We are all navigating a storm. We know it is happening, we know it is gaining momentum, we know it is heading in our direction. We don’t know when it will arrive exactly, but we know it will come. We know that this is a critical incident, we know that there are casualties and that there will be more. We are practising our survival techniques, we are honing our navigation strategies, we are gathering our safety resources. We are using our values to stay buoyant, physically and emotionally.
The Safety Briefing
Whenever we go on a journey, we need to know how to stay safe. We need a trainer to explain to us what to do in the case of an emergency. We all need to hear the same message, we all need to respond in the same way. We need to hear the shared vision and the collective responsibility. We need to act accordingly. It is the intelligent thing to do.
What values are our leaders showing us right now? Do these leadership values instil our trust?Are they the values we want to be seeing and following in our leaders?
In the UK, I have been inspired by the school leaders who are making difficult decisions in a humane way and by the Headteachers who are challenging the decision-making from the system. Globally, the leader who embodies the values of courage, compassion and common sense I want to trust in is Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand. She has been a country leader for 3 years and is a year younger than me, she is impressive in the emotional intelligence she has and the values she models. She is a swan and seems to take everything in her stride in her characteristically composed and compassionate way.
The Safety Manual
We have literature we can read. We should all be reading it, and not relying on someone else to read it for us. We need to listen to the experts and follow the instructions we are being given for our collective safety. We need to learn from the case studies of what is and what is not working. We need to be consistent in how we follow the instructions. It is the sensible thing to do.
Who are our experts during this time? Who is talking sense? Who is making pragmatic, human-centred decisions? Who is sharing helpful advice?
I am filtering the information I am consuming. I am keeping my social media feeds positive. I look for updates when I want to check something but am not overwhelming myself with the news, I am not sure it helps. I am trying to steer every conversation I am having away from doom and gloom, towards hope.
The Life Jacket
We all need to put on our own personal flotation device. We need the protection from this piece of equipment that is designed to keep us afloat in water. We don’t know when, or in fact if, we will end up in the stormy seas, but we need it on, just in case. We need to don the protective layer. It is the responsible thing to do.
What resources have you invested in to ensure you stay safe? What habits and routines have you changed to ensure that you stay afloat? How are you keeping others safe? How are you challenging your loved ones when they are not acting in a responsible way?
I am going about my new routine in a careful and considered way. I am checking in with friends and family, discussing options and opportunities as they arise and challenging if I do not agree with decision-making. My hands are parched from all of the hand washing. My body is craving a hug from all of the social distancing.
We need our internal compass to help us navigate and orientate the journey. It will help us keep going in the right direction. We are heading due North, but our route has obstacles in its way. The compass will return us to our course each time we detour off. We need to listen to our intuition and follow our gut. It is the dignified thing to do.
Which values are guiding you right now? Which values do you need to develop? Which values can you gift to your friends, family and community?
I am trying to balance thinking as an individual and behaving as a collective whole. I am reaching out to people to listen and support. I am being kind, courageous and resilient. I am also creating boundaries though, I need to self-preserve so that I have the energy to help look after others too.
We need our external lighthouse to emit light to help us navigate the waterways. The silhouette of this structure built to protect us is looming on the horizon, we can see it through the storm. It is guiding us. At times it will become so dark and overcast we will not be able to see it but we feel its presence. We will continue on our journey. It is the moral thing to do.
Who or what is keeping you calm? Who or what are you relying on? Who or what is helping you stay positive, hopeful and optimistic for the future?
I am doing the right thing, even when no-one is watching or checking. I am trying to find the small pleasures in our new regime, celebrate the small wins along our way. I am keeping my spirits up and connecting with friends when I need a pick me up, as they are with me.
The Coast Guard
We need to do as we are told. Other countries are managing the pandemic better because they are cultures who are more obedient and they are used to following strict social rules. We need to consider that each time one of us is socially irresponsible that we are putting another live at risk. We need to consider the vulnerable people we know, and the vulnerable people our networks know. We also need to be mindful that the key workers are putting themselves at risk to look after ourselves. We need to do as instructed, until we are told otherwise. It is the obedient thing to do.
Have you broken any of the social distancing rules? Are you bending any of the expectations? How are you holding the needs of others alongside your own needs?
I have not stock piled and I have not booked massive online deliveries. I have not bought a chest freezer nor filled the garage as if the world is about to end. There are a few non-essentials I have run out of. It has made me think about how little I actually need to survive.
The Storm Lamps
When our visibility is poor, we sometimes need to rely on source of light, a lamp, a candle or a torch. We need to be a source of light and strength for one another. We need to help each other navigate the darkness. It is the kind thing to do.
How can you be a source of strength and hope for others? How can you inject some positivity and optimism into the world?
I like visual symbols. The #RainbowsOfHope are a representation of the weather and the mood changing. I have drawn them for our windows but also for my neighbours. I have ordered a pack of rainbow cards to write to friends and family, to post some hope and some love through their letter boxes.
We need to follow the rules. We need to stay in our designated spaces. We also need to be resilient. We need to bounce off of each other and keep each other float in the coming months. It is the honourable thing to do.
How can you keep your spirits up? How can you uplift others? How can you add some humour and some lightheartednesss into your life right now?
Despite the doom and gloom, I am laughing a lot. I am reaching out to people to show that I care, and I am being reached out to. I am connecting with people and talking nonsense, sharing stories, listening to concerns.
The Life Boat
We need our rescue crafts to attend to rescue us if we do have a collision and become a vessel in distress. Our crew and our passengers will be pulled out of the sea, some will be injured, some will survive. We need to ensure that our life boats can access us. We need to ensure that we are not putting the rescuers in a place of danger too. It is the respectful thing to do.
How are you ensuring that your actions are not putting others at risk? How are you helping to keep others safe?
I am eating what I have in the cupboards, I am exercising in isolation. I am in the safety of my 4 walls, all day every day, I am staying home to stay safe and save lives. I keep reminding myself, the world is not going anywhere but our lives could.
As the storm hits we need to hit pause, take stock and put our anchors down. Our anchors will hold us tight and support us. It might feel at the moment like everything is in chaos and out of our control. We need to consider what we can and what we cannot control, and find peace with that. It is the mindful thing to do.
What can you no longer control? What can you control? What can you do, step by step, to regain a sense of control over your life?
On my peer coaching support circle calls this week we have reflected on what we can anchor. What one thing can we tie down this week, and then each week as we progress in our reflections, we will try to tie a different thing down until the control over our lives feels like it is back in our hands.
We need to stay home to stay safe and to stay alive. My harbour is my house and my garden. They are my sanctuary, my space of peace and calm. Physical safety is important right now, as is emotional safety – our families and friends are the supporting walls that protect us from the storm. We need stay in the harbour. It is the safe thing to do.
How are you coping with spending so much time at home? How are you managing living on top of your loved ones? Or how are you managing being totally by yourself, as many people are?
My parents are on their farm in Devon. They are both vulnerable following recent accidents but they are still quite young and they are very self-sufficient. They are safer there by themselves, away from us all, in their bubble than they are if my sister or I tried to visit, but that is hard to think and hard to say out loud.
To finish my morning musings, when I was a headteacher I wrote our school homily. It encompassed our 12 community values. We shared it at the end of each assembly – many of the children learnt it off by heart. I am going to work on a homily for the values we need in the world right now and share a variation as a daily affirmation for us to reflect on.