4 Choices to Help Us Get Through This Pandemic
Okay. We made it to 2021! Whew. That in itself is an accomplishment. And now we have a fresh year ahead 😊 Let’s begin with our reality.
We’re all still living amidst a worldwide pandemic that’s continuing to impact our lives- personal, business, and otherwise. The second wave here in North America is much worse than the first, but the light at the end of the tunnel is that we have a vaccine, and it’s being rolled out as we speak. So, we know that ‘this too will pass’. The challenge is finding the energy to keep going in the meantime.
The first wave hit without warning and although it was scary as hell, our adrenaline got us through. We battened down the hatches and did what was required. This round is different because we’re tired. The pandemic fatigue we’ve been reading about is real. We’re being told this is the home stretch, but nobody knows how long it will last. That’s the tough part. How do we keep our teams and ourselves motivated over the long-term?
The good news is we have ‘choices’. And in our opinion, that’s the magic elixir! There may be a lot of things that are out of our control, but we do have the power to choose what to focus on, how we react, and what we will leave behind. Choosing our behaviour is empowering and will give us the energy we need to get through the home stretch and out the other side.
1. Decide What’s Off the Table
One of the bloggers we follow was sharing her year-end lessons learned a few days ago and it really hit home because they summed up our experience perfectly. She said 2020 saw her ‘tolerance for uncertainty increase and her tolerance for BS decrease.’ Amen! We’ve been feeling this way for the past six months at least.
Uncertainty is hard and there’s nothing we can do about that, but we can control the amount of negativity we’ll tolerate. And this is the first key lesson- deciding what you’re not going to focus energy on. Stop spending time and giving air to the negativity and bad behaviour out there because there’s no end to it, and it will drain the energy and hope out of you and your people.
2. Stop Waiting and Act
Humans are wired to deal with crises, but ‘short-term’ crises. This pandemic is a different animal because it’s moved beyond the short-term and that’s part of the reason we’re struggling. During the first wave, we focused on what was most urgent, got it done, and set the rest aside for later. Well, now is ‘later’. We need to consciously choose to stop waiting.
Military studies have shown that waiting and the boredom that comes with it can be more stressful than combat itself. The antidote to this stress is to identify the challenges ahead, assess the risk as best you can, and then act. Doing anything is better than doing nothing. And you can always change course when you know more.
Something that a lot of us may not have considered yet is the bedlam that will likely happen when the pandemic ends, and companies everywhere are scrambling to win back business and clients. What can you do now to be prepared for when that time comes?
3. Connect with Your People
The mental health hallmarks of the pandemic (isolation, loneliness, depression, and anxiety) are things that we’re all experiencing to one degree or another. And they’re likely some of the things that are at the root of your team’s performance challenges these days. Taking these feelings seriously by talking, relating, and showing compassion is important and can make all the difference in the months to come.
Helping people understand that they are valued for who they are and what they bring to the team as people, as much or more than for their organizational or business productivity is key. That’s the basis of well-being.
What we need to be conscious of though of is not enabling the feeling of helplessness. We understand these are extraordinary circumstances, but we hired these people because we know what they’re capable of when the pressure’s on. It’s equally important we remind them of that and continue to encourage them to meet their goals by holding them accountable. A bit of a balancing act, but an important one.
4. Pay Attention to What you Say and How You Say It
As we mentioned earlier, making choices gives us a feeling of power, so be conscious of encouraging your teams as often as possible to choose how they will move ahead. Internal motivation is most effective, so aligning those choices to their values and goals is your best approach.
Humans don’t respond well to being pressured, especially when they’re already under stress. So, demanding language is not going to help the situation. Be transparent. Explain what’s behind your request and why it’s important. Then politely ask for their response, acknowledging that you understand and appreciate all they have on their plates these days. You’re relating to their situation, but still setting the expectation that you’re confident in their capabilities.
And make sure you’re specific with the information and action you’re requesting. Vague broad statements aren’t helpful. Asking someone to ‘pull together’ to meet a deadline may sound positive, but it isn’t useful. They need to know what ‘pulling together’ looks like so they can meet your expectation or challenge it.
The key to surviving hardship and crisis is resilience. When we’re resilient we believe the action we take now will influence the outcome of the situation. The best way to nurture resilience is to consciously summon the courage to make choices and have faith that if we weigh those decisions well, the outcome will be positive.
A time of crisis is not just a time of anxiety and worry. It gives a chance, an opportunity, to choose well or to choose badly.