I don’t have to tell you that we’re experiencing an enormous amount of complexity and fluidity. Almost every aspect of life as we know it has changed overnight. We’ve had to adapt how we work, socialize, and engage with our families to accommodate a shifting reality that is largely beyond our control.
There’s no denying the unique nature of the present situation. It’s the perfect storm of stressors that can trigger some measure of anxiety, from mild fear to an overwhelming desire to hoard toilet paper. And yet, if we’re open to the invitation, we can use the current state of affairs to evaluate our personal response, readiness, and resilience when faced with uncertainty and ambiguity.
I created the ACP Presence Model TM as a framework for cultivating authenticity, confidence, and, purpose (ACP) to enhance presence within the context of leadership communication. But in times of uncertainty, your leadership and presence are needed in almost every area of your life. By getting back to the basics of who you are, what you can control, and the future you’d like to create, the ACP model can guide you toward a more resourceful and resilient mindset that brings out your best.
Authenticity is the degree to which you know yourself and show yourself to others. Changing habits and plans can make you feel like you don’t have firm ground to stand on. Practicing self-awareness and mindfulness can anchor your attention on something you can know with certainty – yourself. Spend time reflecting on the following questions:
- What are your values? Your values are principles that guide your decision-making and behavior. They clarify what you will and won’t do, how you’ll treat others, and how you’d like to be treated as well. In challenging times, you might be tempted to act out of fear and disregard your values, which could bring short-term gains but sabotage you in the long run. Reminding yourself of your core principles can help you prioritize what (and who) is important in your life and keep your actions consistent with the person you want to be.
- What are your strengths? Your strengths are both innate and developed talents that create value for you and others – and this may not have anything to do with your vocation. This forced slowdown could be an opportunity to reacquaint yourself with skills you may not have had the time to exercise. For example, a friend of mine is a television writer, but is also a fantastic cook. She now has the time to post short cooking classes on Instagram, which is great for her and a gift to everyone who watches.
- What are your weaknesses? We all have vulnerabilities. Rather than being disadvantages, personal weaknesses can create opportunities for people to work together. Being honest about what you aren’t good at is an expression of vulnerability, which is an endearing quality that builds trust and rapport. Sharing your weaknesses also leaves room for other people to step in and support you.
Confidence is the belief in your ability to accomplish a specific goal. When you set a goal, you create expectations about what you think will happen, and your confidence measures the degree to which you believe you can meet those expectations.
Most people feel more confident in familiar situations and when they’re doing what they’re good at – because they know what to expect. For many of us, our comfort zone marks the boundary of our confidence zone. We believe in ourselves as long as we’re within the realm of the familiar; but as soon as we step outside of our comfort zone – as we are all challenged to do in times of uncertainty – our confidence can start to plummet.
Boost your confidence and increase your resilience by considering the following strategies:
- Remember your success stories. When your confidence is low, it can be easy to forget past successes that got you to where you are now. You’ve had goals, you faced challenges, you faced your fears, you persevered, and you succeeded, over and over and over again. Taking stock of your professional and personal triumphs can calm your anxiety by reminding you of how resilient you are.
- Adjust your locus of control. In addition to your belief in your ability, your confidence also reflects your locus of control (LOC), which is the degree to which you connect your actions to outcomes. The more internal your LOC, the more you’re driven by the powerful assumption that what you do is important in determining what happens to you. You can increase your effectiveness during challenging times by refocusing from what you can’t control to what you can, like your mindset, how well you adhere to your values and fulfill your responsibilities, and how you treat people – especially in times of crisis.
Purpose provides you with a sense of direction and meaning. During unpredictable times when you’re more at risk of amygdala activation, a strong purpose can marshal your psychological and emotional resources away from a fear-based response and toward making a positive contribution.
Purpose can be multi-layered. Some people have an overarching purpose of life, a sense of a larger mission or duty that guides their actions. But you can also find purpose within the moment that energizes and moves you forward, even in the midst of uncertainty.
To create purpose and momentum in the moment:
- Pursue intrinsic rewards. Most of us are used to being motivated by external rewards such as praise, promotions, money, grades, and fame. However, intrinsic rewards that originate within you can be more energizing and fulfilling. Think about when you immersed yourself in mastering a certain skill, the pride and satisfaction you felt from a job well done, the personal validation from being of service, or the warmth of connection to those you care about. These kinds of purposeful activities help you live out your values, practice an internal locus of control, and create a rewarding sense of meaning.