Coping

By Christine Hollinden

I recently led a leadership retreat based on the book, The Zen Leader by Ginny Whitelaw. One concept describes how easy it is to get stuck in a state of coping when faced with daily business challenges. Coping is the rabbit hole of defensiveness where one hides, blaming everyone and everything for the problems at hand. As leaders, we know that we simply cannot let small issues become boulders blocking our path to success. Yet, how often do we fall into the trap of complaining, blaming, or other similar states of coping?

Whitelaw identifies other outward expressions of coping as “whining, worrying, defending, denying, resisting, tolerating, storming out, blowing up, folding our arms, defiance, and reluctance to follow rules.” It’s inevitable we’ve all seen or experienced this resistance in both our professional and personal lives. Unfortunately, a leader stuck in coping reduces his overall effectiveness.

While we often hear, “get over it” the message to acknowledge (and embrace) is actually “get over yourself” or “get past your ego.” In other words, we must accept the situation as “this is what it is,” expunge excuses or blame (coping), and view the challenge in terms of possibilities (transformation). This is described as making the flip from coping to transforming.

View problems as challenges and opportunities, and we engage our creativity as we explore the possibilities and solutions. Coping, fueled by fear, brings hesitancy and paralysis in decision making – something few can afford in today’s fast-paced world.

Leaders have a choice – let the daily grind become boulders that block the path, or see every challenge as an opportunity to be nimble, progressive, and a firm that charts the course.

Relinquish fear, and embrace the joys of leadership. As Whitelaw writes: “Acceptance, joy, and enthusiasm are the hallmarks of the Zen leader.”

The choice is yours – make excuses and play the victim, or change your perception and meet challenges head-on with enthusiasm.