Staying Positive in the Midst of Uncertainty

As we continue to navigate the complex effects of this global pandemic, our R|L Coaches wanted to offer you some ways we can help each other stay positive and resilient in the midst of the growing fears and losses so many are facing. R|L remains ready to assist you during this time of need.

We hope these insights from the R|L Coaches will help diffuse negativity, loosen the grip of fear, and lead you to your own expressions of hope.

The R|L team

Clyde Lowstuter, MCC
President & CEO | Executive Coach

Acknowledge Your Fear and Uncertainty

In these unprecedented times, you can lessen fear’s grip and power over you. We find that ambiguity and uncertainty are felt personally as we become disconnected from our beliefs and comfortable patterns of behavior. It takes more energy to operate when your world has tilted. Our equilibrium shifts to either operating on overdrive or shutting down. The key to balance is to recognize our fears and to notice that we are experiencing anxiousness or stress. As leaders, how do we remain composed and resilient? I am reminded of Winston Churchill’s quote, “Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision.” With greater self-awareness of our own and others’ reactions, we can make positive choices to re-frame how we experience our circumstances. Being accountable for the impact our comments and reactions have on others, we begin to discover new-found ways to be resilient and exhibit personal power.

Carolyn Lowstuter
Executive VP | Executive Coach

Find Hope and Inspiration in Reading

I have been striving to remain positive during this fearful time. It’s been hard. I found great solace in a poem that a client forwarded to me entitled, “And the People Stayed Home…” by Kitty O’Meara. It renewed my optimism and reminded me how much I am grounded from reading inspiring authors. This poem reminded me of the “silver lining” all of us have if we but focus differently. We can move through this time with fresh learning and renewed values. It is easy to take reading for granted. There are so many other things that tug at our attention. Take some time this week to reach to your bookshelves. Maybe you’ll pull down a book you’ve meant to read or grab an old favorite. Whatever you select to read, may it shift your vantage point. Share your knowledge and inspirations from your reading as you virtually connect with your team or colleagues. It might give someone else the hope that they need.

Pat Henahan
Vice President | Executive Coach

Show Up for Others

As an Army officer and paratrooper in combat and peacekeeping missions, I faced many stressful moments. One of the best methods I discovered for keeping my equilibrium was to focus on showing up for others. Rather than dwelling on my own fears, I would look for someone who seemed to need a lift and try to help them. Some people want to joke around, some to pray, some to cry, some to play a game, etc…and I sought to engage in whatever kind of interaction they needed in that moment. These positive exchanges invariably lifted my spirits as much as it helped someone else, and I felt a modicum of control in chaotic and ambiguous situations. I’ve continued to use this strategy during the current crisis. I have also tried to set strict limits on how much time I spend reading or listening to the news. Initially, I didn’t do this and found myself squandering hours consuming “not really new news” which mostly served to increase my stress levels in ways that were not productive. Stay well and look for ways to serve others.

Matt Gonring
Vice President | Executive Coach

Delivery is Part and Parcel to Message

Taking a cue from legendary PR Leader Arthur Page, “Remaining calm and being good-humored in the face of adversity…” is an effective and farsighted management style. Especially in the midst of uncertainty, it’s important to recognize how much others take their cues from us. While what we say and write is important, when people are insecure and uneasy, how we say, deliver, and communicate information becomes, even more, a part of the message. Whether it be body language, non-verbal cues, voice tone, facial expressions, engagement settings, props, or emails these things all take the form of influencing a message. Taking into consideration receivers “net takeaways” – that is how we want them to feel is part and parcel to effective leadership. By doing so, leaders can step back and think carefully about the content and how best to deliver it in a manner that connotes empathy and sensitivities to the realities colleagues are living with each day. Uncertainty manifests itself in different ways with different people, taking this into consideration gives us a much better chance to achieve desired outcomes.

Ron Hirasawa
Vice President | Executive Coach

10 Ways To Manage Yourself In Stressful Times

1. Breathe, inhaling through your nose, filling your lungs and stomach. Exhale slowly through your mouth if possible. Repeat.
2. Smile! to family, associates, and friends. Mean it.
3. Be grateful for those who care for you and love you. Smile at them, and tell them you love them. Say thank you!
4. Help someone. Every day is good. Everything counts. From a small contribution to really putting in efforts to help. Expect nothing.
5. Laugh! Every day! Pass on an amusing story. Play with a pet. Read a favorite book. See and share a funny video.
6. Connect! Ask How… and What…open-ended questions of others first. Then tell about yourself.
7. Respect! Honor others for being, thinking, speaking, doing, connecting. Say, “I agree, thank you, I respect that…”
8. Just do it! (thanks Nike). Act first. Talk second.
9. Be honest! Tell the truth kindly.
10. Be compassionate! Be kind and care for others.

