The future is you: Why compassion is talk of the town

By Heather Gibson, Managing Director, Pendulum Partnership

The cold bucket of water you need to think straight has arrived: compassion. For in this one word the focus for your leadership must change and not in the direction we have learnt to believe for many years.

Leaders – women and men – the truth is that compassion starts yourself first and it is through this lens that you will be able to frame the complex challenges you are facing.  Unknown, conflicting problems and the resulting hardcore journey of grit and fluidity needed to regenerate sustainable value in your business.

Disruption does not just impact business models, it requires new rules; for the whole game, over the long term. The impact of seismic change has already gone much further than our current perception of what disruption actually is and it is vital that we get ahead of the curve to anticipate what might happen, and this is because the entire fabric of our journey on this planet is shapeshifting. Putting that suit on and going to work is no longer the alternate face of your life, and possibly solace, that it may once have been. Unimaginable external transformation is breaking down generic stereotypes to force us to look much deeper at our own lives – and quite rightly – because we are being forced to relearn how to survive, provide and thrive. 

“I suspect that the desire to practice more self-compassion is that nagging voice in your head, but you struggle to resist the temptation to pull back to the status quo”

To deal with complexity and make focused decisions leaders must communicate with transparency and this means that individuality is the ultimate position of strength in these new rules of the game. Central to the development of transparency is self-compassion. In short, you have to make time for you and only you, so that you can bring your leadership A-game to the fore. Far more than emotionally intelligent behaviour, self-compassion is the outcome of applying the inner comfort of having your own needs met and appreciating life and our world for what is as a result. Need to take a moment? Take a moment. Do what you need to do to look after all of you. Don’t push through out of habit or ritual, and don’t ignore the impact of having done so on your health.

To be openly kind to oneself in our business world is an anathema in the dead paradigm, the one you are probably still gravitating to when the shades of grey get too much.  Everyone has a lot going on and it is all too tempting to make assumptions about outcomes, to swallow the words of your gut instinct and look through your own eyes at a situation. Living a more rounded, holistic life that gives you what you want will not only make you happy but provide the clarity and freedom of thinking that will appreciate how the act of transparency will break down barriers and let you get things done. Oh, I know this might sound simple and that you may even believe this is how it is for you right now.  But spoiler alert: I know that this is just not true. That we hide in parts of our lives to compensate for others, which is not mentally healthy or sustainable. But the time is up. There is nowhere to hide; your brilliant business strategy, effective delivery and leadership of change is to unmask the real you. The holistic, open-minded, transparent and creative thinker that is the new order of leadership. The leader who is willing to stand above the rules of the game and translate what is going on in their mind into real life communication.

“When I talk to leaders about how to become limitless I preface my discussion about getting in the zone, meaning to operate through the lens of love, compassion, gratitude and non-judgement as the everyday starting point for human connection.”

When I talk to leaders about how to become limitless I preface my discussion about getting in the zone, meaning to operate through the lens of love, compassion, gratitude and non-judgement as the everyday starting point for human connection.  This is a practised mindset and totally essential before we even get into the art of leading through your own values to break down scenarios in a way that allows you to keep moving forward.  Of these elements self-compassion is potentially the hardest to master as many leaders have unlearned what this was all about many years ago, having been schooled in the mastery of logic, false economic paradigms, stereotypes and what this told us we needed to make it in this life. What did this all boil down to though? Right now, as we look back on a time – even as recent as the past week or month – that looked very different to today? Crisis lets us know that nothing is more important than love; and it starts with self-love.

I suspect that the desire to practice more self-compassion is that nagging voice in your head, but you struggle to resist the temptation to pull back to the status quo. It can be all too easy to do this when the routine is entrenched, and you are not quite sure where to start. It’s time to rise above it: make it happen, and make it happen now. A more holistic and mentally healthy mindset is the absolute foundation of what is needed to improve.  The status quo is dead and the challenge is to ensure that you are able to adapt as quickly as possible to deliver great leadership in difficult times. The problem is, you don’t know what the problem is and there is a very good reason we need new thinking.  The major upside is the opportunity to leverage all the forces of change and get to a place the is agile, sustainable and profitable. Dream, think and do: the future is you.