Building a strong foundation for “reset”

We did it Roadrunners! We made it to the finish line! Covid-19 has challenged and tested us personally and collectively on even the simplest of daily tasks in our lives. No longer will we take for granted jumping into our car for a forgotten item when cooking. No longer will we meet up at our favorite restaurant without first thinking about social distancing rules and sanitation protocols in that restaurant. In the foreseeable future we will learn through online classes.

In a time where we crave connection and touch, we’re being asked to stay six feet apart and respect each other’s wellbeing. Most of all, whether we want to or not, we’re all being asked to find our way before we push the “reset” button and navigate an unknown future.

One of the biggest gifts we can give ourselves right now in this pause between movements is to find clarity on what personal leadership means to us. It’s easy to sit in isolation, blanket wrapped around our bodies for added protection against the hostile world, and smugly criticize others who are brave enough to lead.

What leadership theory tells us is to look inside first, before we harshly judge others for what we see as their trespasses. But how do we do that? Where do we start?

Stephen Covey, the author of one of the best-selling leadership books of all time, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” says it starts with values. Once we have clarity on what matters most to us, then seeing ourselves, seeing others, and knowing right actions becomes simple. He calls this “private victory.” Simply stated, our leadership and our values is an inside out job. Let me offer you an example if I may.

In the moments of fear and doubt, I kept hearing, “Remember who you are and what you stand for.” Courage. Kindness. Goodness. Honesty. Excellence. Trust. It was “courage” and “trust” that pulled me through this semester. There were several times I wanted to call it day and say its just too hard. I can’t do this anymore. It made accepting each day as it came bearable. It made the mental and physical exhaustion doable. And it made my many mistakes on so many levels forgivable.

There’s also another truism about personal leadership and values we sometimes forget. We rarely think about them and what matters most to us in the good times. It’s when we hit the hard times, when every fiber of our being is tested, that our values become our compass and guide our actions and decisions. Covey calls our values our “True North.” If we use them consistently to help us navigate our challenges, we acquire what Covey calls, “public victory.” We know what we stand for and by our actions, others also know what we stand for.

How will we personally and collectively change as a result of our experiences during Covid-19? Will we become entitled? Will we think of “me first” from here on in? Will we become kinder, more understanding and seek simplicity? Only our leadership, our values or perhaps our lack of them will influence how we approach reset and our experiences going forward.

Good luck Roadrunners with all your future endeavors. And remember, when times get tough, the tough get going…work those values and be proud of what you stand for in life.