Show Me Your Stress and I Will Tell You Who You Are

Aurora Archer
4 min readJun 21, 2021

The social isolation of the last couple of months has given all of us ample time to reflect on various aspects of how we lead our lives, both personally and professionally. There is no question that for even the most optimistic among us, this has been a time of stress. The stress of adjusting to new routines, of canceled celebrations, of missing loved ones, of not knowing when it will end, and what comes after.

“Who we are in times of great stress is who we are.”

This phrase has continued to be top of mind for me as I have navigated COVID-19 as a business owner and CEO. As someone whose background is rooted firmly in the tech industry, the stress of disruption has felt if not quite comfortable to me, at least familiar. When you work for a company like Hewlett Packard as I did for 10years, change is the norm. Truth be told, embracing change is the norm.

Consumer technology marketing is a discipline where decisions follow data, and it’s perfectly conceivable to make pivots to your plans two, three or even four times a week. I can only imagine right now as much of America’s white collar workforce continues to work from home, how often companies like my alma mater are looking at every aspect of their marketing plans, logistics, distribution, and so on, to be sure they’re able to meet the demands of a sudden influx of new home offices. And of course, like the rest of us, they are seeing highly dynamic predictive models that say these demands may recede in three….six….nine months, and so the roadmap is likely being updated constantly.

When I lived in this reality, I learned quickly that leading in this type of unpredictable environment requires a specific set of qualities that I also believe make strong leaders even outside of times of crisis. At Bellatrix Group our team is versed in these skillsets and are able to use them to expertly guide our partner clients through whatever journey they are embarking on.

1. Calmness is the Stance

In some workplaces, frenetic energy is seen as evidence of progress, reaction seen as more important than reflection. In my experience one of the greatest gifts I have been able to give my teams was their feeling that there is a steady hand at the wheel. Of course, I have felt ups and downs and my cortisol level spike along with them. But through a practice of taking a deep breath, giving myself time to process, and not reacting in the moment, I’m able to come from a place of stillness and peace when I am ready to address whatever has come up. Over and over again I have seen our clients look to Bellatrix Group in a room during tense meetings, and visibly relax when we offer a reasoned and thoughtful answer instead of an off the cuff response.

2. Reframe the Big Picture

Most strong leaders can see the big picture — that’s part of what got them to their leadership position in the first place. But our world is no longer binary — the “big picture” is no longer so clearly defined, and the “goal” is an ever-changing idea.

Our ability to reframe the big picture holistically, from all angles and perspectives, to be inclusive and collaborative to enhance the eco-system knowing all have a contribution to make, is more important now than ever.

3. Lead with Humanity

When we are moving fast and guided by the data it is critical to balance our speed and action with accountability of our impact. Our impact on those seen and unseen, our impact on the longer and not just the short-term implication of our decisions, are all things we as leaders must consider.

The crisis of COVID 19 has made blatantly visible the impact of our decisions that have not considered the implication on all human lives, especially those most marginalized and most typically on the front lines. As business leaders in unprecedented times we face tough decisions to furlough our teams or reduce their pay, decisions to mitigate the business impact of COVID to our product lines and offerings, decisions that are difficult and critical.

As a leader in times of change, it behooves us to make those tough decisions AND not lose our accountability for humanity. There are real people impacted by every decision we make. Using and showing empathy, awareness and accountability makes everyone on our teams feel safe, seen, heard and respected.

I offer to all of you these thoughts and reflections as a leader who has had the great privilege to serve teams throughout “crisis as the norm” for most of my career. I believe deeply in leading through these principles, and feel privileged as a business owner to be able to model them directly with my team and our client partners.

Hoping that all stay safe, well, and grounded.

Stay connected



Aurora Archer

Passionate Type A. Believer in making this life count thru ideas + adding value + always learning + making a difference & change happen. Digital. Marketer.