At Talent Plus we are committed to a society that is diverse, inclusive, caring, respectful and insanely curious. This applies not only to our family of colleagues, partners and clients, but also to the perspectives shared among us. Through our internal and guest blog series, we celebrate thought leadership and “know how,” that by building relationships and expanding our knowledge through these conversations, we are helping ourselves and others invest in personal growth. We accept content written by outside contributors to help foster these conversations, some opinions may not necessarily reflect those of Talent Plus.
Last weekend I walked to a cute little boutique in my Kentucky neighborhood. It was a non-essential shopping trip; my first since February. The lone, masked associate was beyond excited to see another human being and talked my ear off.
While in the boutique, I saw a 2020 planner entitled “Things I’ll Cancel Later” and had a hearty laugh at the now-irony. I thought of all the things I would have joyfully entered into that planner then later crossed out with an aggressive, black Sharpie. The Sharpie of sadness. The Sharpie of grief.
In a Harvard Business Review interview, “That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief”, Scott Berinato and David Kessler discussed the uncharacteristic grief of this unsettling season. Kessler shared “we are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air,” which I could not agree with more. Everyone is experiencing a unique cocktail of grief, yet the commonality is we are all drinking.
But where, I ask, might our talents come into play in this season of grief? Where should they come into play?
While we have been inundated in cancellations, fear and loss, we must rise above and take control of uncertainty where we can. Our talents are our most valuable resource for regaining control. In such a time as we have experienced with COVID-19, we can forget our talents and, more importantly, forget the power they give us. Let’s explore two points the Kessler-Berinato interview reveals about grief and connect them to the power our talents inherently provide.
Kessler explains that one form of grief we are experiencing is “anticipatory grief,” which is the mind going into the uncertain future and imagining the worst. Anticipatory grief can flood us with anxiety and worry. The antidote is balance; we must counteract the worst-case scenarios of our mind by intentionally producing positive images. Honor and accept that we are feeling the bad but offset it with the good.
Now let’s connect this to your talents. How can you creatively leverage your talents to combat anticipatory grief?
Maybe one of your talents is your high energy level. You are active, fit and always on the move. What if every time you are feeling overwhelmed with anticipatory grief, you get outside and take a walk around the neighborhood. This walk has talent-driven purpose; at each intersection you mentally pause and think of two positive images to counteract the worst-case scenario images dominating your mind.
Or, maybe storytelling is one of your great talents. People eagerly surround you at parties to hear your avid rendition of winning the high-school football game in double overtime. What if, when anticipatory grief takes over, you craft and tell the future story about how you used this uncertain season to create your own, wildly successful company?
Kessler also talks about his addition to the Kübler-Ross stages of grief; the sixth stage of finding meaning. Once discovering the power of acceptance (the fifth stage), we desire to find meaning in our darkness. It’s an opportunity to give kind, yet directive guidance to our fractured minds. Finding meaning guides us toward a place of healing.
Maybe perspective-taking is one of your talents. You can look at both sides of the coin and argue a situation from every angle. You were on your college’s debate team. How might you generate fresh perspectives, each one dedicated to extracting a possible meaning for your grief? For example, what would your relationship perspective say? What personal connection and/or community good came from your grief? What might your intellectual perspective say? What new learnings and insights did you take in during this time?
Leveraging our talents isn’t just about getting the job we want or getting better in our weekend golf game. It’s about digging deep, in our lowest moments and lifting ourselves up in mind, body and spirit. Our talents give us this power.
Megan Leasher is an award-winning industrial and organizational psychologist who balances her nerdiness with wit, charm, and creative swear words. She is passionate about connecting challenge and compassion, insights and intuition, and faith and fearlessness into the design of talent-based solutions for individuals and organizations.
Currently, Megan serves as the Chief Solutions Strategist for Talent Plus, a global HR-solutions firm whose mission is to leverage science to help people and organizations discover and develop talent, creating a world where people do what they are good at and enjoy. She also serves as an executive coach, avid public speaker, and has held leadership roles in both corporate healthcare and Fortune 250 retail.
Megan lives in northern Kentucky, where she loves coffee, Converse Chuck Taylors, and being a bourbon snob.