Camiel Gielkens (CEO) and Marieke Schouten (Director) have an ongoing email conversation about the things they learn in everyday life. What does Camiel do to stay positive? And what tips does Marieke have for managers to keep everyone motivated in the second lockdown (which we are currently in, in the NL)?
You ended your previous email with the question "what is your secret catharsis". I had to look the word up, and now I understand that you refer to a kind of 'emotional cleansing'. Having powerful emotions such as sadness, fear, pity, or even laughter, which then brings about a cleansing of those same feelings. I recognize that. It isn't always easy to balance all your activities and responsibilities. There is so much uncertainty. And where then do you find that release? And perhaps even more importantly, what will that release bring you?
What I see in our office and among the clients we work with, and certainly also at home, is the power of a smile and optimism. And that, I believe, is exactly what such a release brings us. Now, we can all wait for the moment when we can once again loose ourselves into a dancing crowd. But it is much smarter to take command and start working today.
This is what helps me:
- I’m following the program 'Positive Intelligence' by Shirzad Chamine via an app. Every day I do mindfulness exercises and I get challenges that help me to be positive. I really recommend it to everyone! And just like you, I love those little videos with sports exercises that you can easily do at home. After half an hour of exercise the world is a different place again.
- It is logical that we have less patience when pressure is high. And that is certainly the case now. What I try to do in my relationships with others is to emphasize what is going well, and to talk about what we want to achieve together. Your father Jan Schouten often said to me: “Everything that receives attention, grows” and that's just the way it is.
- Within our company other forces are at play. And I really see it as a task for all of us to achieve positive changes through coaching. Coaching creates commitment, a culture in which we support each other and focus on the results we all want to achieve. And a good question can really make you laugh!
These days call for a different approach. Together, we want to make positive changes. What more can we do to put this into practice?
All the best,
Good to read the things you do to keep that positive vibe and to spread it. Positivity is something we all need, and secondly I think, giving perspective. To set your sights on something, your goals. Although given the current circumstances, it may feel difficult to think far ahead.
In the Netherlands we are now still in a second lockdown and I have noticed something in teams and organizations. Lockdown number one felt like a sudden unexpected event, it created a sense of urgency in many teams. Everybody was ready to do what was needed to survive. Within our organization, we were able to transform all our training programs from face to face to virtual in two (!) weeks’ time, no mean feat!
And don't forget all the trainers who suddenly had to be on board and all the participants who were approached with the (good) news that their chosen training course would take place virtually. It felt like an enormous adrenaline kick going through our building (virtually). A recognizable phenomenon for managers I spoke to at the time.
The second lockdown feels different. What strikes me now is the challenge people encounter to make sure everyone is ready for the time when all restrictions are lifted again. And preferably with tons of energy. I hear these sounds especially from the teams and organizations that are now in a kind of ‘hibernate survival mode’. Even though now is the time to tap into creativity and innovation, this doesn’t seem to be happening as much.
Reasons for this are manifold: too much work pressure, reduced involvement, lack of perspective. Legitimate feelings, but possibly we can identify something called ‘mental saboteurs’ at play here?
Continuing your current way of working will not lead to the innovations that you as an organization are looking for. After all, doing what you always do, does not lead to change. Here are some tips that help me and that I talk about with managers when they run into this with their teams.
I hope these tips will inspire others:
- Insecurity is killing. This is a fact, full stop. Identify difficulties and look at what you CAN influence and what gives you energy, alone or together as a team. Make sure those sources of energy stay top of mind for yourself and your team. This works differently for everyone; you can make it visual, use a symbol, attach a sound/music to it, everything goes. As long as it gives you energy.
- Make a conscious decision to approach things positively. I spoke to a manager who had reached her limit when I asked her something for a project. She smiled, took a deep breath before she said, "Marieke I'm extremely busy, but I've decided not to go along with the negativity and to approach everything positively. So give me a day to think about it and I'll come up with a proposal."
- Keep offering perspective. It is related to what I mentioned earlier. Set future goals for yourself and your team. This gives direction and certainty. And very important: celebrate intermediate steps. Whether this is a step towards innovation or the fact that the schools are opening, it does not matter. Just be aware of it and celebrate it! If necessary, put it on the agenda for yourself and your team.
- Organize a virtual team day. A lot can be achieved together and it leads to connection. Don't go through a hundred slides, but throw in some fun and space for creativity.
- Invest in vitality. An obvious one, I know. But if you are in survival-mode, this can be overlooked. So, if you want to run that marathon with your team to be able to serve your customers again, then this is something to pay attention to.
- Be vulnerable and be aware you are a role model. In our last letter, I indicated that I wanted to be a role model. For me, this also means that at least once a week, I have a conversation (read: REAL ATTENTION) with a colleague, customer, supplier or entrepreneur. And not in terms of content or tasks, but personally. And take some time off and reflect, so that you may see things from a different perspective.
Do you have a question to Camiel and Marieke?
Curious to know what they think of a specific theme relevant to you? Share it with them (you have their email address now). They might just refer to it in their next emails!
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