By Barb Ward

Our world is rapidly changing, some of us are more adaptable and accepting of these changes than others, but it can leave us all struggling to keep up. It reminds me of the cartoon where the duck is calmly swimming along on the surface, but underneath the water its little legs are paddling like crazy to keep up. 

It can be especially difficult for leaders who are trying to manage all of this change for themselves and then also be there to help their teams. In our work, we’ve found time and time again leaders who are feeling the fatigue and burnout of a work environment and a world that just won’t slow down for one minute. Even though it’s what they need desperately, they don’t feel they have time to invest in themselves.

And yes, while the crisis of the pandemic has receded, the aftereffects continue. It can feel somewhat like post traumatic stress as we attempt to find our way forward. What does that even mean? How do we continue to take care of ourselves and help our teams maneuver in their new work environments? How do we feel hopeful for our future and project that for others to see when we are just plain tired?

We’ve talked about it in a past blog, and it remains true, “You Can’t Pour from an Empty Cup.” If our reserves are depleted, we must first fill them up before we can help others. Think of it like the safety instructions on an airplane, “if the oxygen mask deploys, first place the mask over your own face, and then turn to help others.”

It’s important to know that we do not need to struggle on our own. Businesses that specialize in organizational effectiveness have program tools and activities that can help leaders and organizations work through any business challenges they face; including the pandemic. In fact, this is what we specialize in at Innovative Connections. Our signature programs are geared toward helping leaders establish and maintain strong relationships and develop strategies to achieve results in a new way. 

Our consultants begin by engaging leaders in deep, meaningful conversations and creating connections with others that may have been lost during the pandemic. We can learn so much from each other if we listen and we find out that we are not alone. We can grow, develop new perspectives, and understand at a deeper level.

Additionally, returning to the basics and focusing inwardly on self-awareness, presence, listening, trust, building and managing goals and accountability helps leaders transform their own engagement and performance, so they, in turn, can help their teams do the same. In the wake of the pandemic, where in many cases the traditional workplace has shifted from business-based to home-based offices, this can be especially important.

But first, we must begin to fill our empty cup, and that starts with us dedicating time to ourselves. Pick two of the activities below and try them to help relax your body and center your mind.

  • Practice prayer, and/or meditation. It can be whatever you want it to be. Form the habit of silently witnessing your thoughts.
  • Walk outside, observe the nature around you, allow your mind to take a quiet timeout.
  • When washing your hands, bring attention to your breath. Deep breaths will help calm and quiet your mind.
  • As you start your day, find a few minutes, perhaps after your shower, sit in a relaxed posture, close your eyes and just breathe. 
  • Find a window with a view, sit or stand gazing out and silently bring forward your thoughts of gratitude.
  • Choose a picture and coloring tools, relax as you use your creativity to color your artwork.
  • As you sit in a meeting, bring attention to the energy in your body. Conduct a body scan.
  • As you bathe, notice the sensation and sound of the water.
  • As you eat, notice the texture and flavors in each bite.
  • Walk a labyrinth or path that requires little thought. 
  • Recite positive affirmations.
  • Practice guided meditations.
  • Engage in yoga or other mindful exercise techniques.
  • Connect with nature: watch the leaves rustle, the river flow or the birds fly overhead.

Now, read this passage and try the activity. If you truly submerge yourself in it, your mind will calm and allow you to view life through a different lens. 



Rest in Music and Life. Pico Iyer once said, “It’s the rest in a piece of music that gives it resonance and shape.” 

The importance of the musical rest is overlooked by many. For some, it is merely the separation of notes. But to musicians, it is the entirety of the piece. Without the rest, you cannot make music.

In order to captivate the composer’s intentions behind a piece, one must emphasize the rests, not the notes. Take composer John Mackey, for example. In his pieces, he creates layer upon layer of musical sound, making sure to carefully place certain voices in the music to create his one-of-a-kind sound. In his piece, “Lightning Field,” Mackey uses the art of rest to convey emotion to his audience.

Take a moment to listen to this composition. Do a quick YouTube search and find a version you prefer. Close your eyes and take in every sound. While you blatantly notice the slew of notes surrounding the stage, keep in mind the delicately placed rests. By Katie Cure



Our world promises nothing more than continual, rapid change. We know that change is hard. We have helped countless organizations through very difficult times. We would love to be part of your journey as you navigate through the feelings of PTSD the pandemic has left behind. Our mission is to give voice and action to an emerging future. As a partner in your success, we would come alongside you to help you find your voice, see your vision, and imagine what the right action could be for you, your team, and your organization. Please contact us for a complimentary consult at or call us at 970-279-3330.