunks and make yourself accountable to doing all those little steps consistently. Then, you’ll get the outcome that you want.

The Strength In Asking For Support

Don’t go through life alone. Life is always better with others, both emotionally and practically speaking. Delegating something off our plate to someone who’s capable of doing it is going to make a big difference.

Ask for help before you need it. As someone who had been in the medical world, Erin noted that it isn’t uncommon for patients to ask for help way too late. We have to move away from this mindset. Asking for support is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of courage and wisdom.

When we lighten our load by letting others bear some of it, we become able to accomplish so much more. You may not realize how helpful delegating little tasks could be, but you’ll see the ripple effect once you try it.

“[When] help shows up for you and you turn it down, especially as a leader, it’s keeping us from our greatness if we hold on to those tasks that other people could do for us or help us get done.” - Erin Hurley

Delegation doesn’t just empower you to be your best self, it also empowers those that you take in the journey with you to success. Making people a part of your team makes them a part of the solution and therefore, it also makes them a part of your victory. It’s a win-win-win situation!

The Selflessness Of Self-Care

As leaders, our focus is often on everyone else - this is especially true for women and moms. However, when we pour from an empty cup, we’ll run out of good to give.

“It’s really hard to run on fumes and serve at our highest levels.” - Erin Hurley

Spend intentional time taking care of yourself. It’s not selfish because it will help you serve others better. If you want to do more good and do it consistently and sustainably, then you need to practice the discipline of self-care. Yes, it’s a discipline - an essential.

Plus, self-care doesn’t have to be indulgent. Getting eight hours of sleep, proper nutrition, and a healthy habit of meditation is good self-care.

Many leaders become exhausted and overwhelmed that they end up not having enough energy to do all the many things they have to do.

Lowering The Bar

Do you need to make a drastic change in order to turn your life around and change it for the better? Not really. There is a lighter and more effective way of introducing change in your life and that is by changing your life by 1% consistently.

Little changes, when done consistently compound over time. Like depositing pennies in the bank everyday and letting them grow, one day you’ll get a huge sum of money from a small amount of effort done in a consistent way across a huge span of time.

One little change, one little pause, one little act of self-care consistently won’t overwhelm you. Yet, with time, you will be able to reap those benefits and that will have a ripple effect. 

Erin advises that we should be okay with lowering the bar that you’re setting for ourselves so that we can meet the expectation and use that momentum to carry ourselves forward. If you’re not exercising, go for a five minute walk every lunch. Start there, you don’t need to sign up for a marathon.

This doesn’t mean that we should dream big goals, but it means that we should break it down into doable steps. Lower the bar, get started, and take one step after another in the right direction. That will create momentum that will carry you through to those bigger things that you want to accomplish.

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 Links mentioned in this episode:

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