Patterns, Prompts & Practices

Encountering the unexpected,
reveals and reinforces our path as leaders. Here’s six Patterns, Prompts & Practices to help you right now.

What a challenging couple of weeks we’ve all experienced as the COVID-19 pandemic creates the need for daily assessing, decision-making, adjusting.

Now more than ever,
its important to know that your true value comes
when you show up fully, authentically, and
with the intention to have the impact on others
you are meant to achieve.

In my 1:1 conversations with leaders at the helm of their businesses, nonprofits, communities and families, and certainly in the Mindful Leadership Group where we have a cohort of leaders supporting each other, I’ve seen how you’re making the tough decisions on what to do, when and how – and doing this from newly-established home offices.

I see the unique and compassionate ways you’re creating road maps for uncharted and shifting territory.

You’re making heart wrenching decisions on postponing events, paying musicians, being the voice of calm when you don’t feel calm, encouraging community support for freelancers and hourly workers, setting up staff to work remotely, welcoming college-age children back home for the duration, setting up your webcam and home office, and (hopefully!) sharing some of your toilet paper with someone else in the grocery store line.

And, I see the disruption, fear and anxiety you’re feeling.

It’s been a true blessing to speak with those of you who are in crossroad moments who have been reaching out and scheduling the free and confidential Strategy Calls with me. And, exhillerating to witness the shift into new possibilities!

It’s from this vantage point that I’ve noticed some PATTERNS that I believe create significant opportunity.  I share them with you – along with PROMPTS and six examples of a daily mindful PRACTICEs I teach my clients – all so that, SO THAT, our momentum can build and together we can help others. 

