3 Leadership Steps to Easily Move from Feeling Helpless to Hopeful


Success coach and emotional resilience expert, Suzanne Dudley-Schon shares her brilliance in this week’s Upside Thought. 

Suzanne understands that the beingness of leadership matters more than the doingness of leadership. You can take all of the tactical leadership actions that generate success and not be a leader worth following. 

This week, she’s written about having the opportunity to practice mindfulness, her personal experiences from how to move out of overwhelm when situations and events are out of your control.  

Happy Reading! 

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When I read the newspaper or articles online, I find myself bracing and anxious. There is so much hardship and horror going on in the world– such that merely reading about it can activate the feeling of being under siege by an onslaught of insurmountable awfulness. 

The information is generally about situations over which I have very little control which adds to my sense of overwhelm and impotence. 

Whether activated by the news or just a seemingly endless to-do list, do you ever feel this way? 

I’d like to offer a pause, something to ponder, and perhaps a path to hopefulness. If you are willing, would you take three small steps with me? 

Step 1: Take at least three deep breaths. With each inhale through your nose, raise your arms and fill your lungs as much as possible. Exhale through your mouth as you lower the arms. Make sure to empty your lungs completely. Repeat until you feel yourself centering, mind and body settling. Notice this new state. How does it feel in your legs, arms, chest? 

Step 2: Consider the following: while there is plenty in life to cause a sense of stress and overwhelm in your life and in the greater world, there is also plenty of “eustress.” Eustress is “moderate or normal psychological stress interpreted as being beneficial for the experiencer.” 

Step 3: Can you choose one thing that you can take from your list of stressors and re-label it as being a eustress? For example– identify a particular disruption or challenge to your life that has induced growth or exposed potential? Just one. Focus on how you and what you learned how you have grown, and how you feel in response to that growth. 

We are being asked to think and act more consciously across many areas of our lives: how we speak, how we impact others and our environment, how we work and care for our health. I

n being asked to become aware newly, we notice more, and in doing so, we can see our own responsibility newly… and feel the weight of it. It can be quite uncomfortable! 

While no one wants to sign up for pain and discomfort… it’s in these moments/places where we have an opportunity to experience some of our most valuable learning. It’s a pivotal, powerful place to be. 

Our discomfort signals our bodies, hearts, and minds. It is a request to make an adjustment, to grow, to develop. 

Changes can be physical/external or internal. An adjustment may be what we need to do in order to get comfortable with something being different. Sometimes, what’s called for is an attitude shift or a growth edge around the acquisition of new skills again. 

In the new phase, there is often awkwardness. Unevenness of skills. Like a colt with long, gangly legs, it takes a while before getting coordinated, and in the gawky phase of growing, we learn a lot. It’s not always easy. We may stumble and fall on the way to a coherent gallop. 

The current “messiness” of life can impel and compel us to get creative, collaborate, and solve some complex problems from a very different consciousness. We might just come out the other side of this tumultuous time in much better shape.  

As we develop awareness and understanding, learning to use our new legs, remember to apply patience and perseverance. Feel free to repeat steps 1,2, and 3 … perhaps we’ll be waltzing before too long. 

ACTION:  The Upside Challenge for the week is to practice 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3. At least once a day. 

Keep a daily record of what you notice. 

At the end of the week, see if there has been a cumulative effect. 

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