5 Ways to Lead Through Chaos and Uncertainty

5 Ways to Lead Through Chaos and Uncertainty

Tell me… do you ever feel like you’re a spectator in your own life? Or like things are just happening around you while you can only watch, wait and scramble to keep up?

What if I told you this was because you aren’t tuning into your WHOLE self?

Let me backtrack for a moment. Let’s start with the brain. Most of us think of our brain as that wrinkly grey mass in our heads that does all our thinking. But the brain is just one part of your overall nervous system. And that whole system is complex, knowledgeable and full of information for you!

Your nervous system reaches every corner of your body and behaves in ways we’re only just starting to understand. In fact, it was just 10 years ago that scientists discovered cells in the gut that could send messages to your brain in 100 milliseconds!

Here’s what we know: our entire bodies are collecting information about the world around us every second of every day.

So… why do we put so much energy into ignoring it?

So many of us focus on what we can think through, logically, inside that grey matter, and push away the wealth of information our bodies are trying to give us. For a lot of people, we’ve been conditioned throughout our lives to hone in on our logic, pushing everything else aside.

We ignore gut feelings, shake off that prickly feeling on the back of our necks, use deprecating language for our intuition such as “nagging doubt”, “cold feet” or “nervous tummy”.

When I say we aren’t tuning into our whole selves, what I mean is that we aren’t taking advantage of all the information being registered throughout our bodies – our full nervous systems – making it difficult to clearly see our own big picture.

This is why you feel like a spectator.

When you watch a movie, you only see what the camera shows you. When you only view the world through your logical brain, you’re missing the bigger picture your whole brain is trying to show you.

That’s why you feel disconnected. It’s why you keep making the same choices over and over again. It’s why you can’t seem to get out of your rut. It’s why times of chaos and uncertainty can throw you so out of whack.

Learning to lead through chaos and uncertainty (especially during a chaotically uncertain time like now) is a powerful way of not only thriving through the chaos, but also to start tapping into your whole self- your full experience of the world around you.

Here are 5 Ways to Lead Through Chaos and Uncertainty:

1 – Start from you.

Mastering leadership starts with mastering leadership of yourself.

Tune into your inner experience and face it – fully. What you refuse to face ends up running your life, instead of you being firmly in that CEO seat.

When you tap into the wholeness of your inner experience, you’re able to see more clearly where you are in the moment and the next best steps forward. You’re able to make decisions that move you in the direction you want to go, be intentional in your impact, and approach chaos and uncertainty from a responsive – not reactive – mindset.

The more you work on yourself, the more you can then support others. Tune into what scares you, angers you, is coming up for you.

2 – Mindset.

Fred Kofman, leadership development advisor for Google and founder of the Conscious Business Center International, has a great approach to mindset. Instead of saying, “Oh shit”, he suggests, “Oh fertilizer!”

It’s a victim vs. player mentality. Instead of saying, “Oh shit, why is this happening to me?” Try, “Oh fertilizer! How can this make me grow?”

In times of chaos, “Oh shit” mentality is common and even understandable. The problem is that it gets you stuck in a mindset of things just happening to you and you can’t do anything about it. By continually asking yourself – in chaotic times and peaceful ones – how you can grow from what’s happening, you keep yourself in a mindset of forward, positive movement.

3 – Create from whatever is happening.

Singing opera on balconies, playing tennis through windows, doing Zumba on rooftops… if the current pandemic has taught us anything it’s that humanity is bursting with creativity.

One awesome leader, noticing her team seemed unmotivated and lethargic on their weekly Zoom status call, made a simple, but powerful change. They now hold a weekly “walking meeting” with no video, just voice. Although the 5 team members are dispersed between 3 countries, they all take a walk together on their headsets to share how they’re doing and any setbacks they’ve encountered. The result has been higher energy, a greater sense of connection and stronger engagement within the team!

Keep asking, “What else is possible?” Even tiny steps outside the box can create meaningful results.

4 – Embrace aggressive transparency.

People remember how you respond or do not respond. Show that you put people first, even when the path is difficult, not just when it’s easy.

Acknowledge updates immediately. Get on a group call and bring it out in the open. Don’t let anything fester.

If you don’t know the answer to something, or you’re feeling anxious, or you’ve noticed a problem within the team, but don’t have a ready solution… bring it out anyway! As humans, we are so perceptive. Even if we can’t clearly identify “he’s scared of something” or “she’s holding back”, we notice changes in mood, energy, tone of voice and so on.

When you can name something, you take away its power. Be fully transparent.

5 – Tune into your body.

We often think about the brain sending information to the body. But it’s actually more of a two-way street with our bodies sending about 11 million pieces of information per second to our brains for processing. What’s more, certain parts of our bodies have larger clusters of neurons sending even more information. The heart, for example, has about 40,000 neurons and sends more information to the brain than the brain sends to the heart! In the video linked above, the HeartMath Institute explains that our emotional experiences are reflected in our heart rhythms, which send information to the emotional center of the brain, and can come out as feelings of joy, anger, fear, and so on. And that’s just one example of how what’s happening in your body can (and does!) impact how you show up.

Whether it’s your heart, your gut, or some other part of your body, your body is speaking to you, and a critical part of self-leadership is tapping into its messages. The problem is, while your body may be sending millions of bits of information, the human brain is only capable of consciously processing a few dozen of those bits. So, when it comes to noticing your body’s messages and understanding how to use them in partnership with your logical brain, tuning in with intention is critical.

The wisdom in your body is your bridge to life around you, and living in your head cuts you off from that wisdom. When you tune into your body, you’re able to feel your next best move; to show up with authenticity, leading from the best parts of yourself, and face your own anxieties with vulnerability and courage; and to fully appreciate and accept the humanity in yourself and those around you, giving you a huge advantage in understanding – intuitively – how best to help put others at ease, recognize and encourage their strengths, and inspire them towards a path of continuous personal and professional growth.

How do you tune into your body? A regular meditation practice strengthens your mind-body connection, which primes you to tune into your body as you go about your day. You can also set reminders for yourself to count to 5. Just 5 seconds of deep, intentional breathing can turn your mind inward, empowering a meaningful moment of connection.

tune into your bodyThere’s no question this is an uncertain time. The way we show up now will have an impact way beyond this crisis.

Interested in further leadership coaching? A leadership coach helps you tap into your whole body to understand and integrate the messages coming in. They act as a sounding board, help you see your blind spots, where you might be stuck hold you accountable for taking real steps forward, and teach you powerful leadership tools to help you create from everything around you. Even chaos. Connect with me to discuss the possibilities.