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Redefining Success in Turbulent Times


This article is written by special contributor Erin McCloskey from Erin Jewell Consulting.

The current circumstances, variously labeled as a health pandemic, financial pandemic, health crisis, etc., have become a call for us to reevaluate how we support ourselves, get in service, and to think about how we might begin again. This call speaks to us not only as leaders but also as mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, as global citizens. Lives that once felt routine may now seem restrictive, finite, and uncertain.

We have worked so hard to find our place and purpose, only to have much of that pulled out from underneath us overnight. Money, jobs, and lives are being swept away as if they were never there. People who were taught to separate emotions from problems are now having a problem understanding their own emotions.

As leaders, we must make choices about whether to let go of employees or close down businesses. We feel we must consider families in the middle of buying their first homes, for example; what will happen if they lose their jobs? Alternatively, with schools closing down, will children be left home alone without any food while parents continue to go to their jobs, grateful for their “essential” work? Now more than ever, it’s important to remind ourselves that these times present us with unprecedented events for which no one could have ever prepared.

These new challenges can put us in “survive mode” over “thrive mode” – particularly if you find yourself at a point in your career when you thought you must have seen it all. In this mode of functioning, self-doubt can infect all facets of our life from our presence to our mindfulness, from our hope to our authenticity. To reiterate, though, in such turbulent times, we must turn within and give ourselves permission to reevaluate how we support ourselves, get in service, and to think about how we might begin again

Oftentimes, the highest performing leaders are those who struggle the most with what is known as “insecure over-achievement.” There are many strengths to this profile: great achievements, commanding presence, high intellect, and other leadership qualities. When stress triggers of this magnitude take place, these very same individuals begin to default to less healthy ways of self-support.

Now is the time to tap into the best guide you have, the guide within you. The best way to discern whether or not your inner guide is talking is to ask: is the guidance coming from a place of love or a place of fear? If the words are coming from a place of love and abundance, this is your inner guide talking. If the words are coming from a place of fear or lack, it is not your inner guide. Trust the choices you make during this time and do not feel like you have to make them alone.

Get in Service
Do what you can to be in service. In other words, think about what you can give back that was freely given to you. This will help increase a personal sense of freedom by putting you in control of the service you give during a time of powerlessness. Keep it simple; send a text, phone a friend, or Facetime a family member. Getting in service has a more intrinsic value and can even release ‘feel good’ chemicals that are not necessarily being released much right now. Do it today, now, not later.

Begin Again
There is a story about students studying to become monks. These students are required as part of their training to create sandpainting art. The students would spend hundreds of hours with the stencil and sand, carefully crafting beautiful creations. These intricate designs relied on specificity, patience, undivided focus and attention for their awe-inspiring effect.

The students were tasked with preparing these masterpieces as part of their class grade and would not be able to move forward until the art was complete. There were few opportunities for breaks, and students would work tirelessly to complete these tasks.

When it came time to grade, their teacher would approach each student and the respective student’s art. The teacher would carefully study the art, spending time on each and every detail. Once the observation period was complete, the teacher would lean over and, with a steady hand, wipe the sand away. The teacher’s hand in effect destroyed all of the student’s work, and, at that point, the student would be instructed to begin again.

Begin again. Invite expansion, growth, new and better ways of operating, achieving, connecting, being.

As I work on these three processes myself, I am reminded of a poem by Kitty Omeara that concludes, “And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth as fully as they had been healed.” Let’s agree not to hold back on all that we have been given to share with the world. If we are able to accomplish this, we shall emerge with fresh energy, fresh perspective, and fresh love for ourselves and others.

Mindset and Performance Coach Erin McCloskey is a published author, professional speaker, and adjunct professor of business and mindset at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. Erin has over 18 years of experience as a startup founder, healthcare sector leader and sales professional in the life sciences sector. Erin holds an MBA in Systems Thinking and a BS in Marketing from Villanova University. She also has professional certifications in Qigong, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Therapy, Transformational Vinyasa Flow, Meditation and Pranayama (Breathwork). For more info please visit:

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