By Michael Kurland, who launched Branded Group in 2014, transforming the facility management industry with his vision to #BeBetter.
The pandemic inflicted an untold amount of stress on everyone. Whether your role was in the mailroom, the boardroom, the classroom or the emergency room, it was inescapable. Some people were able to ride out the storm without a scar. Others are still reeling from it.
Perhaps, if you’re like me, you are trying to recalibrate your life and adjust to a new way of working and living. These months of uncertainty and ever-changing circumstances have taken a toll on us, physically, emotionally and mentally. It’s likely that we have picked up some poor habits that need to be replaced.
Let Them Go
For me, I was overindulging in food, drink and television. My previous commitment to a healthy lifestyle was tossed aside as I dealt with the challenges of leading my company through this major crisis. Also, working from home, while in the past was enjoyable, began to feel isolating, especially for some of my team members who live alone.
Many people’s actions during this time may have been to “numb the pain.” Instead of persevering in our healthy habits, we grabbed the bag of chips, we poured another cocktail, we purchased unneeded items or we memorized the channel guide so as to not miss an episode of our favorite shows.
However, as we come out of this once-in-a-lifetime event, it is time to re-assess. It is time to recommit to our once-healthy habits or, for the first time, establish new ones.
Make A Change
Change is not easy. Bad habits are tough to break. Yet if we are to emerge from this trial “better, faster and stronger,” an honest assessment of our lifestyle is needed. You can’t change what you can’t name, so it’s time to look in the mirror and ask a few important questions:
1. What positive changes or experiences do I want to continue? For example: spend more time with family due to daily commute time being freed up.
2. What health or wellness practices do I need to re-invigorate?
3. What new rituals or routines do I want to jump-start again?
Your responses will determine your course of action. As a CEO, it is my responsibility to steer the ship. It is critical that I walk the walk. I can’t authentically promote our wellness program and lead an unhealthy life. I can’t tell others to rest and recharge if my hair is always on fire.
One of my favorite books, Atomic Habits by James Clear, has some outstanding tips on how to build new habits and break old ones. For example, to create a new habit, make it obvious by writing it down. To break a bad habit, do the opposite. That is, get any exposure to it out of your environment.
Be The True North
As leaders, we set the tone for our organizations. We are the embodiment of our culture, and our team members look to us as examples. In my company, “Be Better” is our philosophy. If my staff sees me contradicting this, what incentive do they have to adhere to it? If I’m continually going against what I profess to be our vision, my integrity as a leader and my team’s trust in me will falter.
You are your team’s guide through tumultuous times. Your behavior, decisions and actions are on display. To motivate change in your team, you must be the change you want them to be. Here are some tips to help you get started:
1. Assess your daily habits.
Whether it’s keeping a journal or tracking your actions in an app, seeing is believing. When we can identify the problem, we can come up with a solution. It may be difficult to admit our bad habits, but if we want to change, this is an important first step.
2. Start with a small change.
Simply replacing one cup of coffee or goblet of wine with a glass of water is enough to jump-start your post-pandemic lifestyle. Small changes over time reap big results. Practice makes perfect, as they say. While we’re not seeking perfection, we should be seeking perseverance.
3. Remember the whole you.
We are more than what we eat. Our thoughts and emotions play a big part in our overall health. If we’ve learned anything, it’s that our mental health is critical to our ability to cope with stress. Meditating, doing yoga or adopting a new breathing technique are just a few ways to reduce the noise.
4. You’re not alone.
Human beings are not supposed to be lone wolves. We are social beings. If you or your team has been isolating, develop a plan to re-socialize. Seek out networking groups or social clubs within your comfort zone. Pick up the phone instead of texting. Reignite those human connections.
5. Take a walk… in someone else’s shoes.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned from these past months is a deeper understanding of other people, their circumstances and their reactions to the various hiccups in their lives. I’ve seen friends and my team struggle to balance pandemic rules and regulations, homeschooling their children and their jobs. It’s a lot even under the best of circumstances.
Your team may be putting on a brave face out of fear of judgment. What I’ve noticed is just because someone appears to be fine on the outside is no indicator of their true state of mind. Go the extra mile and don’t take “I’m fine” as the final answer.
Like many, I’m slowly getting back to my pre-pandemic healthy lifestyle. Daily workouts have returned. My yoga and meditation practices have been resurrected. There’s more water and less Netflix.
By taking better care of me, I can take better care of my team, who will in turn take better care of themselves. I want my team to be successful — not just between the hours of 9 and 5, but the entire day and for the rest of their lives. By walking the walk, I show them that it’s possible.