A second month ending with shelter in place, and a third month beginning with my main source of connection happening via ZOOM. It is a very strange place to be and an unexpected place in which to find comfort and ease. I know, I know I didn’t see that coming either, and yet here they are – comfort and ease.
Certainly, there are many things that disrupt their visit, but overall, they have been constant companions for the last few weeks. And now as I head into May, I am grateful to have them along for the COVID ride. I have thought a lot about why they are here, and I believe it is because when things get so upside down, ease and comfort are the things I crave most and so I seek them out. I direct intention their way.
So many things have shifted . . . for the long run it seems, and there won’t be a lot of “going back to” the things I once wanted to go back to. Like concerts and movies and the ease of being anywhere in public. Sure I hope those experiences emerge again, but I don’t spend much energy on wondering about the things that won’t be the same . . . I focus most of my energy on what I want to be different, both large and small. I want all of us to emerge knowing that we can hold more darkness and light than we once believed and that we can come together and care for each other in ways that are hugely important and impactful and require – in most cases – so little of us. Checking on a neighbor, a quick text to a friend, a listening ear for a laid-off colleague . . . so many impacts we can have by just being present with one another.
I want us to not lose the multi-level perspective COVID is giving us. One of my clients shared that being home with his spouse and child was not a hard transition because the last time he and his wife were confined to a place was in the pediatric ICU where they almost lost their kid. Perspective is powerful.
Perspective has also come through witnessing others’ experiences . . . so many micro-managers have struggled to lead in this new environment. They haven’t built trust and clear expectations, which are essential for success on any level. These have always been essential ingredients to any high performing team, and without them – leaders are struggling even more in this new ZOOM world. They are learning how much their past approach actually stood in the way of their team and this new perspective is opening new possibilities for both the leader and the team.
Many of my clients who have always cared about their employees are now realizing just how employee-focused they truly are. The talent they will be able to keep once the economy is moving again will be a testament to that focus. The same can be said for personal relationships, as most of us care about a lot of people, but COVID has pushed us to really get real about how we focus our time and energy and on whom.
For me, COVID is teaching me resilience. I am a lifelong “push through the pain” kind of person, and with COVID there is no pushing through that has worked for me. Letting go of endurance and practicing resilience is the key for me now – learning how to embrace the hard space and hold it, and resist the urge to push through it or push it aside. Instead, I am mastering how to sit with it, regroup and come back to it. My normal anxiety barometer is fairly low . . . like zero on most days, but during this pandemic, I have noticed more spikes of fear and they have come more often.
To be sure, most of those spikes are from fear for my loved ones to be safe. They are also about my business, my future, my employees, and not knowing how we might get everyone through this “no end in sight” chapter of uncertainty. When those spikes happen, I have to sit with them. Rather than push through by working relentlessly or forcing certainty somewhere where it doesn’t belong and doesn’t serve me. It is exhausting. Building resilience is hard, and necessary for the integrated life I desire, and COVID has given me that perspective more clearly than ever.
For years now, I have had an integrated life in a very intentional way. I don’t have work days or personal days or whatever they are called now, I just have days that I get to choose for my life. My “work” is my passion, my reason for being in the world so it doesn’t often feel like “work,” it just feels like my life.
COVID has brought that into very clear light . . . while many folks are learning how to integrate their home and work lives, I have been on that path for a while now and it is a big part of why I have comfort and ease moving throughout my day of relationships with family, friends, clients, teams, neighbors . . . these folks are the fabric of my life, not a calendar, and they flow fluidly in and out of each other throughout each day.
And, isn’t that the case now in our ZOOM world? Many of us are on “work” video calls and then a dog, or a kid or a spouse pops onto the screen to say or bark “Hi” or moves through the background – full integration happening in real-time! Consider the connection that has created for all of us. We’re letting those people and pets – who are most important to us – bleed into our “work” life rather than fighting to keep them out. And now what? Do we push that all back out of our “work” life or do we begin to embrace it from a new perspective as our WHOLE integrated life?
Gosh, I hope we choose a WHOLE life approach. Because that is real, and yes it has its own challenges of course, but the benefits feel wide and deep. That deep connection from us all just being human together from our homes is emotional intelligence in action. The connection has created safety and trust in ways not imagined or attempted in former work lives, and now here we all are, at home living and trying to work rather than working to try to live. We are getting powerful human glimpses of one another that remind us of each other’s humanity first, rather than work/project/problem first. That feels fundamental and powerful to me, and I hope we hold onto that perspective with all of our might.
Comfort and ease are here because resilience has made space for them. It is this powerful perspective that I will hold onto, for me, with all of my might.