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  • Writer's pictureShandy Welch

How to Create Meaning for Yourself and Others

Updated: Nov 1, 2022



My wonderful colleague, Karl, just introduced me to the acronym V.O..C.A. to summarize the challenges and culture that leaders are currently facing: Volatile, Uncertain, Chaotic, and Ambiguous, this seems to sum it up well. The platform of focus and conversation has shifted in the past few years and it falls upon leadership to adapt, flex, and develop new skills to accommodate and support these challenges.


I encourage you to see this landscape as an opportunity to learn more about your team, facilitate deeper conversations, and adjust your approach to capture insights.


I recently read the book Man’s Search For Meaning, by Viktor Frankl. Frankl was a psychiatrist and prisoner of war in the Nazi concentration camps and thankfully survived to reflect on his experience. He coined the approach logotherapy which focuses on how and why people can endure hardships. His belief is that it is the inner drive for “meaning” that allows people to thrive rather than just survive.


While the last few years in no way compares to his experience, the tenants are similar. He notes that in a time of crisis people go through three stages, Shock, Hope, and Despair. When one falls into a state of apathy, they feel only despair, become callous to sadness, and focus only on survival. No longer do they seek out love, innovation, and connection. I am sure you have seen this with your team or perhaps yourself.


I have noticed some people have pulled inward over the past years, overwhelmed by the lack of clarity, the fear of sickness, and the unknown end. There is less clarity about the future and plans are made in the short term. If we can draw from Frankl’s experience and wisdom, it is supporting the search for meaning which will bring resilience to our colleagues.


While “meaning” is personal, you can create an opportunity for positivity. To shift conversations to the future, towards hope and clarity. At times of suffering it may only take the infusion of positive thinking to shift the energy and create momentum.


How do you start your meetings, are you recapping the negativity, all of the changes, all of the added work and shuffling? Or, might you begin with the insights your team has gained, accomplishments from creative thought, and the hurdles you have triumphed? As a leader, it is your energy and enthusiasm which will carry the tone. You hold the keys to inspiration and hope.


At times of uncertainty is tempting as a leader to control more. To assume that your boundaries will decrease confusion and chaos but studies have shown that t

his approach may create more anxiety. Shifting focus towards granting autonomy, creativity, and independence will create more engagement and loyalty within your team.


My Challenge to You:

  • Are you leading with clarity but allowing for hope and innovation?

  • What question could you ask your team to connect with their vision to create a more positive and inspiring culture?

  • Are you marking accomplishments and victories with a celebration? Small acts of recognition will encourage more of the same.

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