Two years ago, I had a dream that remains vivid to-date. Ordinarily, I am not the kind that retains dream details, but this was a special dream not only because I remembered all the details, but the dream bothered me for quite a while until I figured out the meaning which I’m happy to share.
I dreamt that I was part of a very big group that was ready to sit for an exam. On everyone’s desk was a blank piece of paper and a pen. As soon as everyone got seated, the examiner came in. I got ready with my pen in hand to write down questions which I assumed the examiner would ask. I was baffled by what happened next for, as we waited for the instructions, the examiner started singing! Yes, you read it right, the examiner sang. This could not be any further from the normal setting of an exam. I was thrown off and got totally confused, and while I sat there wondering why the examiner was singing during an exam, the song ended. Then came the instruction “please write down the lyrics of the song you just heard”.
In my baffled mental state, I saw other students busy writing. I started sweating, panting and was on the verge of tears at the realization that I was about to fail the exam miserably. I woke from the dream trembling and shaken. Whew! I was relieved this was just a dream, but I quickly became troubled because I believed there was a special meaning to it.
Now, you might be wondering if this dream has anything to do with you as a leader, and in this mental note I wish to share some key lessons that can be applicable to everyday life, particularly, in these unfamiliar times of Covid-19 crisis:
Waiting for the familiar: Some of us, might be waiting for this COVID-19 crisis to end and for things to go back to the way they were. But what if this is the new normal? What if things never go back to the way they were? What should your current posture be? Going back to the dream, it is imperative that we should be “listening intently to the lyrics”. Do not be like me, remember I failed the exam because I waited for the familiar. This dream revealed to me that…
It’s all about PERSPECTIVE! Our perspective may not always represent the reality. My perspective was that exams are set in a specific way, the singing was crazy, not serious at all, and yet all along, that was the actual exam. I find that we tend to see things not as they are but as we are. That’s why two people can look at the same picture or experience a similar situation and interpret it differently. Where it gets dangerous is that we don’t just perceive things but our perception determines our action and yet our perception is not always the only reality! So …
Be adaptable! During a crisis, a leader needs to keep an open-mind, be agile and flexible – seeing things from various angles. These qualities will serve you well. Being able to adapt to a new situation and being open to new possibilities is a mark of effective leadership especially in a time of crisis. If we get tempted to only see the ugliness of the times we are living in, we might miss the beauty therein. Napoleon Hill asserted that “every adversity, every failure and every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit”.
I have the privilege of connecting with most of my clients during this COVID-19 crisis, and the one question I like to leave them with is “how is this crisis going to make you better as a leader?”. The responses have proved that it is all about “PERSPECTIVE”.
What challenges are you currently navigating? What perspective do you have? How are you adapting?