The other day I was coming back to London from a meeting in Birmingham. I was working on my laptop while listening to Orange Blossom, a French band whose music is influenced by traditional music of Algeria, Brittany, Mexico, Cote d’Ivoire, and Egypt. It is evocative and soulful, and as I pelted through the British countryside overlooking sheep and green fields, I felt deep nostalgia for ten years ago when, despite the Iraq war and Afghanistan, Britain seemed to be a United Kingdom.
The gap, however, between the Haves and the Have Nots has become chasmic, and the middle Britain dream of a job and being able to provide for the family has been out of reach for too many for too long. In an attempt to alleviate misfortune, it is easiest to blame others. Immigrants or the EU at large make easy targets for blame. After all, it is easier to irrationally hope for change in others than it is to pursue change within ourselves.
And then enter the referendum where the individual had a voice. 52% chose the blame game, 48% are left wondering what next.
“We blame others because we feel they have power and we don’t. And yet, we fail to act, keeping ourselves in a position of helplessness, that further justifies our blaming… If we focus on blame, we are doomed to see ourselves as helpless victims.”
Ouch! That hurt. Nobody likes being a victim, and the message that we may be choosing to be one hurts even more. So how do we break away from feeling we are powerless victims and create opportunity, even in the wake of Brexit?
Firstly, we need to be active, responsible participants in our own life. Actively seek out ways of changing the balance in your daily life. We need to focus on being citizens of the world. Rather than blame others, forgive them. Then do more. Reach out to people you haven’t spoken to in some time. Make introduction between people you think would benefit from meeting each other. If you don’t already volunteer in some capacity, find a local food bank, homeless shelter, or other charity that needs help. Make a point of being polite to strangers rather than barging through your commute. And if you work in an open-plan office aim to be a good citizen by avoiding disruptive behaviour such as loud phone calls, making a mess, or interrupting others’ concentration. By being present and responsive, we show our interest in staying connected and engaged with others as responsible citizens of the world.
Secondly, learn more about your own resilience and leverage your strengths to find new ways to get through difficulties. While many people will not yet have felt the impact of Brexit, companies are already responding with announcing job moves to Europe, and Britain is struggling economically, which could lead to more redundancies, reorganisations, and job changes. Prepare yourself now by focusing on your resilience and strengths. A&DC has a resilience questionnaire that defines 8 components of resilience: Self Belief, Optimism, Purposeful Direction, Adaptability, Ingenuity, Challenge Orientation, Emotion Regulation, and Support Seeking. Consider the ways in which you are most resilient and leverage those. If there are gaps in your resilience, learn about them so you won’t get broadsided.
At Talent Futures, we use the Resilience questionnaire and have also been using Strengthscope with our clients to great effect. We help individuals and teams re-energise themselves through their work by leveraging their strengths, channelling their use, and avoiding their overuse. Knowing your strengths can help you focus your talents amidst change to ensure you continue to find intrinsically rewarding work.
Thirdly, re-evaluate your goals, adapt them as necessary, and accept that risk is part of life. The one sure way to fall victim to any set of circumstances we may be in is to do nothing. So think flexibly, stay true to your values, and decide how you will take your career forward. Understanding your own propensity to take risk and the types of risk you are comfortable with is also fundamental to continuing to adjust to changing circumstances. At Talent Futures we have been developing a new approach to helping individuals and teams balance the contradictory mindsets of risk management and innovation.
Certainly the months and years ahead post-Brexit are fraught with uncertainty. The best defence is to know yourself and your goals and forge your path accordingly. The coaches at Talent Futures have lived and worked in more than 40 countries. We have seen many, many changes. We remain in spirit and philosophy, as citizens of the world.