Engage and Decide
After a turbulent fortnight, we are confronted with major life adjustments. Nearly one third of the world is in lock-down. Businesses are closed, streets are empty, skies are clear and most of us are hunkered down in our homes. Life as we know it has stopped. Dismal health and economic consequences loom. Read Part 1 here.
Elisabeth Kubler Ross named the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Denial, or a state of numb shock, is dangerous in a crisis. Moving rapidly to acceptance will prepare you for bounce. We have watched world leaders accelerate through these phases – some more skilfully than others.
Regular daily challenges have dropped away – traffic, e-mail loads, travel, meetings. Some love the novelty of abundant time with family at home. In New Zealand, more people are outdoors and active. We have the gift of time, reflection and planning.
On the dark side there is health concern – particularly for older loved ones. Millions of jobs are at risk. Small and large businesses will fail. Social networks are disrupted. It is easy to find yourself streaming videos while you refresh your news or infection-rate site.
The goal is rapid bounce.
Before you can bounce, you must engage with clarity and be decisive.
Calm, Control and Connect
Denial, panic, anger, bargaining and depression are your enemies right now. It is essential to establish a regular daily practice of escaping freeze (denial and depression) flight (fear and panic), and fight (anger) reactions. Instructions here.
Name and tame emotional energy
When we confront acute disruption, emotional energy is high. Even when calm you will notice the physical impact of emotion. Each of us is different. Identify accurately and counter skilfully.
The sadness cluster is related to freeze reactions. Instead of engaging we withdraw. Energy is low and you are probably feeling isolated. Seek energy, activity, people and find some joy.
The fear cluster (flight) ranges from niggling worry, to anxiety, panic and hyperventilation. You’re energised, distracted, and procrastinating. Breathe slowly, focus on one task at a time, and pay attention to the here and now.
The anger cluster (fight) is dangerous and ranges from irritability, to frustration, angry outbursts, rage and violence. Anger compromises your immune system, decision making and other humans you care about. Focus your attention on others and how they may be experiencing the situation. Be generous, grateful and kind. Apologise immediately and sincerely when you blow.
Make calls on what you expect and develop your plan. No-one knows exactly how this will unfold. Read widely from different perspectives. Develop three scenarios – best, likely and worst case. Hope for the best but plan for the worst. Engage your colleagues and family in this dialogue. Make sure you consider five essential ingredients:
- Health: covid-19 and other conditions/emergencies as services are compromised
- Economic: much of the consumption economy has stopped; job and business loss will follow
- Social: some will respect, bond and pull through, others resort to violence and crime
- Family resilience: physical, emotional and mental wellbeing, cash flow and love
- Supplies: supply chains are already stretched, make sure you have basic resources secured
Every situation is different so we each have to work through what decisions to make and how to evaluate them. For example, if your business cannot operate, do you close it and start again later. Or, fund it though the pandemic and consequent recession/depression. If you need help from the bank, do it now and secure resourcing. Do not wait for funding to dry up.
If you want to upskill or advance your education, now is the time to get started. Online education will flourish.
If you want to start a new business or career, take this time and put your plan into motion. Prepare to meet the needs that will arrive once this has settled. A significant transformation is in play. There will be wonderful opportunities for those who engage, decide and move fast.
In Part 111, we will address Bounce in detail.
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