The Positive Energy Workplace

CONTAGIOUSNESS Today (& Ways to Help Things Go "Better" for Ourselves & Others)

This information was shared in our bi-weekly contagious leadership conversation broadcast (which is subscription-based). Given what we’re all going through right now, we wanted to provide this information on a bigger scale. Stay well. Stay present. Wash your hands. Breathe.

We talk about contagiousness a lot. In my world and in this work, this word is most often used when referring to energetic, emotional, attitudinal, and cultural contagiousness. In today's world, as we all know, we are deep in the conversation of physical contagiousness and COVID-19. It's a daunting time, it's scary. And the range of responses -- from terrified, freaked out, and buckling down, to hash-tagging coronavirus smears and flying all around the world enjoying empty planes and upgrades, to somewhere in the middle -- makes it even more daunting, confusing, overwhelming, and anxiety producing*. 
I always say that wherever you are in your process and reaction is "perfect." You're there for a reason. AND... you want to make sure that it's really where YOU are, that you're "there" by your authentic relationship with what's happening (versus being "there" by "catching" other peoples' "locations"), and also that you take care of yourself while being response-able for your impact and how you show up with others while you're there.
It's a lot, I know. (I reworked that paragraph many times to get to it.) And, worth it, because... 
This is kind of key. Especially right now.
In my work with leadership and culture, when we talk about creating a contagious culture, we often forget that WE are each the culture. How I show up for me, how I show up for you, the energy I put out there, the energy I take on -- this all creates culture.
Culture starts with each one of us individually.
This means we're each personally and individually the best chance we've got at creating a healthier culture and helping things go right/well/better.
When our intention is clear about how we want to show up, how we want to serve, the experience we want to make, and the culture we want to create -- and when we do our best to each show up in a way that helps create that intention and in a way that is (positively and usefully and helpfully) contagious -- we create a more powerfully contagious ME (or as per my book, contagious YOU), and then we can create a more positively usefully and helpfully contagious culture. 
So what does that mean for us right now in the midst of this virus which is highly contagious and growing and creating so much change in our culture right now that it's impossible to keep up with? And what does this mean when we have such a range of reactions and also so much judgment and fear around peoples' reactions or lack of reactions? 
It means we take a breath...
// It means we step back. 
// It means we reclaim our energetic space (not just physical space) and see what's HERE now.
// It means we get extra present.
// It means we check in with ourselves. 
// It means we allow ourselves our authentic emotions and reactions (whatever they may be).
// It means we tend to ourselves and our emotions and our tender underbellies.
// It means we be intentional about our impact on others and how we lead.
// It means we be conscious of, and responsible for, the energy we put into the world.
// It means we be discerning about the information we take on and what we spread.
// It means we be responsible for our health and also caring about the health of others so as not to put people at risk. 
// It means we be respectful of this virus and other people (wherever they're at on the reaction spectrum).
// It means we do all we can to wash our hands and keep our distance and honor guidelines and all the other best practices that are being put out there by the CDC and John Hopkins and health officials and medical practitioners who are doing their best to navigate this as well. 
To this last point... have you noticed? There's so much information out there right now along with competing and inconsistent stories and facts, and so many perspectives (that, btw, are authentic for the people with them -- AND, they conflict). I've personally found it sometimes difficult to know what's true and not. And really easy to get sucked into the rabbit hole of emotion and information. This dynamic in itself creates anxiety and can result in losing our space and our authority over our own energetic and emotional presence and contagiousness. (Ironically, this is no different than when we speak about organizational health and leadership and culture -- the contagions and information and anxiety all work in the same way, but for this, let's stay on our health.)
The solution? I feel that's personal and unique to everyone to figure out for themselves as they navigate their experience, and my offering is the list above and to be discerning about what you read, take on, and believe -- and to be thoughtful about the information (and emotion and energy) you pass on. I think this can help a lot. I'm personally working on this and finding that it is a practice. I am constantly noticing my energy, my emotions, where I get pulled in either direction or reaction, and then REBOOT to what is actually true for me right now. Breath helps. Breathing right now and owning your space so you can know what's what for you is, in my mind, the first step. (And yes, wash your hands and all the other things.)
Helping things go better. Using this time... 
I can't leave this conversation without sharing this thought... We have to keep our minds clear, our intentions conscious, and also our hearts and spirits looking for what we can do that's positive in this time. (To not do this is not only unproductive, it's depressing and paralyzing.) So there are some things to consider. Here are places to look whether you are working from home, quarantined, still working in the office, or your life and schedule (and/or mobility) is being impacted in anyway:
  • What will you do with this time?
  • How will you redesign your life and your way of working and connecting right now?
  • How may this be a gift in your busy busy busy life where you couldn't even get a moment to do extra things you cared about?
  • How will this all affect your priorities?
  • What are the opportunities here?
  • How can you use this time to get stronger as a leader, as a human, as a team?
  • How can you use this time to connect even more meaningfully in different ways? 
  • How can you use this time to maybe grab that nap you've been wanting for six months? 
Find the gifts here. Explore. The upside of all of this and working from home (and, for some, being quarantined even) or simply having our lives/schedules/mobility affected is that we have some space and time now (i.e. no commute or possibly lighter work in this moment) to tend to things we've been wanting to do -- or even needing to -- but haven't had the time for: read a book(s), write a book, dig into your personal development, clean that closet, work your IEP practice, make that process better, co-design new agreements as a team, get to know each other more, meditate, create morning rituals and routines that you can make into a habit even after you're back into a more normal schedule, and set yourself up to be BETTER and STRONGER and an even more EFFECTIVE, INTENTIONAL, and SERVICE-focused leader (and team) when you return. Use the time. Use the space. Use this. And use it for good. 
Okay dear friends, here's to you! Stay present. Stay educated. Stay in your space. Know how YOU feel and where you stand. Stay clear on your intentions. Take care of yourself. Make this moment count. Contribute to things going better. Be human. And love. Love always helps. And remember, we're all in this together. 
Loving you and all of us,
Anese Cavanaugh's signature
PS: Not sure how to support your team right now? Seeing your colleagues and teammates and employees and loved ones grappling with some of this as well? If this was useful to you, please forward this to them. They can opt in for future resources here as well if they wish. 
PPS: *Case in point... I just spoke with someone this morning who is in a state highly impacted right now, has family out of country, and is certain this is "the end." My next call was with someone who is barely aware it's happening as they're in a state without effect or cases. Some schools are shutting down with minimal cases in the state, some have more cases and still aren't shutting down. I noticed that even the gap in these ranges of realities/reactions can create a moment of energetic churn for me. So what to do? Reboot. Breathe. Come back to me. Now back to you... 
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