1. Lessons In Leadership

Be Kind to Be Cool

Remembering to be grateful for current stress.

Now that summer is ramping up, I am amused to hear people whining about the heat — the same people who grumbled about the brutal winter and the late spring. Some people, I think, are never satisfied.

And then… I look in the mirror and see myself muttering about the impossible number of events we are producing this month. Even though I am ecstatic to see the industry once again reaching its peak season. Even though we are about to close the books on a fiscal year that is much brighter than the previous two. Even though I swore — after the challenging and often discouraging work sustained during the isolation of the pandemic — I’d never again complain about being super busy connecting with people and creating the kind of big events we love. It’s a reminder that we are all human and that, sometimes, wish fulfillment can be overwhelming.

I’ve talked to many people from different business sectors who are in the same position. We are all grateful to be running at full throttle. But everywhere we look, we see the wear and tear this accelerated pace is having on our colleagues, our clients, and our business partners. Our collective resilience is on the line.

What can we do about it? Two simple words come to mind. Kindness. Grace.

It’s interesting to note that the root of the word “kind” relates to “kin”— as if it’s a reminder to treat people like family. And the word “grace” shares its etymology with the word “gratitude.” Cutting people some slack when they need it is another way to affirm that we trust and appreciate them. Offering grace brings healing. It makes sense, and research confirms, that operating with a spirit of gratitude is actually good for our own mental and physical well-being, too. So, by offering simple acts of kindness, extended in the spirit of grace, we give those around us a safe place to replenish their resiliency, and we reap the benefits as well.

How do we offer kindness and grace in a busy work environment? Even when we are swamped, we need to urge each other to take some well-earned PTO. We need to have the kindness to cover for people when they take vacation and not send them on a guilt trip instead. And this must be reciprocal. We need to exercise grace when people extend kindness to us by giving us the space we need to rebuild resilience. The admonition to do unto others as we would have them do unto us presupposes that we would like a little kindness ourselves. Even if it it’s something as simple as letting a colleague cover for us so we can make it to our kid’s ballgame. Seize the opportunity. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t work as part of a team, and that team can only function at its highest level when each member is healthy.

We also need to extend grace to those who are carrying an excessive share of the load. Help carry it if we can. And if we can’t, gift them with our own patience when it looks like theirs has reached its limit. We need to remind ourselves to be part of the solution instead of exacerbating the problems we are all working to solve. Act with kindness. Create a space for grace.

In this spirit, let me be among the first to thank you — the colleagues who are returning to the office, our union team members, our loyal community of suppliers, venue partners, and all those working on the show floor and behind the scenes — for looking out for each other. And thanks, too, to my extended community of clients, Uber drivers, waitstaff, airline personnel, and every other human being whose forbearance has brought me this far with my wits mostly intact. I am grateful for each act of kindness and grace.

The forecast is for a hot summer. As both temperatures and workloads escalate, we will all need to find moments to escape the firestorm of work we are blessed with. But beating the heat this season may mean finding and granting each other respite. Enjoy the summer. Be kind. Stay cool.

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