March 22, 2020

How to Feel Empowered During This Unprecedented Time of Change

Virtual Cohort (using video conferencing)

Over the past several weeks we have experienced unparalleled change impacting the way we live, work, and play worldwide. As a result, many people may be feeling disempowered, anxiety, and unrest. Alicia Reece, one of our co-founders of DRIVEN Career Map captured four practical strategies to reclaim your power during this unprecedented time in her article below, “Discover Four Strategies to Feel Empowered During this Unprecedented Time of Change.” Please check it out. Wishing everyone tremendous health, safety, and peace..

Please let us know how we can support you during this time.

Alicia & Val

I was first introduced to disruptive innovation working as an HR leader at Cisco over a decade ago. Admittedly, when I first heard about disruptive innovation, I wasn’t really clear on the importance to our business…besides the word disruptive has a negative connotation. Once I learned more about this sought-after competency, I understood how impactful disruptive innovation could be to the creation of new business models, cutting edge technologies, and thought leadership. The heart of disruptive innovation is dramatically interrupting the status quo to drive innovation, which oftentimes results in tremendous change.

Over the past several weeks, I have been doing a lot of reflecting based on this unprecedented time in history. Disruptive innovation has come to my mind often. COVID-19 has dramatically disrupted the way we live, work, and play worldwide. In addition to some of the greatest minds in science coming together to use their collective brain trust to find innovative treatments for COVID-19, the adoption of technology tools such as Zoom, WebEx, and other on-line platforms has accelerated across multiple industries exponentially. My six-year old daughter who has seen me facilitate virtual meetings over the years is now for the first time engaging and learning in a virtual classroom with her teacher and classmates via a robust online learning platform. The world is changing right before our eyes. Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher said it best, “Change is the only constant in life.” Many of us are well seasoned and experienced in managing change in our careers and lives. However, what we are going through now is astronomical and is happening expeditiously. Figuratively speaking, it feels like we closed our eyes for a minute, and when we opened them back up, everything had changed around us. Feelings of disempowerment, anxiety, and unrest have manifested as a result. For that reason, during this unparalleled time of change, it’s critically important to consider cultivating and harnessing your emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is a set of emotional and social skills that allow you to understand how you “show up” while being perceptive of others in order to effectively manage relationships, decisions, change, and stress associated with your career and life. I feel strongly that emotional intelligence is the key to personal and professional transformation. Most challenges in your career and life tie back to emotional intelligence. That’s why I often partner with my clients to cultivate their emotional intelligence.

As you contend with this very difficult time in history, here are a few emotional intelligence skills that could anchor you and make you feel more empowered.

Stress Management

The number one emotional intelligence skill that is important to consider honing during this time is stress management. From the 24/7 news reports to managing your children’s new online school program while working from home can be incredibly stressful. During this time, it will be critically important for you to protect and manage your energy. One concept that I share with clients when they are experiencing stress and high burnout is to incorporate shots of espresso during their day-to-day lives. I am not talking about traditional coffee espresso shots. I am referring to the activities that boost your energy when you feel drained and bring you a sense of peacefulness and happiness. Shots of espresso examples include: exercising, yoga, meditation, being in nature, listening to music or your favorite podcast, dancing, reading, and anything else that revitalizes your energy. Consider setting a notification on your phone 3-4 times per day to activate your shots of espresso. Another area to consider when protecting and managing your energy is not allowing other people’s stress to become your own. I am not saying don’t be empathic. However, be in tune with yourself to know when you need to disconnect from all forms of media and people including your loved ones to protect your energy.


The second emotional intelligence skill that is important to harness during this time is optimism. Optimism involves remaining hopeful and resilient during setbacks. It’s seeing the glass half full versus half empty. Additionally, it’s seeing the light in the midst of darkness even if you have to use a small flashlight and there is only a speck of light. I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes by Sir Winston Churchill, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Optimism can be powerful fuel to ignite your resilience skills. Consider taking some time daily to focus on identifying positive aspects about your day even when it may be challenging. One exercise to consider is called 321. List three things that you are grateful for, two positive affirmations, and commit to one act of random kindness. The 321 exercise can be done individually or within a group as a one-time activity or over the course of multiple days. Positive feelings are sure to rise when activating the 321 exercise.


The third emotional intelligence skill that is important to consider is empathy. One of the incredible outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic is how people are coming together to support one another not as individual races but as one human race. There is a spirit of empathy and humanity that is permeating at high levels. At the heart of empathy is recognizing and understanding how other people feel and behaving in a way that respects their feelings. Take some time to check in with people in your network and avail yourself to supporting them even if it is just a simple text asking, “How are you doing”. External of your network, there are great non-profit organizations that are helping people get food and medical services that you may want to consider supporting. For parents who are working from home and juggling online school programs and their children’s behaviors… all while trying to be productive in their day jobs, be empathic with your children and even yourselves. This new norm even if it is just temporary is hard for everyone. We need to be gentle with ourselves and others especially our children.

Self- Actualization

The last emotional intelligence skill that I would like to explore with you is self-actualization. Abraham Maslow, a prominent psychologist in the 1940s, coined the phrase self-actualization as a part of his Hierarchy of Needs model. In Maslow’s model, after physiological and psychological needs are met, the realization of one’s potential, talents, and meaning are at the highest point of his hierarchy reflecting true self-actualization. One of the gifts that COVID-19 has given us is the gift of time. Consider how you are utilizing your time that benefits you now and long-term. Perhaps you have aspirations of moving to the next level in your career and want to start preparing now. One idea to get you started is to identify gaps in your core knowledge, skills, abilities, and experiences. You could engage in learning opportunities online to close the gaps. EdX has over 2,500 online courses from top institutions like Harvard University, UC Berkeley, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Whether it is preparing for your next leadership level, reading the book you’ve been wanting to read for the past several months, or spending quality time with your family, use your time wisely to pursue meaningful and purposeful initiatives and goals.

As we continue to adapt to the new reality of how we live, work, and play during this time, consider cultivating and harnessing your emotional intelligence by: protecting and managing your energy, exercising optimism through the 321 exercise, harnessing your empathy with your family, internal network, and the external community, and utilizing your time to reflect on what’s really important to your career and life while pursuing meaningful and purposeful goals.

What emotional intelligence skills will you consider utilizing to feel empowered during this time?

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