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Learning to change the things we can, and not feeling responsible for the things we can’t.






We’ve been told these are unprecedented times.

As HR professionals you have already been battered by the first wave of the Covid-19 onslaught on your teams. Many of you will have to have laid off employees, struggled with the difficulties of managing Board level decisions , whilst maintaining your humanity

as you carry these decisions out.

I wanted to talk a little about what this may be doing to you.

Are you feeling too responsible ? Is there survivor guilt whilst still being worried about your own position ?

It is really important for your own mental health that you right size your position in these crazy times, that we get a handle on what is ours to worry about, and know what is within our grasp.

Recovering alcoholics use the beginning of a prayer they nicked from a theologian called Reinhold Niebuhr - it goes something like this :

“(God) Grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Fo them it is a reminder that they cant change where they are, that they can change that they don’t drink today, and that the wisdom to know the difference comes from intuition, or the advice of other people.

So how does this apply to your roles ?

You are not responsible for the effect of Covid-19 on your people.


It is fine to ‘feel’ for them, after all they are your friends and colleagues, but it is a very different thing to feel responsible. You are not, and could not be responsible for a global pandemic, and carrying on feeling as if you are is harmful to you and the rest of the people you are supporting. Being able to right size your place within this is really important.

Protect yourself from any negative feelings associated with lay offs, and the financial struggles that others maybe facing by reaffirming that you can’t change this outbreak, or the havoc it is wreaking.

So what can you change ? Well I’m sure you already are changing the things you can - but remember you can’t change everything….

This final line of the serenity prayer is really important as it asks us to take a break - and look at what the difference between these two things are.


Can change, can’t change.


If you can’t change it ? Move on - if you can try and do that, but be careful of walking up emotional blind alleys. If you find yourself taking on the worries of the world ? Check yourself and focus back on the things within your remit.

I am in no way saying that you should not ‘feel’ for the people who are suffering within your business, that would be heartless. What I am saying is it is not right that you should get stuck in that, That’s not good for you and others around you. When you get home, or leave the computer for the day you need to leave work behind.

If you’re working from home do make the day end mean something. When you’ve finished take ten minutes on your own in the garden, or a private room, and shake the day off. Use these few simple words to remind you of your place within the day, and clear off the concerns of work until tomorrow.

#yougotthis #covid-19 #CIPD #HR #serenityprayer #change #stress #anxiety


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