Susan Snowden

Vice President | Executive Coach

Move Your Body, Improve Your Mood

In these stressful times, we can convince ourselves that we deserve a treat. Having that extra helping or a handful of something gives us a momentary lift, but this lift doesn’t last. A better way to feel better is to get some exercise. Research shows exercise reduces stress and boosts your immunity and mood. There are many resources online for at-home exercises, there is already one entitled “The I’m Stuck at Home Workout!” The instructor uses bottles of detergent in place of free weights! Consider connecting and sharing your “sheltering in place” workout with others in your contact list. Providing and seeking support helps to keep you accountable. These times are tough; by all means, treat yourself. However, don’t forget to monitor your caloric, fat, and sugar intake, relative to the amount of energy burnt sitting in front of the computer or TV, and the boredom factor in sheltering in place. Watch out for stress eating and avoiding a workout. These cues can remind you to get up and move. You and your contacts will be better for it.

Nora Bouchard

Vice President | Executive Coach

Take the Coaches’ View

During this time of craziness, it may seem almost impossible to keep a “positive” attitude – to choose the light rather than the dark. There is so much uncertainty about health, work, family. How can anyone stay positive in a time like this?

Coaches often view crises as “breakdowns” or “breakthroughs.” It’s the time when we see what’s been hidden; what’s always been there but has been ignored. Up until this point, we have focused our attention on the day-to-day, immediate needs. The troubles and mundane challenges of life. But now, the health crisis is enabling us to see all the beautiful positives that have been hiding in plain sight. Like what, you ask?

  • Family
  • Nature
  • What we do have
  • What we don’t need
  • Friendships
  • Beauty
  • Sleep, rest
  • Technology that connects us
  • And yes, even toilet paper

Keep looking for what you had lost sight of! Stay home, stay healthy, stay positive!

Pat Mater

Vice President | Executive Coach

Continue Writing in Your Gratitude Journal

In these times, it may seem there is more worry and fear than things to be grateful for. But that is just a matter of perception. Let’s change that perception.

In December I wrote a blog about starting a gratitude journal. I find it amazing that people who recognize the things they are grateful for in their lives actually change the limbic system of their brain. When we express gratitude and receive gratitude, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin, the two critical neurotransmitters responsible for our emotions. This enhances our mood as well as re-wires our brain to be happier.

Even when the spotlight may be on the negative, a gratitude journal can help you refocus on the positive. What are some things you can be thankful for?

Let me get you started:

  • I am grateful for the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors – breathing deeply on a walk – and it is encouraged by the Surgeon General. Get outside and enjoy the beauty and fresh air!
  • I am grateful for technology that allows me and my family to still learn, grow, and be safe. Thanks to technology, we can still connect with others. We now have virtual coffee chats, happy hours, and meetings going on across the country! Set one up for yourself, if you haven’t already!
  • I am grateful for the goodness of people and companies and how difficult times bring the goodness out in others.
    – allowing free access for students 0 – 18 years old giving them something to do other than watch TV (
    – Libraries that offer free resources through their subscriptions: Cloud Library, Hoopla, Kanopy, Overdrive, and Libby. Check out your library if you haven’t already subscribed.
    – People volunteering to bring food, prescriptions, and other essential items to those who are unable to venture out.

We have much to be grateful for. What’s on the top of your list?

Dave Dallam
Vice President | Executive Coach

Choose To Be Fearless

These are extraordinarily stressful times. Existential threats to our democracy – and now to our individual and collective health and well-being – create levels of unprecedented chronic stress.

Under stress, each of us loses self-awareness and we regress to default thinking and behaviors, which are almost always fear-driven. They represent who we were, but not who we intend to be. This current environment offers us an opportunity. We can shelter in those defaults and give in to our baser selves, or we also have the option of remaining self-aware and using these difficult (and thankfully temporary) circumstances to act like the people we are working at becoming. It is not possible to be fearless, but the option to “choose to be fearless” is available to each of us. Ernest Hemingway is credited with saying that “Courage is grace under pressure.” My favorite expression is credited to the American silent film actress, Dorothy Bernard, “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.

Kathryn Hartrick
VP General Counsel | Executive Coach

Journaling for Perspective and Hope

One way I stay positive during times of uncertainty is to journal. Express yourself in a way that works best for you. I enjoy writing the old-fashioned way with one of my favorite pens and a small notebook that I carry around with me. Record your thoughts, poems, the news . . . or just doodle (or rant!). For me, journaling helps me see issues from a macro view. This distance provides me with perspective and increases hope. I began my journal on March 12th (the day we learned that our daughters’ school would be closed until after Spring Break). I am already amazed to go back and read entries from a little over two weeks ago. So much has changed, we have adapted. None of us can predict the future, but journaling may provide you with an outlet and help you stay positive. You can journal or doodle however you please!


This Post Has One Comment

  1. Kathryn Hartrick

    Update on the journal: Today is day 72; I am writing on page 180 of the journal. It is amazing how much has changed (how much I have changed) since March 12th. My daughters graduate from high school next weekend on May 31, 2020. While I am sure you experience a whole range of emotions on any given day, I hope, for the most part, your days are positive. For what it’s worth, humor has helped me stay positive too. Happy Memorial Day Weekend everyone (and keep washing your hands)!

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