This post is part one of a two-part series. 

The covid-19 pandemic has stretched farther and deeper than any of us had anticipated. It has created many challenges and left us mired in a sea of negative media and misinformation. Amid the chaos, a few steady, positive voices have held close to messages of hope and opportunity. One of those voices that I have turned to often during this crisis is John Maxwell.

In a recent podcast, he posited that this crisis is an opportunity to stretch and grow both as a leader and as an organization. He shared how many of us are asking, “when is this going to be over” and “when will we go back to normal?” These are not the right questions to be asking yourself during the pandemic, especially as a leader. Instead, he challenged listeners to ask, “what am I doing to grow myself and to grow my business during this time?” That one question helped me redirect myself on a personal level and helped set the tone for how I am serving my company and my clients during this time. By using it as an opportunity to grow and strengthen yourself as a leader and to grow and strengthen your business, you not only survive, you come out the other side better than before.

How to Use the Pandemic to Strengthen Yourself as a Leader

We all know that strength is forged in fire. But to truly yield the best from that newfound strength, it must be forged with intentionality and from a solid foundation.

Values Assessment

Many of us today know what we value. The challenge lies in ensuring every thought and action reflects those values. It’s too easy to get caught up in the everyday grind and lose sight of what matters most. Challenging times like this are an opportunity to take stock of where you are spending your time and how you are showing up each day. Are your bringing your best self to the table each and every time? How are you living your values? In what ways are you undermining your values? Eliminate those attitudes and activities that are in conflict with what you value and what you want for yourself and build a framework for incorporating more of the right behaviors and activities into your life.

Personal Development

Challenging times give us an opportunity to rise to the occasion, but they can also bring to light many areas where we are still weak. Instead of submitting to or becoming overwhelmed by those weaknesses, use this time to identify those areas in need of development and create a plan to address them. Identify books to read, online courses to take, mentors and coaches to seek out, and any other tools you can use to grow and learn from this situation. This is an opportunity to become a better version of yourself, and flourish, in spite of the situation surrounding all of us.

Manage Your Intake

A common phrase we take as true is “you are what you eat.” The same is true for what you read, listen to, and consume in terms of communication and information. What you choose to read, watch, and hear becomes what you think and believe. In times like this, where many of the streams of information are heavily laced with negativity and biased communications, its critical to manage your time online, watching TV, and consuming other forms of media. Choose to consume media that is positive, educational, and focused on developing solutions and opportunities. This will ensure that your thoughts, which inform your actions, are coming from a growth-oriented foundation.

Manage Your Energy

Too often, we confuse strength and growth with constantly being in motion at full speed. This is not only false, it is dangerous, especially as the rate of change has accelerated and the number of external stressors impacting us have grown tremendously. In order to bring your best self to the table, you need to also plan time to rest and rejuvenate as well as managing your energy throughout the day so you can continue to deliver on each activity.

In order to effectively lead through challenging times, its important to step back and take stock of the situation and how you are engaging with others and events. Ensuring you are living your values, identifying areas for growth, managing your consumption, and managing your energy allow you to bring your best self to every challenge as it arises. This lets you be the leader you need to be to help your organization survive and thrive through this crisis and those yet to come.

In the next post, I’ll focus on what you can do to use the pandemic as a time to strengthen your business.