Monday, May 21, 2012

Keep calm and carry on: a drought of such messaging since 1939

When I was doing my Ph.D. research on how people successfully change their lifestyles for the better, I was struck by one key factor: the power of external messaging to influence eventually their decisions to change. At one level the information about the dire effects of smoking, poor eating habits, lack of exercise, etc. was simply intellectual - received as reasonable but not taken at an emotional level. However, in the long run, the outside-in reminders did help, setting a real reason context for change. Each person’s life journey provided an inside-out trigger for a committed change. Mission accomplished with the help of outside “coaching”.

Since coping with change is such a huge part of our fast-paced, volatile lives these days, we can always benefit from uplifting and simple leadership encouragement politically and within our own organizations. On a national level in Canada, I am still looking for something to bring us together, make us excited about who we are and where we are heading.

In the moment, I get more inspired by the Canadian-owned horse, “I’ll Have Another” who won the 137th Preakness Stakes on May 19 and prior to that the Kentucky Derby than anything I am hearing from our federal government. It shows how much we benefit from domestic heroes of any kind! All nations needs reason to celebrate and to stick with it. Certainly the sports world delivers at the least on a temporary basis.

But we value and find solace and inspiration in more substantive messaging in order for each of us to stay focused and hang in for the long run. That’s why I have taken to writing down every day, “Keep Calm and Carry On” a poster produced by the British Government in 1939 during the beginning of the Second World War. Winston Churchill added more to rally British citizens as the going got tough. We know his “coaching” helped win the day.

“Keep Calm and Carry On” and other outside-in “coaching” help us manage our emotions. The inspiration ignites our mindfulness, being in the moment to see our emotions but not be them.  Maybe one day I will find a “made in Canada” message that I can add to my daily reminder on how to be in the world to face another day.