Being Resilient While Being Out of Touch

Being resilient in a new reality

We are all waking up to a new reality and are asked to be resilient. We’re being isolated. Space is not only the “final frontier”, it has also become precious, a shield that protects us from the new coronavirus – COVID-19. We’re told not to touch anything – not any surface, not each other, and not even our face! We must remain out of touch.

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This isn’t easy to do. It gets even harder when, after inadvertently touching a foreign surface (a door handle, a handrail, a tabletop), we need to wash our hands. And, to add a bit of emphasis, do it with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. It’s advised to sing a happy tune while you do. Sing “Happy Birthday” or the alphabet song, or something to ensure you keep up the soaping regimen for the full 20 seconds. Don’t cheat!

Being resilient means adapting

Humans, we tell ourselves, are adaptable animals. This is a new reality and adapting is hard to do when we don’t really know what to expect next. How long will this continue? What normalcy can we cling to, what do we need to discard, and what new habits must we form? A little bit of frenzied panic sets in.

That’s just the beginning. What happens if you’re, you know, “one of those?” Those who get infected – a carrier? Worse, one of those hospitalized? Or what if you are close to someone who is or might be? The stress escalates.

Resilient leadership emerges

Leadership in times like these is critical. Perfection may be beyond our reach because we’ve already passed that point wherein it was possible. We must make do with this new reality, being as resilient as we can while we refrain from touching anyone or anything or any face. There will be more and greater turbulent times ahead.

Punit Renjen, writing for Deloitte Insights, notes fives qualities for resilient leadership and Responding to COVID-19. In the first, “design from the heart and the head,” he says:

In crisis, the hardest things can be the softest things. Resilient leaders are genuinely, sincerely empathetic, walking compassionately in the shoes of employees, customers, and their broader ecosystems. Yet resilient leaders must simultaneously take a hard, rational line to protect financial performance from the invariable softness that accompanies such disruptions.

Renjen goes on to point out that a typical crisis plays out over three time frames: respond, recover, and thrive. We are in the first phase as we respond. Many are staying home and are on high alert to attend to each other, noticing what really matters in our lives, reprioritizing our list of needs and wants.

Resiliency is needed to recover

We will recover. It will take time, perseverance, creativity – our resilience. New leadership will emerge – it already has. While Washington stumbles local leaders are responding, making decisions, and taking responsibility. Somebody must.

We will thrive. To do so means we must be willing and able to let go of an old normalcy and embrace a new set of circumstances. How we live, where we live, and the reasons we do may change.

Perhaps this bit of staying at home will give us a new perspective, a chance for fresh introspection. The relationships we have will emerge as more precious and more worthy of our individual attention and investment in their maintenance. Perhaps, old boundaries will erode away so separations caused by politics and religion and silly pride will draw us closer to each other. Maybe, if we try.

Closing the gaps intentionally

Here’s one perspective: As we’re asked to stay beyond an arm’s length of each other, not touching, our focus on each other can intensify. We can take time to call or text or or FaceTime or Skype or Zoom, or email – whatever. We can reach out via technology to still touch each other with our voices, our thoughts, our good wishes. We can recover and thrive if we bridge the new gaps in our lives intentionally, letting others know we care about them, to let them know they matter to us.

This is a good time to step over some of the rancorous political boundaries that have divided us and bridge the gaps in our lives. Instead, it’s a good time to focus on community, our neighborhood, our friends, and relatives. Perhaps COVID-19 is giving us humans an opportunity to stop the frenzy and heal a bit.

It’s time to be resilient!

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By Jerry Spriggs and the Equal Voice Voting Team

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