Shelter from the Storm

There are times in life where everything runs smoothly.

Where whatever we touch turns to gold. And when the wind gently lifts beneath our sails, gliding us safely along.

This is what I call the “I’m on fire” phase.

Then there are times when we navigate stormy waters. During these times, we clutch at the ship’s wheel, doing our best just to stay afloat.

This is what I call the “give me strength to get through today” phase.

In my coaching practice, I have seen leaders maneuvering both of these chapters.

What I’ve learned, is the importance of stopping to celebrate when we are experiencing the “I’m on fire” stage.  This is relatively easy to do, provided we are mindful of the moment and aware of the benefits.

Today’s post is on what you can do when crossing the “please give me strength” days.

It could be that despite colossal efforts on your own and your team’s behalf, all the hard work is yet to manifest in results.

Perhaps it feels like you are running to stand still.

It could be you are leading a particularly gnarly restructuring, making tough calls which have a major impact on the lives of others.

It could be, as a friend of mine says, “the bullsh*t domino effect is goin’ down, with everything falling over, one after the other.”

Or, it could be you are grappling with the ‘big stuff’ in your personal life. At times like this it can be difficult to just get out of bed and face the working day.

I’m betting you are well aware that turbulence is a necessary part of life’s journey.

But the reality is, it still stings.  

This week has been one of those weeks for me.  So, I decided to take the analogy of the stormy waters and ask myself,

“what helps to navigate them?”  

The Leader's Digest

Image source: Flickr Commons.

As I researched this question, the concept of safe havens sprung up again and again.

For centuries, ships have taken shelter from the storm in islands and coves to wait out the wild weather.

What are your safe havens?

What are the things, places and people who help you to take refuge, even if it’s only momentarily?

Why is important to identify our safe havens?

Tough times drain our energy – physically, emotionally and mentally. We must find ways to fill our tank, so we can get through the other side with the best possible outcome.

Often we are so busy focussing on the needs of others when navigating stormy waters (i.e. our crew), we forget that as captain of our ship, we are no good to anyone if we are failing to look after ourselves.

What can you do to replenish your spirit, build your resilience and refill your cup?

It could be time alone. Or offloading to some form of objective sounding board. For many of us, exercise is a form of a safe haven.  For some, it’s writing.  For others, it’s music.

When I asked myself what did I need as my safe haven, I was surprised at what came up.

My safe haven was lying horizontal on the couch, with my 5 year-old and 9 year-old doing what they love to do – lying on top of me, like puppies, grounding me. Watching mindless TV with them, being close to the simple, unconditional love kids are so incredible at offering, especially on a physical sense.

So, if you are experiencing stormy waters and find yourself saying “give me strength to get through today”, follow it up in the next breath with, “What are my safe havens?”

Where can I go, who can I talk to – and what do I need to get through?

Give yourself permission to take refuge in your safe havens. Even if it’s just for a moment.

What do you find useful when navigating stormy waters? Do you have a safe haven/s? I would love to hear from you, please leave your comments below. And if this post resonates with you, please share it.

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  1. […] need to feel supported as much as your team. Have your own support networks in place. What are your safe havens? Where do you go when the going gets tough? Who can you talk to? Leading through change is […]

  2. [email protected] on March 21, 2014 at 8:15 am

    Lovely blog Suzi. I too had a stormy week and found shelter in my eagle eyrie. ..i retreated in my mind, to high on a mountain protected by cliffs. Surveyed my world from there til I was ready to fly again. Hope your week is calming down Jx Sent from my iPad

    • The Leader's Digest on March 22, 2014 at 4:32 am

      Thanks so much for sharing J. Hope your week next week brings you calmer waters also.

  3. paradigms of leadership on March 21, 2014 at 7:10 am

    Thanks Suzi for sharing this…a wonderful reminder that we source our strength from all around us!

  4. richnegrin on March 21, 2014 at 6:10 am

    Excellent post. I find my safe havens in the faces of the people we are positively impacting, people in the neighborhoods, particularly our young people. Also, sometimes taking the time to take a quick inventory of where we have come and the progress we have made can also put everything in the proper perspective. Thanks for this.

    • The Leader's Digest on March 22, 2014 at 1:16 am

      I love your safe haven ideas Ryan. These are simple yet effective ways to navigate those stormy waters. Thanks for commenting.

  5. mcalpmagoo on March 21, 2014 at 1:31 am



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Suzi McAlpine

Suzi McAlpine is a Leadership Development Specialist and author of the award-winning leadership blog, The Leader’s Digest. She writes and teaches about accomplished leadership, what magic emerges when it’s present, and how to ignite better leadership in individuals, teams and organisations. Suzi has been a leader and senior executive herself, working alongside CEOs and executive teams in a variety of roles. Her experience has included being a head-hunter, an executive coach, and a practice leader for a division at the world’s largest HR consulting firm. Suzi provides a range of services as a Leadership Development Specialist, including executive coaching, leadership workshops and development programmes for CEOs, leadership teams and organisations throughout New Zealand.

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