Discover New Meaning During This Time of Dis-Ease

We were flung from our comfort zones and thrust into strange and unfamiliar territories. No more evening get-togethers, dining at our favorite restaurant with friends, or even quick trips to the gym and blissing out in yoga class.

That’s all coldly labeled now as non-essential, “risky” behavior in many parts of our world.

In its place, a new way of life is demanded from us: social distancing, shelter in place, and lockdowns in cities.

Our Collective Consciousness is Grieving

We feel uncomfortable. Empty. Lost. Alone.

And we’re grieving. Yes, grieving. Our world has changed. Grief expert David Kessler, who co-wrote “On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss” with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, says our sense of normalcy is gone.

“…the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection. This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively.

We are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air.”

Kessler offers reassuring words. This too, shall pass. He’s learned from history that the steps we’re taking now, while uncomfortable, are what needs to be done. “This is a time to overprotect but not overreact,” he asserts.

And it’s a time to re-think – everything. Some employers are discovering that working from home may become integrated into their new norm; learning institutions are realizing that online learning can be efficiently done.

“One is never afraid of the unknown; one is afraid of the known coming to an end.”

~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

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­­­­Changing the Old “It’s Always Been Done This Way’ Mentality

Americans work about an hour longer each day than their European counterparts: a third of Americans work more than 45 hours a week; about 10 million work more than 60.

Mark Wilson, writing in Fast Company about the global crisis, cited those statistics and asked a profound question: “How do we watch and educate our children while also clocking in the current 47-hour workweek?’

He proposes we don’t.

He cites more revealing data about the non-stop, 24/7 economy. More than half of US employees are hourly – working 8% more hours than in 1978 – but making only 11.6% more – even though they’re 6 times as productive compared to the 1970s. It’s called “The Productivity-Pay Gap” – meaning employee compensation hasn’t grown alongside corporate profits.

During this crisis, he wonders how can we work 40+ hours a week and teach our children too? How can we be there for them during this crisis, calming their fears, listening to their worries, and get our work done, too? How can we address our own needs in such uncertain times?

His answer was simple. We can’t.

Wilson says we need to slow companies down, no more business as usual. “We need to ask less of ourselves as professionals and less of each other as coworkers. It’s time to phone it in, literally and figuratively, to both protect our world and nurture the next generation.”

Learning to Let Go of Status Quo & Let Change Happen

It’s human nature to resist change, to keep the same old ways. Yet to grow, to do things in a better way, means we must learn to embrace change.

And now, during these chaotic times, thinking outside the box is key to not only getting through these challenging times, but soaring above – and doing things in a better way.

Yes, this is a time where we must challenge the status quo, to re-define how we do things and to come into greater alignment with our own core values.

World events have forced just about every one of us to step outside of our comfort zones – and though disconcerting, we also know that’s when profoundly impactful, lasting change can happen.

How can you, as a leader, go forward and challenge the status quo? Stacey Engle offers 3 suggestions:

  1. Encourage and invite all. Inclusivity brings fresh inspiration.
  2. Ask questions. Why isn’t something working? Engaging with your employees can lead to more meaningful insight.
  3. Be prepared to assist change – keep an open mind. Don’t automatically say ‘no.’ Be radical. Stay curious.

Remember, no one has all the answers. This is a collective journey we’re on. A good leader learns to listen loudly – put ego out of the way – and let success blossom.

Find Meaning in the New “Normal”

Undoubtedly, our lives are different.

But slowly, some of us may begin to realize that we have time now for things we always said we never had time for before – in our ‘old’ lives. Time with our children. Walking the dog. Reading. Discovering new hobbies. Working around our homes.

We can use technology to connect with family and friends, so we can still feel a sense of connection, if only virtually. And we can learn to have more compassion.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”

-Plato 

Let’s always remember to be kind to ourselves, too. When we’re kind to ourselves, we’re kinder to others. And the world needs kindness and compassion, not only now, but always.

What if the “new” and uncertain that lies ahead has gifts we haven’t even begun to unwrap yet?

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