There are many things I am learning to embrace during this time of uncertainty, not surprisingly and I’m sure this may resonate with many of you – the head full of grey hair that emerged over lockdown.
Now normally those greys wouldn’t have had a chance as I pursued my fierce regime of non-negotiable hair appointments, comfortable being in complete control – how things changed!
During the unpredicatable time of Covid house arrest, I had to accept a grey reality. The surprising thing was that over time I became more comfortable with the grey, more comfortable in my own skin, with my own sense of identity. This is the gift lockdown has given me – the gift to question where else in my life it would serve me to embrace the grey.
For many of us we tie our sense of identity and self-worth directly to our professional roles that we often feel make us who we are. But what if we looked more closely and valued what is really important. The skills and attributes we offer that make us good at what we do and which result in success. Our desire for challenge, to problem solve, to set strategy, collaborate, to do good and to contribute as part of a team. Thinking beyond the black and white of either/or thinking is an extremely empowering proposition.
Embracing the grey is a mindset – an openness to new ideas, ways of thinking and doing things, as we learn to feel more at ease with ambiguity, uncertainty and options – consciously opening ourselves up to an approach that works for us.
We are currently confronted with a sea of black and white – to vaccinate or not to vaccinate, to mandate or not, to lockdown or not. However within these black and white mindsets are countless views, positions, rationale and options – in fact, a sea of grey – our challenges not clear cut or our solutions obvious.
Let’s not let our fear of the unknown lock us into the limitations of the known, the black and white of old and familiar thinking and approaches, of group think, that make us feel powerful and secure in the face of overwhelming change and challenge. Embracing the grey, in looking for new ways of thinking and doing things, allows us to be malleable and to address change with less anxiety giving us the opportunity to learn and look for growth.
Yes, change can be disorientating, we feel something is new and accordingly often don’t know how to deal with it. However while the specifics may be new, cognitive science tells us the human ability to navigate change is not.
So how do you embrace the grey and build your resilience to change?
- Acknowledge the uncertainty over which you have no control
- Know you have successfully dealt with change before, and will again
- Pay attention to your reaction to change – this is in your control
- Reframe your thinking – question long held beliefs and opinions
- Consciously seek out diverse opinions
- Talk openly and without judgement
- Remember – having a different opinion does not make someone right or wrong
- Use the grey to drive your curiosity to learn and expand
- See change as an opportunity
- Work out ‘your plan’ to deal with change.
We may ourselves be in unprecedented times as part of this global pandemic but history shows us we have been here before. We have the capability and capacity to look for solutions, the solutions and power lying in our own individual actions.
Let us embrace and celebrate the grey!