During this time of heightened fear, worry, and concern with the COVID-19, we are being forced to change and adapt with little to no control over the circumstances. Responding to the moment-by-moment changes finds many of us working and living remotely, and wondering about how these changes might have long term effects. As of late, my coaching sessions either have a taste of this subject matter, or we spend the entire time navigating the immediate reality and choices my clients have to make. Not only is there worry for physical safety, but there is also worry economically. Many businesses are closing their physical doors, asking employees to work remotely. Schools are sending children home, forcing working parents who still go to an office to make a choice between work and home life. Events are being cancelled, leaving artists, professionals, and the like to lose an once reliable income stream. This is the unwanted change that I speak and teach so much about. So what do we need right now? Empathy and each other.
I have been talking for years now about how important relationships and strategic partnerships are to our personal and professional well-being. Even if the nature of a particular relationship changed, a promotion placed you above a former co-worker, for example, the way in which that change was handled was more important than the ultimate outcome. Were you able to stay true to your values? Communicate authentically and clearly? Have compassion for yourself, the situation, and the other person involved?
While we cannot control how another person may respond to what we do or say, it is important to consider how our actions and words might influence them. Conscious Leaders understand that this perspective and attitude offers an invitation to make the relationship more important than the outcome itself. Inviting another individual to respond to what is being offered in that moment, allows us to deeply listen to what may be happening with them. Listening deeply, means that we turn our entire focus and attention towards the other person and stay open to whatever they might share. Many times, listening to another with genuine interest is enough to soften the energy surrounding the situation, and open up a new field of possibilities to explore that may not have been there before.
When there are stressful times like now, times of uncertainty, and fear of the unknown, what we need most is deep listening, empathy, and to double down on our interpersonal relationships. I like to say that, “Alone we may be pretty good, but together we are amazing.” When we can put ourselves in other people's shoes, we just might be able to get a glimpse of their strengths and weaknesses, and formulate a plan that could produce a greater outcome than what we first imagined. The invitation in the next few days and weeks is to see if we can make our first interaction with each other one of curiosity, empathy, and being of service to the bigger picture. Realizing that we are part of something bigger than just our own agenda, and that each personal agenda contributes in some way to the collective goal can provide the team approach necessary for ongoing success.
I leave you with the poem by Mary T. Lathrap, which the quote, “Walk a mile in his moccasins” was birthed. May we judge ourselves, each other, and these changing times, softly.
“Pray, don’t find fault with the man that limps,
Or stumbles along the road.
Unless you have worn the moccasins he wears,
Or stumbled beneath the same load.
There may be tears in his soles that hurt
Though hidden away from view.
The burden he bears placed on your back
May cause you to stumble and fall, too.
Don’t sneer at the man who is down today
Unless you have felt the same blow
That caused his fall or felt the shame
That only the fallen know.
You may be strong, but still the blows
That were his, unknown to you in the same way,
May cause you to stagger and fall, too.
Don’t be too harsh with the man that sins.
Or pelt him with words, or stone, or disdain.
Unless you are sure you have no sins of your own,
And it’s only wisdom and love that your heart contains.
For you know if the tempter’s voice
Should whisper as soft to you,
As it did to him when he went astray,
It might cause you to falter, too.
Just walk a mile in his moccasins
Before you abuse, criticize and accuse.
If just for one hour, you could find a way
To see through his eyes, instead of your own muse.
I believe you’d be surprised to see
That you’ve been blind and narrow-minded, even unkind.
There are people on reservations and in the ghettos
Who have so little hope, and too much worry on their minds.
Brother, there but for the grace of God go you and I.
Just for a moment, slip into his mind and traditions
And see the world through his spirit and eyes
Before you cast a stone or falsely judge his conditions.
Remember to walk a mile in his moccasins
And remember the lessons of humanity taught to you by your elders.
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave
In other people’s lives, our kindnesses and generosity.
Take the time to walk a mile in his moccasins.”
~ by Mary T. Lathrap, 1895