As we welcome you to the first edition of Lead With Grace for 2022, I’m literally riding a wave of happiness in from the surf beach where I have spent the summer with my family. We all needed a break from the shock served to us by the second year of the pandemic, and I found that probably, like you, I was in need of less quantity time with my family (I couldn’t get away from them in lockdown!), but more quality time. I feel replenished and refreshed, and I sincerely hope you’ve had time to create special moments and reflect on the year that was.
For me personally, 2021 will forever be remembered as the year I lost my mum to a devastating diagnosis of mesothelioma. It’s still hard to fathom that she’s gone. But 2021 also taught me so much. With so much seemingly out of my control – mum’s diagnosis, COVID restrictions including homeschooling of 3 children all while working full time in a fast-growing business – I realised I had to choose what I wanted to focus on in order to have control over my life.
Here’s what I did focus on:
- Gratitude. The science behind gratitude suggests the benefits of a gratitude practice are nearly endless. People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems. Since the pandemic began our team has had a gratitude practice every morning as part of our standup. Not only did it help hold me accountable for my own practice, but listening to other team members give thanks – which often required them to dig deep – was contagious.
I will forever be grateful that while Mum’s diagnosis was terminal, the 2021 lockdowns gave me the opportunity to spend so much quality time with her.
- Exercise. While gyms, pilates studios and pools were all closed, I focused on keeping my steps up, moving my body every day, and using my walks as a means to connect with others whether we were walking together or virtually. With many of the calls to my team, I’d first message and say “Wello in 5?” This was code for ‘put your runners on, and virtually walk around the block with me!’
- Values, conflict and perspective. The impossible scenario parents were put in – homeschooling and working full-time – ignited a feeling I’d long separated from – guilt. For me, guilt usually arises when I am not being true to my values, and so is usually something I can quickly remedy. But what happens when your right (and need) to work is competing with your children’s right to education? A major episode of guilt.
To manage through it, I had to take a step back and apply some perspective. This is a pandemic. Nothing is normal. And so instead of the simple application of values, I reverted to Maslow’s hierarchy of our family’s needs. This meant our 7 year old didn’t get the full curriculum. Rather, we allocated an hour a day at 8 am to get through as much school work as we could, then turned our attention to work, and helped our 9 and 11-year-old when they asked for it. Did they spend much time on tech? Yes. So much that some days I cried. But are they ok? Yes. Did their reading and comprehension improve? Yes. Did they connect with their friends, keep them occupied and give them a creative outlet? Yes. Do I have a love/hate relationship with Roblox? Affirmative!
- Staying connected to my purpose, and having a vision for my career continued to motivate me. Knowing what your purpose requires us to do the internal work. And I’m not just a believer in doing the internal work – I practice it. While Grace Papers has its own vision, I too have a vision for my career, which is like my career navigation system. It keeps me focused on the right work, the family rituals that are most important to me, and enables me to set clear boundaries. Tune in to our LIVE Coaching on 11 Feb if you’d like to hear me talk through my professional vision for 2022.
- Accepting help. It always takes a village, a community, to thrive. For me, my 2021 village included our dearest friends, my family (especially my husband who carried so much of the parenting load), our kids’ teachers, my team, my GP, my neighbour who was my walking partner and so often my life support, and my spiritual director.
As we settle into the new year, we’re committed to ensuring you have the skills and space to do the internal work to set yourself up for success. This is why we are so excited to invite you to join our Joy in the Juggle course. The 2-week program starting 7th February is designed specifically for working parents and carers balancing remote or flexible work and care in uncertain times.
If you find yourself leading a team into 2022, there is no better time than now to explore new pathways of management. We have a whole suite of activities and labs to support you, plus a 4-week personalised course for FlexLeadership starting 10th February.
And don’t forget to register for our first LIVE coaching: Special Event to launch Gender Bias and Discrimination Data Microcert.