We are making history. We are living in an unprecedented time. Hard things are happening every day. The old way of doing things has changed. We are being invited into the personal spaces of newscasters, bosses, co-workers, and friends as we shift toward a virtual world. We see people singing from balconies around the world and see health care workers dancing in celebration of another patient being released. While on a work call, the child of another person on the line had a meltdown. We took a minute for her to settle her son and then resumed. Work-life and home-life are not so separate right now.
Not a single person or family has been spared. We are collectively uncertain. At our best, we are finding the rhythm of this new reality and enjoying simpler things like family dinners, movie night, and togetherness. At our worst, we are turning to numbing patterns like over-drinking, over-eating, and over-bingeing Netflix. This is hard. Brené Brown says, “I don’t have to be scary when I’m scared.” Once we face our fears and feelings of uncertainty and name them, then we can begin to move forward.
Pivot, rebound, repurpose, reinvent: these are just some of the resilient-themed, progress-oriented terms I keep hearing from my clients and peers. As leaders, it’s crucial to make a plan, but let’s face it, nobody had a catastrophe plan in place for Covid-19, and that’s okay. Part of being a leader is embracing reality and making an action plan accordingly. In order to do that, you need a realistic understanding of how you process negative realities. It is never in anyone’s best interest to sweep things under the rug, minimize or, underestimate reality. I refer to this as putting lipstick on a pig, and underneath the make-up, the pig is still there. You want to be the kind of leader who stares reality in the face.
Leaders are responsible for acting on reality. If you are out of touch with reality or can’t embrace negative realities, you run the risk of making decisions that could be detrimental for your organization and clients. Leaders run into trouble if they REACT rather than make an intentional plan. Reactionary leadership leads to mistakes and missteps. In order to avoid reacting, you need to connect with your management team and/or peers and collect data. If you are chased by a tiger, then RUN, but if you are not, then give yourself some space and collaborate with your team, peers, and friends. Then the strategy will come. Remember, you just need to make the next right move. This doesn’t have to be all figured out today.
In her book, “All Along You Were Blooming”, Morgan Harper Nichols wrote, “Let go and grab hold of tomorrow’s possibility, and try again, try again.” As we look hopefully toward re-opening, we all have a ton of questions. Who opens first? How many people allowed in-store/restaurant? How do we get antibody tested, and is the test even reliable? How do I make the work environment safe for employees and customers? It is okay to not have all the answers. It is okay to sit in the uncertainty. What is not okay is blaming others and being unkind. Find a place where you can safely share your thoughts and feelings. Get support as you lean into integrating the negative realities.
This virus completely unwound our daily lives and economy. If something unwinds, you usually take great care when you coil it back up (think Christmas tree lights and princess phone cords). We have a choice about how we put our lives back together. We have a choice about how we live our lives in quarantine. We can hold space for both negative and positive realities. We will get through this.