COVID-19: 10 New Behaviors, Thoughts, And Considerations To Take Away From A Pandemic

Leadership Lesson: Make sure to take away the lessons from adverse impacts and events — even pandemics — especially when it comes to redirecting your development and growth for the better, both for yourself and others.

COVID-19 is still here — and it is not letting up.

As of this post, this is where we stand. Just when we think we’ve become accustomed to a new way of life and that we understand the severity of the situation, the numbers of confirmed cases surge, tripling every few days.

Part of that new norm, aside from those afflicted and their families, is for us to stay home, maintaining limited outings and no contact with anyone outside of our immediate families and households. Guidelines from federal agencies and the president’s office have finally taken a stronger, more urgent tone, with a possible lock-down looming in the tri-state area.

Along with our way of life changing, our professional landscape has shifted. A record number of Americans has lost their jobs, having been laid off due to the limited/non-existent customer/client traffic resulting from the pandemic, are now overwhelming unemployment benefit systems. You can feel the stress throughout the country coming to a boil.

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For those of us who haven’t been laid off and aren’t considered essential, we’re working from home. Remote work, or tele-work, isn’t a new concept. To some, it’s been their daily grind for as long as they can remember. For the rest of us – the newbies to home office work — it’s given a whole new, uncharted meaning to “work-life balance” – literally, as we’re quarantined with spouses also tackling the new realities of home-work (or having lost their jobs) and kids schooling remotely.

And in being confined to the house — not just for work but also during after-hours — we’re paying more attention to developments in the outside world’s fight against the virus. It’s all over the news, both on TV and in publications. You can’t escape it – its name I mean. Nothing has ever changed our modern society in this manner, this quickly and this severely.

And in trying to keep up-to-date on developments, recently, as I made my way through my daily news aggregators, I came across this article, which covered how, overall, our perception of working from home (WFH) may change based on what comes out of the time we’re now relegated to our homes “sheltering in place.”

As someone new to remote working, I’ve found it to be an interesting experience and experiment – finding my rhythm, organizing myself, improving my own communication, and, hell, making sure not to completely let myself go (meaning I do put on pants for virtual meetings).

In any case, I’ve tried to make the most of it – meeting with clients and presenting webinars and workshops virtually, while also meeting up with online communities (this great one, in particular). Much of the conversation in those forums has shifted to thinking about how to approach our work and lives in our new reality, even if it’s only temporary.

This kind of experience – yes, a global pandemic – shifts your perspective on the world, doesn’t it?

Shouldn’t it?

“Never let a good crisis go to waste.” This quote is attributed to Winston Churchill – a historical leader who knew what it meant to come under the heaviest of geo-political fires and crises during his time as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

I read the quote as: If you’re being stopped dead in your tracks and pushed back up against the wall, with so much left out of your control, if you have time to breathe, don’t you have the ability – or even the responsibility to yourself — to rethink things, to relearn them, or to ditch them and learn new things?

Related: Track And Assess Your Developmental Stages, Or Lose Out On Who You Can Be

After reading the article I referenced above, I thought about the people I’ve worked with, met, and reached out to this week, and thought about how I could look at the world differently.

While doing so, I put together a list of realizations and lessons from this experience, which I shared to LinkedIn. They’re a wide-ranging mix of lessons in life, relationships, and leadership.  

Let me provide just a little more substance to each.

1. Vulnerability is OK.

This is the first global event we’re all experiencing simultaneously that, thanks to the internet and high-speed access, we can witness roll out in real-time. We know how serious it is as it’s spreading. We’re aware that tomorrow, in general – or, specifically, how it will look – is not guaranteed. We all don’t know and can’t predict what’s coming. Uncertainty is the name of the game. A lesson we can take away is that by admitting we’re not quite sure we know where we stand, we can work together to figure things out. Hopefully, that ability to open up continues at both the organizational and individual level. No one needs to have all the answers or be fully in control. Just show you’re trying.

2. The number, structure, and low value/ROI of (most) meetings is absolutely f’ing absurd.

It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of most meetings. It’s not that I mind stopping what I’m doing to attend meetings; it’s just that what I stop to attend meetings for, and how it’s delivered, organized, and conveyed, should be productive and efficient. (We should all have those expectations.) There is just too much we’re wasting our time on that could be handled by preparing background/white papers and answering questions accordingly. Yes, there should be some meetings that take place in person. (Use your best judgement and honest assessment.) But my hope is that people realize they’re not being as efficient with their meetings (and time) as they think they are.