6 Patterns, Prompts & Practices to Help Right Now

  • PATTERN:  Compassionate Decision-Making is occurring.  When leaders put the safety and well-being of their team and those they serve first, the “right” decisions begin to reveal themselves.  Even when the financial and logistical repercussions are daunting.  We’ve all received emails from different leaders this week.  I’ve noticed the difference in tone, and have acknowledged all the leaders who are spending the time in thinking of my needs (and letting me know how I can help them) – vs. the email we received from a non-profit who angrily blamed the government, the virus, and didn’t let us know how we could help.
    • PROMPT:  Putting myself in the other person’s shoes… what do they need to know/understand? Why? What do they need to feel? Why?  What do they need to do? Why?  How can I help?
    • PRACTICE #1:  Shift from creating a “To Do” list, to setting a daily intention for BE-ing; ask yourself the three PROMPTS above prior to every interaction or initiative.  
  • PATTERN: Crisis is helping leaders breakthrough their own “Resistance”.  Confusion, hesitation, avoidance – can either be an indication of good instinct, or it can be a form of resistance to stepping up and into our full selves. If you believe it’s the latter, here’s something that always motivates me:  When we resist making and communicating key decisions or doing things we’ve never done before, it often means we’re thinking more of ourselves than those we aim to serve (Yikes!).  Fear, “what if…” thought loops, and imposter syndrome can all sneak in and paralyze.  While normal, now is the time to breakthrough any resistance, be vulnerable, be courageous and lead from the heart – “on behalf” of those who need you.
    • PROMPT: What is stopping me from taking action/making a decision?  What might occur if I don’t make the decision or do the very thing I believe I can’t do? And what will occur if I do?  Do I believe that I have to be perfect or that someone else could do it much better? Is my value in being right, or is my value in how I help move us forward based upon what I know and with the intention of helping others? (ok, that’s a loaded question, and … relevant!).
    • PRACTICE #2: Be mindful. Start by noticing and observing the choices that you are making. Do you notice and hidden avoidance? Are your choices in allignment with what you really want (for yourself and more importantly for others)?
  • PATTERN:  Limiting beliefs are being shattered.  Identifying assumptions about what we (and our industries) believe is and is not possible is always a good practice.  Now more than ever, leaders are shifting from “this is not possible” to “How can we deliver on our mission/stay in business, in a different, creative, never-been-done-before way?!”  The more we focus on impact, the better able we will be to “reverse-engineer” the new and creative ways to deliver the impact that is needed.
    • PROMPT:  Make a list of what is no longer possible due to COVID-19. If you were able to do the things on that list, what would the impact be and to whom?  Take those answers, and ask yourself – what are the different ways we can achieve that same IMPACT, through new and different vehicles/mechanisms?     
    • PRACTICE #3:  Two of the most powerful words are “What if…” – unfortunately, usually expressed in the negative.  My mentor taught me how to embrace the impulse to say those words, and then CHOOSE to follow them with “What if… xyz IS possible?”  What would it mean and to whom?  Is that worth the trouble? If you find yourself smiling about that possibility, it’s much easier to then brainstorm the how.
  • PATTERN: Social Distancing doesn’t mean lack of connection. Those of us already using video conferencing understand the power for deep connection, productivity, reach, and ease in communication. My clients are re-thinking ways to connect and inspire through performances, training, staff meetings, convenings with “breakout room” capacity, and even virtual keynotes.
    • PROMPT:  What are creative ways in which technology can help me?  If I am feeling isolated, what are the ways I can create the connection with others I want? 
    • PRACTICE #4:  Just do it. 😉  Call, email, video conference with someone.  Most likely you’ll both benefit. Host a conversation online.  Convene. Today. 
  • PATTERN: Authentic Leadership is being revealed. [This is one of my favorite patterns, so far!] The way in which each of us instinctively and intuitively leads and communicates in these challenging times is often beautifully in alignment with our “true value” and “superpower.” I see it so clearly in the leaders I’ve been coaching these past two weeks.  Each person has their own unique way for bringing people together, solving problems, helping others.  Even when in similiar roles accross the country, no two leaders do it in the same way.  Observe and notice it!  Honor and celebrate it – in yourself and in others! I created The Career (Life!) Breakthrough Academy because over and over in Executive Job Search and coaching I saw how leaders don’t understand their uniqueness (and then are frustrated when they don’t get a job offer, or promotion, or aren’t valued, etc.).  , to help successful leaders connect with this often-missing information, and its key to understand – especially at crossroad moments – so that you can help those who need you.
    • PROMPT: How have I been approaching the crisis? How am I navigating the path forward? Which parts come easy to me?  Which parts have I loved, and felt joy in – and why? How has the way I’ve chosen to “show up” fully, positively impacted those around me? [make a long list!] How do I know?
    • PRACTICE #5:  Observe & notice what happens to others when you are showing up fully.  
  • PATTERN: Self Care is now a “thing.”  People need you…at your best. Whether that means healthy, well-rested, confident, connected, joyful, or something else – now more than ever it is your responsibility to make sure you are leading in a truly sustainable way. While it may be tempting to burn the candle at both ends right now with the urgency of crisis decision-making, it’s critical that you don’t burn out!  If you’ve ever found it difficult to take time off, or get to the gym, or the doctor, or believed that self-care was indulgent, or selfish, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that ensuring you create the things you need to show up fully – even if that is now remotely – is an essential leadership strategy as well as being a community service. 
    • PROMPT:  What are the unique and creative ways I can use to refuel, replenish and sustain myself?
    • PRACTICE #6: Armed with the knowledge of what you revealed in PRACTICE #5, at the end of the day make a list of what self-care actions will make it possible for you to continue to build your momentum… and then choose ONE thing to do the next day.

Planned or not, we all may be beginning our “Next Chapter” of leadership as these next weeks unfold. 

Please know you’re not alone. 

If you would like to join the movement of successful leaders curating a life of impact and meaning – now more than ever I’m here to support you – whether in shifting mindset or your approaches to leadership in times of change and transition, or as you make decisions about your career trajectory and next steps.  I invite you to follow me on social media, and check out my BLOG archives for tips and tools that have relevance right now. 

And, if you are thinking about coaching, I’m extending the “Spring Forward” Coaching Package through April, and our extraordinary cohort of leaders look forward to welcoming you into the conversation.

To your success!


Kathryn R Martin,
“Next Chapter” Coach
Creator of The Career (Life!) Breakthrough Academy

Leadership Transition Strategist & Professional Interim CEO

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