Both Sides of the Coin

This post is an archive of the Growth Through Disruption newsletter sent April 23, 2020. Click here to subscribe and join tens of thousands of leaders across the globe growing through disruption together.

Last week, I met virtually with a group of coaches preparing for our Disruption Advisors coaching certification, and as a matter of course, I asked everyone how they were doing. I tried to set a positive tone with my own sharing of physical well-being and hopeful state of mind. Most of the group indicated that they are managing, keeping their spirits up, hanging in there—what have you—expressing optimism despite the undoubtedly legitimate and, in some cases, weighty concerns that must be lurking at the back of their minds.

One person, however, said, essentially, I am doing terribly. I live alone. I feel isolated. I have projects I could work on, but I don’t have the motivation. My income has nosedived and along with everything else going on right now, it’s really bringing me down.

Last week, we wrote that it’s important not to dwell only on present terrors, but to focus also on things that are going well—in one’s personal life, in the communities around us, in businesses that are thriving even as many go to pieces, and so forth.

Before that we had written that we need to continue to think about, plan for and invest in the future. It’s still coming. While there is a lot of uncertainty and many things about the future that are unknown right now, the fog bank currently obscuring our view does not mean that the sky has fallen, or the sun will never shine again.

In the midst of all the positivity we’ve been writing about and the generally upbeat attitude of the coaching meeting I mentioned earlier, I loved that our disheartened colleague had the courage to be honest—his situation is common right now and not happy—and that ours is a trust-filled cohort who have each other’s backs and honored his feelings as legitimate.

Psychologists have said that for people to heal from trauma they need others to bear witness to their loss. There is trauma to spare right now and many who need to have their losses acknowledged and validated.

I realized that this is a normal part of our interactions right now, empathetic and supportive, but it really should be happening all the time, and maybe isn’t.

The best leaders are dealing with pressing practicalities and constant triage. They’re trying to get things moving forward without endangering those dependent on their good decision-making; they’re even starting to figure out how to resume our collective investments in the future. Governor Andrew Cuomo has been a rock of compassion in the COVID-19 quicksand of New York. Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, has been called out for her remarkable personal touch as she leads her island nation through this crisis. Even as they deal with testing, restrictions, economic loss, etc. they are also bearing witness to loss—from the loss of an available playground for the toddlers to run in to the loss of loved ones. They are giving comfort.

I realized that in my personal life I may not be doing this as well as I could. It is easy to just keep going, nose to the grindstone, don’t let up, because then I might find myself undone by obsession with the crisis we are facing and the fallout from it that is doing a whopping load of harm. This is a coping mechanism of my own.

There are two sides to the coin. We need to recognize and give place for success because that’s what keeps us investing in the future. But we must also save a niche in our souls, not just now but all the time, to honor loss.

This week’s podcast is a solo episode on battling entitlement. I hope you’ll tune in. Battling entitlement requires us to set aside our ego and see people as people, not as objects for our happiness. That’s part of why things are working right now—we are seeing people as people—their pain matters more than what they can do for us. Let’s not stop when the fog clears.

Thanks as always for being here.

My best,

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