Apathy or calm?

On my morning run I reflected on a conversation I had with a former senior exec who wanted to help by giving me advice. At that time it surprised me; today I am grateful but not for the reason you may think.

He said when speaking to me, I didn’t sound as though I had a sense of urgency. Particularly, when there was a work crisis or things weren’t going as planned, my demeanour was not reflective of the situation. He felt as though I was disconnected and didn’t care about the company or the problem. 

He was partially right. I do have a tendency to disconnect myself from the choas and erratic behaviours that often accompanies the fallout when something goes wrong; the one hundred meetings that follows with everyone in attendance, the CYA emails et al. I certainly disconnect myself from any action that consumes energy that focuses on the problem, who was at fault or evidence to accompany such. 

My preference is to focus on the solution, course correcting as quickly as possible and engaging with those who are intent on solving the problem and possibilities. I certainly care about the people, and how we come out on the other side.

I understand clearly the physiological impact that stress and panic has on the body; I know it doesn’t help overcome the challenges at hand. I understand deeply the value of breathing and the ability to think more clearly and choose your actions carefully. I also understand that people around you remember how the situation was handled, and how you helped or if created another barrier.

As I ran further, I also thought that he wasn’t the first to point out my calmness. 

When I lived and worked in Costa Rica many years ago, I luckily had a mentor who altered my perspective on many things, through simple conversation and reflection. One of the main lessons was his calmness and level-headedness; not to be mistaken with an introverted personality, but he was genuinely at ease wtih the strict deadlines and all of the moving parts that surrounded him. Unassuming, his decisions created impact, including people. He navigated that world calmly, never the loudest in the room, nor did he shift his energy to match the instability around him. 

He taught me the value of actions on people, particularly when the unplanned happened, the strength of relationships and the importance of being your true self, regardless the task at hand, to get to where the business, and you needed to be. I learnt the value of collaborating to find solutions, and that many ideas were better than one, and was definitely better than the first!

One of the biggest revelations for me as a leader was recognizing that diversity was indeed a strength. People by their very nature are different, with different backgrounds and experiences; people inherently have different ways of doing things, and react differently when placed in stressful situations. 

The real lesson was not only is the difference expected, but it is the thing that you can learn tonnes from if you choose to pay attention; as a leader, it is colossal strength.

I value calmness, stillness and default to an even-keeled approach. I appreciate that people have different ways of getting to the same outcome, which are also different to my way and approach. 

Today I am grateful for my former mentor for showing me that my calmness is a super power, and the human beings around us, matter. I am also grateful for others, and conversations like the one I had more recently, that reminded me about the importance of understanding your difference is a strength, even when others may tell you otherwise.