A few weeks ago, CEO Tim Hussey of Hussey Seating in North Berwick, Maine wrote in his blog that he had decided to regard his cancer diagnosis as an opportunity. In fact, Tim went a step further and said that he now considers this chapter in his life as a friend rather than an adversary.
Does this outlook have implications for our organizational as well as personal lives?
Typically, we work feverishly to get by the latest crisis, thinking that we will “get to” the behaviors and activities that will strengthen our organizations once things get back to . . . normal. Pick one: I’ll [spend more time with my employees, listen more to them, share more information with them, involve them more in decision-making, affirm their value, invest more in their development, and also find support for my personal growth] when the “crisis” has passed.
However, “normal” in today’s organizations is highly dynamic. If we wait for the “crises” to pass before we learn, grow, and evolve, we could be waiting a very long time. I am not talking here about a Pollyannish universe that denies reality. Rather, the challenge—as Tim Hussey has pointed out—is how to embrace our reality.
In organizations—as in life—we know that people respond to the same set of circumstances in very different ways. This is the realm of organizational mindfulness. Professor and organizational consultant Christian Gärtner wrote a detailed paper on the mindfulness work of organizational theorist Karl Weick. As described by Gärtner, “Mindfulness increases vividness and resilience, i.e., it encompasses the ability to recover and preserve functioning despite the presence of adversity. This means that mindfulness enables an organization to reconfigure already available resources and to improvise by integrating new resources in order to cope with changed conditions.” (Gartner, Christian, Putting new wine in old bottles, Helmut Schmidt University, Hamburg, Germany, 2011.)
What type of leader do we want to be? What type of employees do we want to develop? Do we respond to crises by contracting our perspective or do we use these opportunities to uncover new possibilities?
As Tim Hussey wrote, “I do not wish cancer on any of my friends. But I am personally very grateful for the ‘head slap’ that this diagnosis has presented me with to explore different parts of my life and what matters most, and how I wish to live the rest of my days.”
It’s great advice for all of us.
Here is the link to Tim’s blog “Beating It:” http://wp.me/p4TLmt-18