By Crystal Wilson
Here’s the thing. It’s a thing you already know, but I am going to tell you anyway.
We’re all living in a period of time where no one knows what to do. No one knows the right answer, no one can tell you how long it will be like this, and no one knows what “after” will look like.
This can, as a leader of any type, be terrifying and paralyzing. If the place you lead happens to be in the business world, you may have had your world entirely rocked on every level over the past few weeks. I get it and I see you.
And yet here we are. Some rocked, some rolling through, some grieving, some fearful, some confident, almost all of us not so sure about this whole deal.
And we all have a choice to make. We are at a crossroads; one we will continue to visit each day and have the same opportunity to make a choice. As far as I see it, everything hinges on whether we choose to move forward in joy or in despair. These two options hold a myriad of other emotions and approaches beneath them, but for the sake of ease, let’s focus on these two as the stars of the show.
I understand that this time is a time where it can feel awkward to express joy. If you have suffered loss during this time, joy may feel out of your reach. I acknowledge these things and I challenge that with the idea that you can hold both joy and despair at the same time - it’s a balance, but it’s not a new balance, it just feels new within this unknown context. There has always been joy and despair wandering around together, challenging us to respect them both. And we CAN do it.
Personally, I feel joy at the fact that my family and I are at home together all the time now, and I feel despair at my loss of productivity. I feel joy that our staff have not experienced a disruption in their employment, and despair at the fact that my husband and so many others are temporarily laid off. I feel joy that I have time to be creative and make new things, and despair that the things I am making are to help business leaders who are not sure their business will survive this.
But in that dichotomy I believe we can and we must intentionally choose to follow the joy. If we don’t intentionally choose it, we will be influenced by those who benefit from our despair and we will sit in that darkness, feeling the world’s anxiety and fear in a way that it feels like our own. It is, plain and simple, easier for most of us to feel negative emotions. It is somehow less work. But now is not the time to settle for the easier option in this regard.
If you need to take time away from your business, find joy in the rest you can take or the relationships you can rekindle, and the planning you can get done. If your business is still running but it is harder than normal, find joy in those who are supporting you and in the fact that there is still a business there causing you to work hard. If you had the wherewithal to sell something like facemasks, toilet paper, or hand sanitizer, find joy in the fact that you are on fire right now!
Joy is not necessarily going to jump out at you, shouting here I am! But it never was. You have to be looking for it, and making the intentional choice to search it out. I have challenged our team to decide what they are going to do to experience joy each day. This means that I am asking them to create opportunities for themselves to experience joy, in case it does not organically appear on any given day, and I am extending the same challenge to you. In this period of time, where so much is outside of your control, the choice to focus on joy is entirely within it. How will you act on that today?