Leading Through Confusion
“Consistency is the key to success.”
While attributed to a variety of authors and speakers, this sentiment has been around for ages. When aiming for a goal most any size action, done over time, in a healthy rhythm leads to success. We know this applies to all branches of leadership – the results you see will depend on the things you do and say consistently. So how do you lead when consistency is in short order?
As we begin to emerge through the season of COVID-19 we are inundated with information. But perhaps the biggest struggle for leaders during this time is the inconsistency of that information. Regulations, concerns, public safety, procedures all appear across a wide spectrum; at times opposite ends both equally backed up by stats and facts. We are living during a very inconsistent and confusing time.
Ever played a game like Pin the Tail on the Donkey, or maybe took a swing at a piñata? Something where you are spun around in order to throw you off balance? When we get dizzy it is a result of our inability to determine our orientation, position or surroundings. When information is inconsistent, we have nothing to grab hold of, we have very little to orient ourselves alongside, inside we are spinning.
In Proverbs we read:
Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.
Through this pandemic, and as we are re-opening in the Austin area, information turns my head to the left and then quickly to the right, back and forth looking for some type of solid footing. I can have two meetings in the same day and receive entirely opposite information from people I love and trust. In general, I believe our city leaders and government health care officials are often just as baffled by this virus as we are, and they are attempting to provide the best advice possible given an ever shifting battlefield before them. I’m reminded of when the Apostle Paul says, “now I know in part.” One day we will see a more complete picture of this pandemic, and we will learn so much as we continue to journey through this together. But for now, we are challenged to “look straight ahead,” fixing our “gaze directly before” us.
When I have had to lead during seasons when consistency was lost amid a sea of confusion, I return to this Proverb. As a mother, when my sons were smaller and their confusion or struggles led to panic I would bend down and take their tiny faces in my hands, directing their attention to my eyes and whatever reminder I was about to offer. “I’m here. Breathe. We are okay.” They would squirm. “No, look at me.” Eventually we would be breathing together in rhythm, then ready to take next steps.
As we re-open, people are dizzy, they are going to be confused. And often times, the anxiety or grief that accompanies transition will be difficult to recognize and name. As leaders, we keep our minds firmly resting in the hands of the One we trust. We steady ourselves alongside God through our own consistent time with Him. You cannot control conflicting information. You cannot control other’s responses. But you can remind those you lead, “Breathe. He’s here. We are okay. Look at Him.”