You’ve probably had the experience of going to sleep in some new place and then having that moment when you first wake up in the dark trying to answer the question “Where am I?”. Usually within a few seconds we have an ah-ha moment and reorient ourselves. We realize: Im in that place, or that hotel room, or whatever location that isnt home and isnt normal.

Many of us have found the last two months highly disorienting. We’ve lost freedoms; we’ve lost routines. Some of us have lost jobs and positions and income. We’ve lost a sense of control and planning for the future. Perhaps you’ve even had my experience: a family member of mine died a couple weeks ago. No funeral. No family time. These things are hard—very hard—I want to talk about that. 

How do you lead yourself well under these disorienting conditions?

As I share some thoughts, I need to be transparent. I need hear the very things I’m going to share here. I’ve had moments, many of them in the last two months, that I have not lived what I teach in chapter 11 of Lead 24/7 (Leading Yourself). So I’m inviting you to listen in on what I need to hear myself.

I have a mantra. Mantras come out of Hinduism and Buddhism. They are a word or sound that gets repeated to oneself in meditation. Mine came from a waitress on March 13, 2020. At that point, there was a lot of anxiety in the system, in the country, and in our world. We didn’t know that 48 hours later that very experience of dining out would come to an end with an executive order from our governor. We were out with friends, and after we paid the bill I was the last to leave the table. As our waitress came back to the table to begin clearing, her parting words to me were “thanks for not being afraid.” It has become my mantra. Wherever this whole season is going, I want to look back and have it said to me: “thanks for not being afraid.”

I have found that living out my beliefs and values is more important than ever. Life has drastically changed for me, but not the first two hours of each day. I value spiritual health and I value physical health. I have routines and traditions that go with those things. I have moments of feeling very disoriented. But they don’t come in those first two hours of the day. Unless, of course, I betray myself—which I have done a number of times! However, these practices have brought consistency and orientation in these very disorienting times.

I have discovered more of my beliefs. And I haven’t liked everything I have discovered! Adversity has a way of bringing things to the surface. Adversity reveals things about what I truly believe and value. You know what I like? I like control. I want to know the future, plan for it, work the plan, and, as a result, live successfully in freedom from fear and anxiety—and it has been painfully revealed to me that some of my beliefs are unhelpful and false. Which means I’m actually growing when it comes to a healthier and clearer idea of my root system in my own DoKnowBe Tree.

I’m checking my gauges. I talk about this when I teach Leading Yourself. Gauges are those indicators on our dashboard that can protect us from moving from A to C to the Red X on that Margin vs Impact graph. 

Let me highlight just one of my gauges: healthy ingesting. Food is an issue—at least for me. Under stress, the quantity of what I eat goes up, the quality of what I eat goes down, and the pace at which I eat it goes into overdrive. And it isn’t just food. Drugs and alcohol are suddenly more attractive.Escape becomes my primary non-work pursuit. 

And then there is the news. I ingest that too. I’ve discovered that leading myself well is requiring me to become less obsessive about the constant media barrage. I need to be informed, but at some point the news is simply giving me more things to be upset about that I cannot do anything about. I’m limiting my intake.

Last summer I was at the end of a workout and was stretching on the floor. Another person came in and turned on the television as he got on the treadmill. There happened to be a big news story that day. This is what happened for the next thirty minutes: he watched this major news event being covered by MSNBC for 5 minutes, then switched to FOX News for 5 minutes, then switched back to MSNBC, then to FOX, then MSNBC, then FOX again. It was actually humorous. And what hit me was this: these networks were covering the identical major news event…and you would never have guessed it due to the heavy editorializing and opinions espoused on each channel.

Healthy ingesting has become an even more important gauge for me in this season.

I have a prayer. Alcoholics Anonymous popularized the Serenity Prayer. It goes like this:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

But guess what? This prayer existed long before AA. It was in the 1944 edition of A Book of Prayers and Services for the Armed Forces. This was during World War II. I find that fascinating.

And guess what else? It even existed before that. A man by the name of Reinhold Niebuhr first shared what came to be known as the Serenity Prayer sometime in the early 1930s. Many people found comfort in his words and expanded on the Serenity Prayer over time. A well known version of the Serenity Prayer (that most of us have still never heard of) is even longer. Here it is in its entirety: 

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next. Amen.

This may not line up with your beliefs and worldview at all, and that’s okay. No matter what you believe, I welcome your own responses to how you are currently orienting yourself in these disorienting times. We have each other. And hearing from each other and avoiding unnecessary isolation may be highly orienting right about now. 

Lead yourself well,

Image by marfis75. Used under CC by 2.0 license.