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Redefining Success During VUCA Times

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If you’d like to learn how to become more resilient so you can mentally and emotionally cope with tough situations, sign up for the free 90-Day Master Class hosted by the founder of Addicted2Success.com, Joel Brown.


If ever we were living through VUCA times, it’s now. VUCA stands for Volatile, Uncertain, Chaotic, and Ambiguous. The financial markets are volatile and the economic crisis we’re facing is unprecedented. It seems like every day we get conflicting news about the pandemic. First we’d get symptoms in five days, then fourteen, and lastly we were told five again. It can be transmitted if you’re asymptomatic, then it can’t. Countries re-open, then have to shut down again as cases spike. Masks help, or they don’t, depending on who you listen to. It’s frustrating to know what information to trust, when everyone has an opinion about something that nobody really knows enough about.

For leaders who have been in “Go mode” since the crisis hit, there’s additional pressure. Simon Sinek spoke about it recently at the WorkHuman Livestream event. He said that grief is waiting for us. That’s something that hasn’t been spoken enough about. People think about grief as the feelings we have when someone near us dies. But it’s much more than that.

We are (or soon will be) collectively grieving the death of old ways of working and doing business. Some are grieving the death of loved ones from COVID-19. We’re grieving the loss of physical contact, even if it’s simply a handshake. Some are grieving the loss of privacy and personal space as they work from home. Many are grieving the loss of productivity as they try to shelter in place, work, homeschool kids, and maintain their mental and physical health. And still others are grieving the loss of work altogether.

In a nutshell, our limbic systems have been hijacked. The limbic system is the part of the brain responsible for the fight/flight response to trauma. We have one of four reactions to danger: fight, flight, freeze, or fawn. These are trauma responses that have profound impact on the body when they’re activated over extended periods of time. They decrease our resiliency and our ability to access higher brain functions: not exactly ideal for long term success.

 “Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient.” – Steve Maraboli

In times like these, it’s necessary to redefine how we view success. Leaders whose companies are thriving have reported something rather surprising. What has brought teams together, built resilience, and helped them pull together to accomplish great things? Getting real with each other. Dropping the mask of perfectionism. It’s been less about being efficient, and more about being effective. They’re figuring out how to be more effective given varying experiences of working from home. 

We keep hearing anecdotal stories from clients and colleagues of leaders getting on Zoom calls with their teams. They share a story about how they’re really doing. “My mother broke her hip and I had to drop everything to help her. That’s why I’ve been mostly unavailable, and I’m sorry. She’s home now recovering from surgery.” Then they ask how everyone’s really doing.

In one instance, the call lasted over two hours. The leader couldn’t believe how bonded he felt to the team, and the team to each other, after that. There are stories of people cutting out of a Zoom meeting to set up their kid’s next homeschooling module. Entire teams have “met” each others’ pets and kids over the past two months. 

Success during these unprecedented times is not just about getting results. It’s about honoring our shared humanity. 

Here are some suggestions we have for redefining success during these challenging times:

1. Build resiliency

Between the chaos of ever-changing information and the difficulty we all have managing uncertainty, we need to build personal resilience. One of the best ways to build resilience is to uncover your purpose. People who know their higher purpose and live each day from the values aligned with their purpose are naturally more resilient. 

“Things turn out the best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” – John Wooden

2. Spend time developing your emotional intelligence

According to research, 90% of the difference between high performers and peers with similar skills, can be attributed to their emotional intelligence. Develop self-awareness by meditating, journaling, and being self reflective. Get curious about your emotions. Uncover exactly what emotion(s) you’re feeling and why. 

3. Move your body every day

Trauma and the accompanying grief can get stuck in our cells. When you move your body, especially if you work up a sweat, you help move the grief and trauma out of your body. Staying physically fit also helps with mental fitness. Studies show that successful leaders are committed to a regular fitness routine.

4. Practice mindfulness

You can try a seated meditation, simply paying attention to your breath and letting go of thoughts as they arise. You can try a moving meditation like yoga, tai chi, or qi gong. Or you could simply hold your attention on whatever it is you’re doing in each moment: cooking dinner, playing with your kids, or taking a shower. 

There are plenty of apps you can use to help you start a meditation practice. As long as you don’t expect to have a perfectly empty mind, you’ll be fine. A Buddhist saying goes like this: “You should meditate every day for twenty minutes, unless you’re very busy. Then you should meditate for an hour.”

We’re not getting back to “normal” any time soon. That’s a good thing. “Normal” was neither healthy nor sustainable. It’s time to bring humanity back into business, for the good of all.

How have you been coping during the COVID-19 pandemic? Share some ways you’ve been staying mentally and physically healthy with us below!

Johanna Lyman is the Founder and CEO of NextGen Orgs. She is a Leadership Consultant and Executive Coach with over fifteen years of experience in implementing organization­ wide change strategies for both Fortune 500 companies and Small Businesses. At NextGen Orgs, they use a combination of unique delivery methods and processes that crack the code on establishing lasting organizational behavior changes in a relatively short period of time. Johanna is a professional speaker, available to speak on a variety of topics related to culture, communication, innovation, and leadership. She is the Board President for the Bay Area Chapter of Conscious Capitalism and is deeply versed in how to help businesses be a force for good in the world.

