How to be RARE in the time of Coronavirus

August 7, 2020 | Craig Doerksen

Waterloo Rare Leadership Square TITLE

I have always appreciated the cool head and heart in a hot room. You know the person: something happens that others react emotionally to in fear and alarm, and the cool, calm, collected person brings confidence, peace, and hope to those around him or her. I appreciate the coolness, because that kind of calm creates space for clear thinking, collaboration, and sound judgment. And boy do we need that!

The nature and scale of what we find ourselves living through today is arguably impossible to really wrap our minds around—the whole world ground to a halt by a virus less than a year old, our governments, social fabric, and health care systems seemingly ill-equipped to keep us safe enough to function.

To be that cool head and heart is a rare thing, but so important. How do we become like that? Earlier this week we held a virtual webinar on a little book called RARE Leadership has had on the formation of Waterloo School.

The premise is simple, but profound: we must cultivate four habits of heart and mind to be able to fully flourish in life, relationships, and leadership.

Connecting neurology, theology, and easy-to-practice actions, it makes the case and lays out a roadmap to cultivating those habits. RARE is the acronym for the four habits:

  1. Remain relational.
  2. Act like yourself.
  3. Return to joy.
  4. Endure hardship well.

The devil is in the details, but so is the hope: as we choose and act in ways that embody the above habits—they become habits!

How hard is it for you to brush your teeth the way you do?

How hard is it to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’?

How hard is it to check your social media? (Doh!)

Yes, habits get reinforced in our brains, and become more automatic. And we can make more automatic good, healthy, whole-brained, whole-hearted responses to all the life throws at us.

Right now it’s throwing a pandemic at us. Disrupted work, school, hobbies, and communities. It’s hard. But we can still live with purpose, joy, and in growing relationships. “The world is always open for learning”, we say, because it is also always open for living.

We work RARE principles and practices into all that we can at Waterloo. How we interact with one another. How we deal with conflict and challenges. How we decide how to do school in pandemic.

One of the principles in the book is that RARE habits transform management into leadership. It is really easy and tempting to simply try to manage our way through this pandemic—in our homes, our schools, our work. But that way leads to problems being treated as more important than people, and fear driving our choices more than joy, love, and identity in God. We all know how powerful fear is. But joy is more powerful—and brain science backs it up! Fear shuts down our brains—joy and relationships get the whole thing firing.

New habits are hard at first. But they get easier. And new good habits, that have us living fully, literally firing on all synapses, are totally worth it.

Access the RARE Leadership webinar & guide

Enter your information to watch the live webinar recording and download our quick RARE Leadership Guide, The Art and Science of Flourishing.

Change can be hard, but with a little practice and the right reminders, we can all flourish in 2020!

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Craig Doerksen

Craig Doerksen

Prior to becoming the director of Waterloo School, Craig provided leadership for a number of prominent institutions, including Regents School of Austin; the Bluetower Arts Foundation in Eugene, OR; and Trinity School in Raleigh, NC. Craig holds a master’s degree in English from the University of Ireland and graduated from the University of Oregon with a bachelor’s degree in English.