As many of us return from a well-earned festive season rest, the fatigue of 2020 may still linger. If this is the case for you, you are not alone.
During this unusual new year, we need to continue to rest and be mindful, so that we can manage the ongoing impact of COVID-19 and emerge stronger.
We offer ‘3Rs’ to help you welcome in 2021.
I like to spend this time of year with my family and friends, to reflect upon the year that was, and take the time to read books and articles, which I otherwise would not have the time to read. I can honestly say that 2020 was one of the most emotionally exhausting years I can remember. I’m sure this is the case for many of us, and I just wanted to highlight that it’s okay to feel exhausted. It is okay! We all do. A continued focus on rest will help provide us with the energy to embrace the year ahead, and to respond to its challenges and opportunities effectively.
2020 was characterised by the comings and goings of COVID-19. Lockdowns, border closures, working from home, Teams meetings, have all reshaped our lives and, for many of us, this has resulted in ‘pandemic fatigue’. What we thought we could leave behind in 2020 has certainly remained somewhat prevalent in 2021, and it is this that, I feel, has created a sense of ‘helplessness’ in many. Where many felt a new year would be met with energy, particularly in relation to applying available stimulus support, instead we could easily become apathetic, if the new year is not commenced in the right manner.
During my rest and reflections phase I stumbled across an article in Harvard Business Review on leading a team when pandemic fatigue sets in. It resonated with me quite deeply as it talks about resilience on multiple levels. I have shared this article already with several of my friends and colleagues. The article explores what we need to do to get through this ‘second wave’ is psychological stamina. Essentially, we must exhibit defiance against the randomness, gloom and burden of the pandemic. It requires a focus on how we can, as individuals and as businesses, emerge from this crisis stronger.
Summoning up the stamina to lead those around you during this time is an essential ingredient of this rejuvenation (and another reason why rest is so important). It’s a rejuvenation of us as individuals, as leaders, as companies, as a society, and as an economy. And, quite frankly, that’s a lot to bite off. No wonder there is a lot of jaded people out there, fatigued by the year that was, with many unsure how to tackle the new year. It was at this point in the article that I was reminded of the Stockdale paradox about crisis leadership. It tells us that ‘you must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be’. So, to break this down into its two main parts:
- Firstly, what I feel that Admiral Stockdale means is that, for us, as leaders, we must maintain the faith and belief that we will prevail in the end. We must retain our faith and positivity. There is a clear light at the end of the tunnel, and we are moving towards it.
- Secondly, and just as importantly, we must focus on the ‘brutal facts’ of our current reality. I interpret this to mean we must ensure we are getting our work done. It’s necessary, and keeps us going as individuals, as a business, and as a broader economy. I found the article really resonated with me on a number of personal levels, particularly around focussing on what is important for our business to thrive in the long term and how I manage my own mind. And I feel that managing my own mind is the key ingredient here.
So, my advice to those of you out there that are confronting a ‘fog’ at this time of year is to:
- focus on your own resilience and mindset,
- decide to take charge of the things you can control, and
- focus on the long-term goal.
This will help us lead our people.
We will return to something like normal soon enough and, when we do, we want to be in the best position possible to emerge in a better shape than when we started this. So, the importance of these ‘3Rs’ – rest, reflection and rejuvenation – must be approached with a very positive mindset to ensure we have an extremely successful 2021. And I certainly wish that for all of us.
At Bentleys, we understand the feelings of concern and anxiety you may be experiencing at this time. We encourage you to speak with a trusted friend or family member, or seek expert assistance for yourself or a team member, if required. Specialist organisations such as Lifeline (telephone 13 11 14 in Australia, or 0800 543 354 in New Zealand) are also available to assist.
We will continue to update our COVID-19 resource hub with important developments, so please return soon.
Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and should not be relied on as advice. It does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. You need to consider your financial situation and needs and seek professional advice before making any decisions based on this information.