Nothing is in a straight line. The unexpected happens like a summer storm on the plains.
Everything wants our attention. Devices alert with illusory important messages or stories to read.
Self-centeredness overpowers. Individuals present themselves as being more important than any greater cause or principle as well as any organizational, market, or societal purpose.
Leaders have a choice: Create chaos or center calmly. Both can create change, but only the latter lowers anxiety and generates pragmatic change.
We have enough chaos in the world.
- Odd, divisive presidential tweets slam early in the morning.
- Opioid and drug abuse rises. “Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50.”
- Anxiety is up. “Over the past eight years, Google search rates for anxiety have more than doubled.”
- Suicide rates are at a 30-year high, and no age group is immune.
- Leadership credibility falls. “CEO credibility dropped 12 points globally to an all-time low of 37 percent, plummeting in every country studied, while government leaders (29 percent) remain least credible.”
We don’t need leaders creating chaos. We need leaders willing to solve the underlying issues to tame chaos.
Some say chaos is what creates real change. A kernel of truth snaps. The reality – Intentionally creating chaos sidesteps real issues. The cloud of dust and disarray becomes more important than solving the crux of the problem.
Have you ever sat in real silence? The impact is deafening. No air conditioning whirring. No digital dings. Just sitting with your thoughts. Within the silence, calmness sprouts. It isn’t always perfect; nothing really is. However, we find our center for the hour, the day, or the week. We find a better path in which to step onto and encourage others to join in.
A month ago, I purchased a new phone. As I was setting it up, I turned off all notifications. No more bells about retweets, emails, or news stories. An interesting thing happened. I was back in control of my device. I chose when to read stories, emails, and tweets. I chose the time and the place. What a big difference a small change makes. Anxiousness disappears, and calm action returns.
Calmness begins with our actions.
Good Leaders Radiate Calmness
Good leaders know what to turn off and what to listen to. Good leaders know how to find the center in the chaos and focus on what matters most to get the most positive change. Good leaders know to how to go below the surface, read deeply, listen intently, and work diligently.
Leaders, oh leaders, we don’t need more chaos. We need more problem solvers.Tweet
Good leaders engage their thoughts but silently release the ones that don’t matter.
Good leaders control what they can and deal with the unexpected elements that come their way.
Good leaders know the status quo will swallow an individual, team, and company into oblivion. Good policymakers know continued discontentment will produce negative outcomes. Preventing a continued state of chaos is paramount for good leaders and policymakers.
A Return to Calmness
Calmness is not:
- Productive action
- Strength of character
- Triggering momentum in a positive direction
Today, our society appears to have a small tear and, like a rip in an old pair of jeans, it will get bigger. Without the proper care, the statistics will get worse. Everyone deserves better.
Leaders, oh leaders, we don’t need more chaos. We need more problem solvers.
It is time for calm leadership, not the slogan kind. The action kind.
All Photos Copyright 2017 Jon Mertz. New Mexico.
Join the Conversation
Return to Calmness: A Leadership Imperative
Great points, Mike! Thank you.
Great point, Alli, on both fronts. Keeping calm as a parent sets the best example, and it is the hardest to do at times. Silence is powerful, and we need to embrace it more often to re-center ourselves. Thank you! Jon
Calmness comes from preparation and prioritization. It also comes from confidence in what needs to take place.
I’ve been struck recently how this applies to parents too. When we lose control, scream and yell, we’re not helping things go right… we’re making what’s going wrong worse.
Also, my favorite part of working from my home is the absolute silence. I live in a very quiet place I relish the calm. You’re right, it does help us get centered when we allow ourselves to get over the idea that productivity has to be constant motion and instead sink into our center.