Breaking groundhog day - CEO blog

The wind hisses through leaves and needles, the birds whistle and sing, the odd bushwalkers laugh and converse... This is my foreground as I write this post and I'm very fortunate to refer to it as my backyard.

I read a Guardian article recently about the importance of breaking up the routine to lift our lockdown mood and this groundhog day feeling we're experiencing. So what a better thing to do than choose nature as my writing inspiration, and get some exercise in the process?!

Truth is, life is not exactly the best it has ever been at present. I'm feeling this lockdown much more than when we first experienced Covid in 2020 - and I know many share the feeling.

For our business, the timing couldn't be worse. We were just launching our new face-to-face high school wellbeing program, a critical piece to support the sustainability of our for purpose organisation. So we've had to pivot (heard that word before?) and focus our work for the time being on developing evidence-based resources for teachers to support student wellbeing.

At home, we're going through major renovations (with a very unreasonable neighbour, to say the least) and no means of escaping to a cafe for a day's work.

Amongst the latest Covid numbers, climate change updates and all the bad news, it can be pretty hard to pop our head above the surface and get a glimpse of what the future might look like. For leaders, who are often meant to be crystal ball holders, that's a new reality to adapt to.

I participated in a Tenfold Australia webinar recently on innovative leadership. The presenters explained that CEOs are meant to be 'absorbers of all shocks' for the organisation and doing this is now incredibly hard. The level of ambiguity is such that it's difficult to predict where the next move will go and as most people don't like working with ambiguity, the challenge can feel unsurmountable. A few tips wisely shared by the presenters included:

Preparedness is far more important than prediction in this climate
Ask the team how they're going and normalise that it's ok to not be ok and to not have all the answers
Lean on your team
Don't double down on control: set the standards, expectations, outcomes and have faith that, if you have the right people, it will get done
I would add to this list, continue to share your vision and choose what you focus on. Because this is what it comes down to: we can't control current events, but we can control what we focus our time, thoughts and energy on, and how we look after ourselves.

Yes, some days, I feel like crawling back in bed or running away (if only I could!). But I'm fortunate to have the most perfect man for me, happy and healthy children, a place to call home and one of the most purposeful job. I have a lot to be grateful for.

Back to my bushland vista, I'm reminded by a mosquito and a baby snake that this office isn't mine. I made my way back home feeling... different. Different is good.

Kim Larochelle

Kim joined The Helmsman Project as a volunteer when it first started delivering programs in 2013. In January 2014, she became one of the organisation's first two employees and is now CEO. She has had the privilege, along with the team, to witness and support The Helmsman Project's growth.

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