Honestly, I’ve been struggling with writing this month’s newsletter.
Oh, it’s not that I couldn’t find lots to write about – it’s a sunny spring day in Chicago that smells of new possibilities, the fascinating research about how our brains triage our emotions while we sleep, favoring our more positive ones for recall while damping down our most negative ones (Science Daily, How sleep helps to process emotions) and also that we had a few much needed days away with the Memorial Day weekend.
But all of that, pleasant as it may be, isn’t really what’s on my mind.
What’s been on my mind is that we’ve collectively lost reference points for our lives, what might’ve constituted some sort of ‘normal.’
A massive slaughter of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas just last week, with black residents of Buffalo having been targeted the week before are heartbreaking! People under 30 can’t even remember a time when there weren’t frequent mass shootings – too often at schools, community centers, and places of worship. Places that we consider should be a refuge from the rest of the chaotic world.
Now, with heaps of loss on top of loss, we’ve tightened up, our collective breath more shallow, our vision of what’s possible more narrow.
Writing teacher and author, Natalie Goldberg, encourages writers to “Be willing to be split open,” to write about what disturbs, and what provokes because it’s there that one can plumb the depths of their own experience, and dare speak of those places of darkness, loss, outrage, helplessness.
Who wants to go there?! Really, more of that?!
Yes, more of that – it’s where the juice of being alive lives.
Some part of me can get easily sucked in to a tendency to blame someone, somewhere, for all the chaos and tragedy and loss. It seems to be how we’re wired. Yet, when I succumb to blaming, all it does is just zap my energy and leave me feeling more helpless and bad.
Perhaps the biggest struggle I’ve noticed in myself recently is listlessness. I find myself vacillating between my desire to be a good citizen who’s engaged with current events, and being really tired of it all.
And it’s not just me, I know.
Our prolonged, collective exhaustion has deepened into a shared state of burnout—that slippery slope of being so spent of energy that we become disillusioned, even cynical about life. We’d love to find a bit of certainty in the chaos–even though it’s long been clear that certainty isn’t possible.
When it comes down to it, our sense of how we knew ourselves BC (before COVID) has shifted, and now we’re fussing to regain our footing today, to re-establish our sense of ourselves.
Instead of blaming or wishing it were all different than it is, we can transform the impact of the losses by noting that even in the midst of tragedy and helplessness, we do indeed have a deep capacity for hope, even fearlessness.
I feel more hopeful when I remember, with a smidge of awe, that everything is ordinary and extraordinary. It’s my mind that determines – by choosing to be either open or closed – how I see what’s in front of me.
These past two years have given us all a run, and we can find what lies at the outer reaches of our ability to be hopeful by being willing to practice a pause, choosing to note, to actually sense, how extraordinary each moment is.
What is hope if not some unexpected ease awaiting around the corner, like the smell of warm bread that wafted my way on my morning walk past the neighborhood bakery?
Or, back from my walk, as I reach the door when I notice a shaft of light spotlighting the bright purple irises in my garden.
Of course, it’s sometimes even something not so great, like waking up and realizing I’d forgotten to drop a check off or mail the birthday card. Yet that, too – such an ordinary event – reminds me of my humanness, my limits, and strangely grounds me too.
So yes, you feel beat down. Me too. The push we need for ourselves is simply to note that we’re more than our fatigue, our exhaustion.
Not long ago a client told me about some of our earlier, years-ago, work together, ‘What you did for me then, back when I was on the edge, was hold the hope for me when I couldn’t do it myself.’
How could I possibly have done that for her, I wondered?
Then I realized, it was because I could see her in her precious beauty, her ordinary struggles, her extraordinary pull towards life even in her own deep experience of loss and disorientation.
So yes, I’m tired, but I’m way more than just that and so are you.
- Isn’t the hope we’re looking for about paying attention to the ‘more’ a skosh more often?
- Can we open ourselves to celebrating the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of our lives?
- What if we committed to intentionally seeking one moment of ordinary joy each day and recalled it each night before drifting off to sleep?
So yes, you’re a tired, successful, stressed-out human, AND you also love the after-dinner walks with your partner around the neighborhood too.
So yes, you’re an exhausted, over-extended leader, AND you love sitting in your backyard with a glass of ________ as you wind down the day.
So yes, you’re weary, AND there’s always another perspective, a more inclusive view of who you are amidst the loss of the world.
I challenge and support leaders to sharpen their focus, grow their resilience & improve their energy for exemplary results. In addition to private coaching sessions, Calm the Chaos for Busy Professionals, Are You Willing to Go First: Conversational Keys to Leadership Success, and From Stress Bombs to Resilience are three of my popular course offers.
My new book, The Leadership Pause: Sharpen Your Attention, Deepen Your Presence and Navigate the Future is available for Pre-order on Amazon: Here is the link on Amazon:The Leadership Pause: Sharpen Your Attention, Deepen Your Presence, and Navigate the Future
If you’d like to make your difference, I’ll be launching my book in the next six weeks, consider joining my launch team too!
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For more information, contact me by email: DrChris@Q4-Consulting.com, or visit my website Q4 Consulting (q4-consulting.com)