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Everyone wants to feel significant. Yet the circumstances created by the pandemic can damage mental health including our self-esteem.
Many wrap a large part of their identity into their careers. As the crisis alters work and professional circumstances, self-worth suffers.
How is your self-confidence these days?
Perhaps you have lost your job. Or maybe you are working from home without a clear and compelling structure. Even if you are operating in a public workspace, the current conditions may have altered your job’s nature and limited your interactions with others.
Who wouldn’t be feeling disoriented?
Nevertheless, you don’t have to wait for the pandemic to end to regain some footing. You can find a way forward through simple yet powerful acts:
- Refresh your way of thinking
- Make new commitments and act on them
Thoughts Affect Mental Health: Time to Refresh Yours
Mindsets are stubborn and often resist inspection. Nevertheless, now is the time to examine yours.
Do you need some inspiration? Consider the declaration of purpose issued in 2019 by the Washington-based Business Roundtable (BRT). Yes, their statements refer to companies. However, the underlying themes can apply to individuals as well.
BRT stated every corporation has its unique reason for existing. However, the corporation’s fundamental purpose is to serve all stakeholders, not just shareholders, while supporting the dignity and meaning of all lives.
Consider how to translate these pledges into your personal commitments.
Here are some suggestions:
Consider All Stakeholders
Perhaps your first reaction to this BRT statement is to ask what this has to do with you. After all, you don’t have stakeholders, do you?
Refresh your way of thinking.
According to the dictionary, a stakeholder is “one who is involved in or affected by a course of action.”
Unquestionably, all of us affect others through our actions. Therefore, we have stakeholders!
Your next steps regarding stakeholders:
- Identify them. Think about who is involved in or affected by your course of action. Most of us will name family, friends, employers, and customers. And include your community and society at large in your list. We all have the power to affect our world.
- Examine how you bring them value. Now is the time for a checkup. What do you contribute to the lives of your stakeholders?
Support Meaning and Dignity for All
BRT stated every person has the right to succeed through hard work and creativity. And all of us should be able to live with meaning and dignity.
In our polarized and hateful world, this commitment is more important than ever. Examine what do you do to honor this pledge.
A Black professional woman describes the unassessed assumption concerning the “rightness” of white values, norms, and rituals. She argues convincingly that white presumptions of intellect and right and wrong win the day.
Often white people do not appreciate how much Black people have to understand the white culture to maneuver in their daily lives.
What are you doing to refresh your mindset concerning the cultures and life experiences of others?
Your next step regarding meaning and dignity:
- Consider how you can uncover your assumptions about diverse others and increase your empathy for your stakeholders.
You have identified your stakeholders and thought about how you can increase your understanding and appreciation of them. Now consider how you can increase the value you deliver to them.
This is the time for action!
The Business Roundtable pledged to meet or exceed the expectations of their customers. They promised to invest in their employees, treat their suppliers ethically, support the communities where they work, and generate long-term value for shareholders.
What equivalent commitments are you willing to make? Here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Invest in your relationships with your stakeholders. Your life satisfaction is likely to increase when you shift your dealings with others to more than mere transactions. Focus on what you give rather than what you get as you reflect on your relationships. Increase the energy you apply to help your family, friends, and colleagues address their problems and celebrate their successes.
- Expand your network. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion expert Judy Ellis suggests identifying the ten people you seek out the most, and if you do not have any diverse voices, reach out. Why? Because, in Ellis’s words, “empathy or understanding happens most powerfully in one-on-one interactions.” And no excuses, please. These days we can build relationships with almost anyone we choose in our communities and world.
- View movies in Netflix’s Black Lives Matter category to understand the history of bias and discrimination. Ellis says this activity will be far from painful. The movies are excellent. And, let’s face it, most of us are seeking some entertainment at home right now.
- Acknowledge and use your power and influence to contribute to your culture, whether professional, organizational, municipal, or societal. Don’t leave the hard work to others. You might consider volunteering in your community. Or perhaps you can participate in an affinity group or ERG through your workplace.
- Join a movement that shares your hopes and values. For example, WeTheChange is a movement started by a group of women CEOS running purpose-driven enterprises. They drafted a declaration claiming that business must be a force for good focused on generating abundance and prosperity for all. They support Black Lives Matter by organizing financial support for Black-led groups. They formed a political action advocacy group that is spearheading a get-out-the vote campaign. And they established a working group to explore shifting capital to sustainable, women-owned businesses.
Failure to Act Affects Our Mental Health
When we give in to our anxiety and fail to act, we suffer the personal consequences, and our stakeholders lose out.
In a recent New York Times article, When Good People Don’t Act, Evil Reigns, Charles Blow argues that each of us must take a stand. He asks us to relinquish our magical thinking that the “horrors of the world will simply work themselves out.”
If we worry and wait for catastrophes to pass and uncertainties to resolve, our circumstances are likely to deteriorate along with our mental health.
Remember that your career doesn’t define you.
Don’t delay. Make a positive difference in the world now. The pandemic won’t keep us down forever. In the meantime, lead your life with purpose and meaning. Refresh your mindset and take action.