Success Advice

7 Ways to Face Adversity Using the Power of Extreme Ownership

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Adversity is an inevitable part of our lives, and it is an important and defining factor of our personal story. The stories we build for ourselves in the face of adversity will either empower or discourage us emotionally, help us move forward or remain stuck in the past, allow us to grow or to decline. (more…)

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Why Your Confidence Needs to Match Your Competence

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Even if you produce amazing results at your job or in other areas of your life, others may still not see you as being competent if you lack the confidence to back it up. If you are good at your job, exuding confidence will ensure others also recognize your competence in your area of expertise. And research backs this up. (more…)

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5 Things You Can Learn From The 5am Club by Robin Sharma

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It has been said by Robin Sharma, “5 AM is the time of least distraction, highest human glory, and greatest peace.” This also happens to be the central idea or the core value he has discussed in his book, ‘The 5 Am Club.’ Speaking of early mornings, at what time do you wake up? Are you annoyed by the fact that you wake up on the edge of time and then rush to work in haste? 

The life lessons put forth by The 5 AM Club are exactly the learning and motivation you need to challenge your complacency. In your race against time, you may not have the time to read this fabulous book. So, we have summed up the key book’s takeaways for your convenience.

1. The vigor of waking up early

This is what the book’s most fundamental advice to everyone is. Waking up at 5 am every day can work wonders to avert failures and make success a natural habit. When we wake up at 5 am, we have more time on our hands than others. Besides, this is when we have minimum interruptions and maximum powerfulness of the mind. 

To add, the early morning peace is priceless! You can schedule your most important tasks of the day between 5am, and 8am. This book teaches us in the simplest way, how we can train our mind and strengthen it to deliver the highest productivity by waking up early. This energy that you have when you wake up in the morning and the few additional hours in your day are what serve as perfect ingredients for success.

“The secret to productivity is simplicity.” – Robin Sharma

2. The power of finding the right balance in life

The book talks about a precious lesson of finding the right balance within. We often talk about the need for mindfulness and achieving the right mindset to perceive things. But this book goes a few steps ahead of our usual approach to life. It highlights the vitality of mindset and introduces the concepts of heartset, healthset, and soulset.

These terms may seem new, but they are self-explanatory. The idea of heartset endorses the essentialness of emotional stability and well-being. Next, the perspective of healthset indicates the need to look after physical health. At last, soulset is an attribute of spirituality. As explained in this book, success prospects can be enhanced big time by achieving the right balance between these internal virtues.

3. The iconic 20/20/20 modus operandi

What is the first thing you will do if you start waking up at 5 am every day? Did you ever spare a thought about it? This book has the answer to this question, and you will be convinced that it is a great way to begin your day!. The author suggests that you should split the first hour of the day into three equal parts of 20 minutes each.

In the first 20 minutes of the day, you should prioritize your physical fitness and exercise. In the next 20 minutes, you should energize your soul and spirit via self-reflection and soulful meditation. This will prepare you for the rest of the day and will enable you to bolster your commitment and focus. In the last 20 minutes of the first hour, you should read and learn. But what are you going to read about in those 20 minutes? Read about successful people and their inspiring journeys to the pinnacle of success.

4. The significance of a proper sleep schedule

In this book, there is a mention of ‘a ferocious global sleep recession’, which is intriguing and enlightening. It hints at the state of sleep deprivation that this world is sinking into gradually. We often associate success and hard work with the notion of staying up all night and testing our endurance beyond limits. But that is not the right approach to accomplishing success, or rather, it is a flawed methodology.

Sometimes even if we do not have any critical work, we keep whiling our night time on social media or television. What are we gaining from it is the real question, and I am afraid the answer is nothing! We learn from this book that it is critical to look after your sleep cycle and start your day at 5 am afresh. Sleep and rest are indispensable for mental and physical well-being, or your productivity will decline.

“If you want to have the results only 5% have, you must be willing to do and think like only 5% do and think.” – Robin Sharma

5. The art of evolving

The book sheds light on the need to be spiritual and master self-reflection. However, do you realize the purpose that the routine of reflection each morning serves? The idea is to keep learning, keep reflecting on the mistakes and keep evolution an ongoing process. You should evolve every day and strive to be a better version of yourself every day. So, one of your primary goals after waking up should be to reflect on your actions and missed opportunities of the previous day.

To recapitulate, The 5 AM Club is a must-read book if you are a passionate reader. It has the prowess and charm to refurbish your perception of life altogether. Even if you cannot read the book for some reason, make sure you incorporate the above key takeaways into your life. By starting your day at 5 am, you can rediscover your lost soul and enthusiasm, and you would not have complaints to make about the lack of time. If you can own your mornings, you can go places on the ladder of success, for excuses are only for those who are not committed to their goals.

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Prepare Yourself for Prosperity With These 6 Success Habits

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Success stories don’t come from naturally successful people. They come from ordinary people with starry eyes and big dreams who stayed true to their end goal and consistently put in the work. They are just like you and me. What sets them apart is their mindset — a success mindset. (more…)

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