Busyness and Connection: Reflections on lessons learnt this Easter
No matter how you normally spend your four-day weekend, it was likely this one was a bit different. What did you learn from the experience of being home over Easter 2020?
Easter 2020 was a bit of a different experience for me, and I suspect it may have been for you too.
For many of us, whether Easter holds religious significance or not, it’s usually a time when we do something. Go camping, go to church, see extended family or head for a night out with friends.
Personally, as a Sydney resident and horse enthusiast, this holiday is normally taken up by the Royal Easter show, where my daughter competes. The iconic Easter Show was cancelled this year, for the first time since the Spanish flu pandemic in 1919, which in itself is a big change for the residents of our city who attend the show in their hundreds of thousands every year.
Instead, with social distancing in full force, we spent the entire four-day weekend at home as a family.
A week on, I’ve had a chance to reflect on the meaning of this enforced togetherness what it meant to have our usual plans interrupted.
Here are a few things I learnt.
It’s easy to understand why, when we work hard and only have limited annual leave in which to experience what the world has to offer, we feel the need to put a four-day break to ‘good use’.
There’s nothing wrong with this, as such, but we do tend to forget what it’s like not to rush around. To slow down and relax.
Our society’s obsession with ‘busyness’ is one that has been reflected on by social commentators, and named as a contributor to our levels of stress and anxiety. If my daughter is anxious before competing, her horse will make her stop and take a breath. He literally shoves his huge head into her torso and demands a cuddle. Once she stops, breathes, laughs and, yes, gives him a cuddle, she can continue to prepare him and herself for the competition. It is so beautiful!
Being forced to stay home and slow down might actually remind us it’s good to do not much sometimes – just to stop, breath and enjoy the moment.
An effect of slowing down is also the chance to reconnect with those in our lives. I was heartened to hear a friend talking about how his family had enjoyed being together at Easter. His son is a highly accomplished soccer player and there are always games to travel to over Easter. This year, however, they were able to enjoy the break all together for the first time in years.
A huge part of my role as a leadership coach with horses is staying connected with my herd. Afterall, how could I do a good job when my effectiveness relies on reading the responses of my individual herd/team members, if I do not know my team. Now, horses know that humans are not horses, but just as with any team, I cannot ignore them at the moment because we are not hosting clients due to the pandemic and then expect their respect and focus when I need it again. That would be unfair and arrogant of me. So, I took the time over the Easter break to connect with my equine team members without any pressure. I made a conscious effort to just hang out with them, totally on their terms with no expectations, no agenda, just enjoy being together and bonding. I do not know when we will be allowed to welcome clients again, but I do know that I want my team – my equine family – feeling safe and happy in their roles when we can operate as usual again.
Isn’t this the same for our family members and our teams at work? A true connection creates trust and loyalty and a feeling of safety and being valued for family, friends and colleagues alike.
I hope that wherever you spent the break it helped you reconnect with others, whether that be a family meal, enjoying the company of your partner, chats with friends or watching a good movie!
Uncovering authenticity and self-truth
Since Easter, I’ve been thinking about the longer-term implications of what all these realisations mean. And I think it’s what I call making the invisible, visible.
Sometimes, I see this happen to people in our training courses. I call it their ‘personal aha moment’ – when a horse allows them to see whatever it is that’s been buried inside.
One person’s ‘aha moment’ particularly struck a chord with me during one of our emerging leaders programmes. A young manager, Jack, from a consumer goods company, had been having trouble leading his team as he kept trying to make them do things. Through working with our horse, Vinnie, he learnt a different way of leadership. Vinnie refused to be pushed around, literally planting his feet and there was no way, this young man could budge a 500kg team member. Jack needed to work with and listen to Vinnie and his other team members’ feedback to achieve the desired outcome as a team. That day he learnt about respect and empathy. During our debrief, he actually became tearful and said he’d realised that, “ love was more powerful than force.” A big breakthrough, don’t you think?
It might just be possible that this social distancing can push similar discoveries about ourselves to the surface.
I hope we can all come away from this experience with an appreciation for those occasional quiet moments in our life, as well as some authentic connection with others and ourselves!
Did you realise anything over the Easter long weekend? What lessons can we learn? Tell us in the comments. And to subscribe to more updates and leadership tips from Leading Edge Life Skills, please comment below to ask to be added or email firstname.lastname@example.org