Anastasiya Lutsenko is an Associate in Fieldfisher’s Dispute Resolution team. She has been through the lifechanging journey of having to leave her home in Ukraine as a result of the war with Russia. The path ahead is one that presents many challenges and uncertainty. Challenges that she will have to overcome.
Now safely in Germany the future of her home in Ukraine remains uncertain. Anastasiya says this is not her first encounter with fear in unstable times, as she has recently battled stage three metastatic cancer. Despite the inevitable fear that came with receiving her diagnosis, she says that being part of an entrepreneurial and research environment has helped her develop a mindset to cope through the challenges she has faced.
Having recently triumphed through her battle with cancer, and now having to have moved to another country to escape the war, Anastasiya has been able to find a sense of stability during an unsettling and unstable time.
Finding stability within instability
When facing times of hardship, whether it is with our own health or through wartime, finding ways to cope is extremely difficult as the future looks uncertain, and this can lead to feelings of fear and hopelessness. In Anastasiya’s case, she says her association with the entrepreneurial and research environment, have helped her adopt a different attitude towards these various situations.
For example, when she first received her diagnosis, she was able to come to terms with it and adapt to the journey ahead fairly quickly. Anastasiya explains that “with cancer, it was more like… once it’s diagnosed properly, it’s just a matter of getting the treatment.” Being in her third stage of cancer was a battle but Anastasiya chose to view it as a task. By viewing it as a task, she says it made the process less stressful and she was able to manage through her treatment better.
Anastasiya’s attitude towards situations of uncertainty is that the only real stability we have is instability. Once we have come to terms with a situation of change then we are able to better act and react to this change. Anastasiya states that “What I felt, from my personal experience, is that it actually brings a lot more focus to what you do, because you understand the situation and are able to say, ‘what can I do?” By finding stability during big life changes there is a sense of resilience that allows us to focus on what needs to be done.
Adopting an attitude of restoring stability during times of instability is one which we as leaders should be aiming for. There is not a great deal of situations where we can assume that everything will remain stable. Whether it is a situation of extreme crisis or a minor change, there is no true stability in the world or workplace. Life will always present curveballs and challenges, and as leaders it is crucial that we try to help those around us to find a sense of stability within instability.
How relationships can help restore stability
Part of what can help people better cope with instability, is having good quality relationships and support. When Anastasiya was escaping the Ukraine, she explains that it was the most difficult situation she had ever found herself in. Having to leave her home, finding a road that was not destroyed by bombs, and finding a place of safety where she could simply breathe is a challenge that many hope to never experience in their lifetime.
Anastasiya explains that “What keeps you, what keeps anyone going is education, knowledge, experience, and networking. I think it’s crucial for any individual to have as much information as possible, including connections with other professionals in their area.”
By forming strong and stable connections with people, you can exchange information, experience, knowledge and receive support. You have a better chance of surviving in a new area and adapting to a new career, with the help of the networks you have created, compared to someone who is alone. She explain that this does not only apply in times of war, but in any time of crisis.
As leaders, we need to use our networks and connections to help each other grow and find stability in uncertain times. By helping another colleague, or a partner in another country find a sense of safety again, we can create stronger and longer lasting relationships with them. Creating these types of relationships can help provide mental and emotional stability.
Emotional stability in a world in crisis
Creating reliable networks is essential for any leadership environment as these connections offer up a source of emotional support and a road to stability. But what other aspects give us emotional stability when it seems like there is none?
One way to gain a sense of emotional stability is to continue to grow, have a goal to achieve, and have a group of individuals there to support you. As Anastasiya explains “You have to stand up, you have to grow, you have to talk to people and explain what you want to do. And always say yes to the opportunities.”
As leaders we need to be able to help those around us achieve their goals by supporting their endeavours. Offering them encouragement, guidance, and someone to talk to during a time of crisis can help them focus their attention on a new opportunity in their lives.
Being a leader during a time of crisis and instability is one of the greatest challenges a leader can face. We must ensure our own mental wellbeing, but also the wellbeing of our team and colleagues. By ensuring that they have a source of stability in their lives we can offer them a moment to breathe and gather themselves.