As I write this, we’ve had about a week to take 2022 for a test drive. My verdict thus far is mixed, and it depends very much on where I fix my gaze. If I think about what I hoped week one would involve (i.e. nine of us in Barcelona and Valencia), it hasn’t been great as we weren’t there. If I let my Twitter feed shape my impressions, it’s starting as one of my worst years ever. And I’ve thrown my back out for the first time in almost a decade. But here’s the thing: I wrecked my back building an awesome snowman with my granddaughter on one of the most magical winter days I can remember. January marks the start of a fresh new season, and even though it’s a challenging one this year, I still have choices about my attitude toward it. For this first entry of 2022, my “wiser decision faster” is to prevent and resist the funk I could easily fall into next week, rather than needing to drag myself out of it later!

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Collected Under Pressure

“Well, at least we have enough toilet paper!”

A classic line from a client this week as we considered how to muster the energy to cope with another hard chapter in pandemic life.

We were actually talking about “Emotional Range” within her Adaptability Quotient assessment at the time. Emotional Range is defined as the extent to which people experience emotions because of situations in their environment. At one end of that range are people who are “reactive” – they have stronger stress responses in the face of the unexpected and are easily overwhelmed by uncertainty.  Folks at the “collected” end of the range tend to be calm under pressure and in control of their reactions. They can also be [perceived to be] less sensitive when others are struggling.

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Subjective Abundance

I have long been an advocate for an abundance mindset, rather than operating out of a sense of scarcity. This reflects a way of being in the world, not primarily access to material resources (although I suspect having the latter makes the former much easier).

So it still surprises me when scarcity-based thinking creeps into my own ways of working and/or drives the behaviour of my collaborators. It’s sneaky and it’s everywhere. And so refreshing when replaced by its opposite.

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The Limits of Adaptability

If you’ve been following along in this space, you’ll know I’m a fan of adaptability. We need it, we can learn it, and it can energize us.

But I’m learning its limits.

Having been playing with the metaphor of elasticity recently to capture dimensions of adaptable leadership, it occurs to me that (unlike elastics!) humans have the ability to warn others, if not to predict, when they are about to snap. And “snapping” does not only look like breaking down or falling apart. It might look more like simply being unable to fulfill your intended purpose as well as you otherwise could have, or even not at all.

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Stretching from a fixed point

Elastics stretch from a fixed point.

I don’t understand much about physics, but I know from experience that if all parts of an elastic are in motion simultaneously, stretching isn’t happening. And elastics are made to stretch.

This metaphor might resonate for you when you consider the past 20 months – at times all the parts have been moving at once, so you haven’t been able to respond well.

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