3. We realize everyone has lives outside of work and business.

We’re real people. We’re all human. We’re not just an employee number. In video meetings we get a sense of who people are by what they wear, what their home looks like, how they contribute during uncertain times, etc. We get to see a little bit of the real person – a part of themselves most people leave at home. There’s more to each of us than the professional façade we present to each other. Realizing that is understanding, and understanding leads to stronger connections.

4. We learn to appreciate seeing each other more.

How will our relationships change when we no longer have to stay away from each other? Sure, there will be a new level of awareness of the self and of others with regard to shaking hands and germs and whatnot. But our conversations will take on a new energy because we won’t be limited to phone calls or video. Nothing can replace that energy of being in person. (Ummm…except during certain meetings. Please see point #2.)

5. Different people have different styles — and they can all contribute value in their own UNIQUE way.

This plays hand-in-hand with seeing people’s environments (their lives) at home when on a video call. There are countless stories I’ve heard of people’s communication styles changing once they were working from home. People have different needs. Some don’t want to be on a video call, while others don’t mind. Hopefully, we’ll be mindful of personal preferences and understanding when we head back into the office.

6. There’s so much opportunity to learn and interact with others outside of a job.

Choosing not to lose the opportunity to help others, many organizations have put on free virtual workshops, webinars, discussions, and networking events during this crisis. Hopefully, people are taking advantage of those offerings and in doing so realize how much is out there for them to take on, learn about, and seek out for themselves. It’d be a shame if people didn’t reassess what they’re learning – or not learning – through their jobs. So many opportunities to get better are there for the taking – if we choose to seek them out. Employers should consider whether they have to up their game in what they provide their people. People will have more positivity, development, and relationship expectations of their employers. Some people will get back to normal as if nothing happened. People in the right circles, though, will remind each other not to take anything for granted.

Related: When You Want To Celebrate Your Win, But Your Coach Says, “Look Back And Learn!”

7. We’ll see the real leadership come through. Some will raise us up, while others will let us down.

As a leadership junkie, this is one I couldn’t help but think about as this crisis started to take hold. It’s in the emotional situations where you find out who someone really is. The facades come down, and the roles evaporate. Honestly, sh!t gets real! Right now, in our world, lives are on the line. That’s not an exaggeration. No hyperbole here. Who are the bosses and leaders, managers and supervisors who will step up and do right by their followers. People will remember what you were all about when so much was on the line.

8. There is a need to find balance for ourselves, whatever “balance” looks like for each of us.

This is the closest we’re going to get to imagining a society that might not be here in the near future. We don’t know how far this thing will go or what will happen. Right now, most of us are dealing with work and our personal life overlapping. There’s an opportunity to balance out who we are and what we need across our various roles. With so much on the line, we realize and begin to live new priorities. We realign.

9. Commuting sucks and is such a waste of time.

Commuting is a necessary evil. Granted, with my relatively short commute, I can actually appreciate it. It’s a time to get ready for the day while driving into work. And it’s a time in the afternoon to decompress from work so as to not bring too much of it home. Some days it can be good, while other days it can be filled with traffic, glaring sun, and road-raging racers. That’s just my story, though. For others, it can take up an ungodly and inordinate amount of time.

10. We give more respect to our first responders, medical community, and teachers. (They should wear capes.)

And while we’re reassessing our priorities, let’s make sure we include respect to those in our community who deserve so much. My fear is that regardless of this pandemic and being so close to the brink of a societal collapse, we’re still not going to learn how to treat each other the right way. We won’t learn, take on, and appreciate a new level of humanity.

Every setback can be an opportunity. It sounds so cliché, I know, but think it through by considering all those points I listed above and others not captured here that you may realize from your own experience.

What can you learn from this experience? What will you take away? How is it reshaping you? Don’t let the lessons pass you by.

Related: Remember! Don’t Wait For Your Next Audience To Package Your Experience For You

Recognize what you’re taking away for yourself. Recognize how you’re growing in ways to help other people.

And let me know if you need anything at all.

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