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Leading Through the Holiday Madness!

I know, it probably seems bizarre that I would write a leadership article about the holidays. Let me assure you, it’s not. Leadership isn’t a quality or trait that gets put aside during the holiday season. Leadership is something that is required – and is present – through every part of the year, through every part of our lives.

Those of us who hold leadership roles in our professional lives may choose to take more of a follower or ally role in personal contexts – and yet, it’s important to remember that our leadership isn’t a function of role or title. Instead, as I’ve said a kazillion times before (more or less), leadership is about how we choose to be. With this in mind, I want to share a thought with you about navigating and leading through the holiday frenzy that surrounds us as we head into the New Year.

Often, I hear folks talk about the “craziness” of the holidays. I see people “battling” with themselves and others as they strive to get things done before year-end, personally and professionally. How to get all those gifts bought, the baking done, the correspondence sent, the parties planned? There’s even a mad, stressful scramble as colleagues attempt to use up their vacation days before December 31st (seriously, this can be a source of incredible anxiety – how the heck do I use up my allotted time off???).

I want to assure you that there is a way out of the mad frenzy, the craziness, the anxiety-ridden burden of it all, no matter what the particulars are. There’s a specific skill that you can use to find your way forward without losing your marbles (or anything else). And as leaders, it’s up to us to sharpen our personal saws in using this skill: it’s time for each of us to SOURCE EASE.

I know; some of you think I’m being all woo-woo and new-agey here. I’m not. Sourcing ease is an age-old skill, one that can be applied to all circumstances of challenge and angst. Effective leaders know how to use this skill to better the world around them.

Before I dive deeper into this, let me be clear about something: EASE does not mean being without challenge. This isn’t about avoiding roadblocks, or lolling about in idleness. EASE is not the same as easy.  Instead, EASE is about flow – and flow happens even in the face of challenge. It’s imperative that you understand this distinction.

Let’s carry on. What, exactly, is it to “source ease”?

Sourcing ease is what we do when we DECIDE ahead of time that the potential challenge ahead of us isn’t going to derail us. Sourcing ease is about choosing a perspective that allows us to see possibility where we might otherwise see brick walls. Sourcing ease is about consciously releasing the tension that we might be holding, so that we can make way for flexibility and flow.

When we source ease, it feels like magic happens. I think this is why some people grapple with the concept, feeling like there’s no place for such foolishness in the world of leadership – “magical”, inexplicable processes don’t sit well with our rational minds. It’s time to get over that.

As leaders, when we can model the practice of sourcing ease, we create environments around us that are conducive to greater creativity, productivity, and forward movement. And that’s what effective leadership is about, isn’t it?

I know, you’re wondering how it works in practical terms. Here are a couple of examples:

1.       You have a meeting to get to and have a 30 minute drive ahead of you. If you leave RIGHT NOW, you will be cutting it close, especially with the potential traffic snarls and the whole fiasco of trying to find parking. In this moment, you could get all worked up and stressed about how you’re going to make it work, OR, you could source ease; you could take a deep breath, leave now, and simply settle into the fact that you will get there when you get there and all will be well. Time and time again, using this approach, I have experienced traffic flowing around me, and parking spaces just being available, when conventional thinking would have me believe that traffic should have been at a standstill and parking at a premium.

2.       You’re travelling to a convention in across the country and you’re not a big fan of flying (or any of the processes that accompany flying). You could tell yourself that flying is a nightmare, and you never have good luck, and customs is a drag, etc; etc;. If you do, rest assured, this is what you’ll experience. Or, you could take a deep breath, and source ease; you could remind yourself that millions of people fly all the time without issue. You could imagine moving through security and customs speedily. You could smile, release the tension from your body, and literally go with the flow. As a pretty avid traveler, trust me when I tell you this works for me every. Single. Time. Even in those moments when weather is horrible, or planes are delayed – there’s a way that it doesn’t feel burdensome and opportunity arises during the experience. The challenge is there; the burden is not.

Bottom-line: the upcoming weeks need not be a time of stress or mayhem. Yes, they may be busy; they may be full; you may be inundated with “people to see, places to go, things to do”. That’s okay. Source ease and you’ll experience the flow, and you’ll be able to enter the New Year from a more grounded space. Sourcing ease; as bizarre as it may sound, it’s actually a pivotal skill to be being able to lead with grace.

Tracy Harvie