[May 18, 2022] by Kathy Scott, PhD, and Bridget Sarikas
Are you tired of hearing about all the bad in the world, our organizations, our communities? Do you feel like you are waiting for the big plan to emerge while you tread water and try to survive?
If we’ve been awake at all, the pandemic has really messed with our assumptions. We no longer assume stability. We no longer assume our institutions will faithfully carry on in the background, or that our leaders have our best interests in mind. We no longer assume our favorite products will be on the shelves, or that we will receive timely service. And we no longer assume we will always be healthy. And we’re holding on … waiting, waiting, waiting.
So, what are we waiting for?
There is no big, perfect plan emerging. We now know that the old ways won’t work but we’re also not sure what will. It’s up to each of us to move forward as we thoughtfully think through new ways, based on new assumptions, to replace the old. Doing this requires a slower pace so that we can be more aware of the emerging conditions. Our brains need slow time to absorb the new requirements coming at them.
The COVID pathogen, as small as it is, changed our world. It grew exponentially. It efficiently used the available resources of its hosts. It adapted, self-organized, and used its intelligence to survive under duress.
In fact, it thrived.
We can do the same.
An epidemic is a critical lesson about living, working, surviving, and thriving in challenging times. The way to survive is to use our resources more efficiently, reorganize our thinking, adapt to the changing conditions, and take advantage of the new and emerging conditions all around us.
So how do we see through the haze as we try to move forward? How do we discern what’s important amidst all the noise? And how do we think and behave with more intelligence? While these may seem like some pretty heavy questions, we have some thoughts that can help us move forward.
The World is Not so Straightforward
First, let’s acknowledge that the world is not so straightforward as we run what we see, hear, and feel through our personal filters. These filters cause us to unconsciously interpret our world based on our own biases and experiences.
Everyone else runs their world through their filters too. So we end up with multiple and competing interpretations of data, facts, situations, and events. We are human, and that’s what humans do.
So let’s not confuse our own interpretations of the facts for the facts themselves. They’re not the same thing. Yet knowing there are so many different interpretations out there can become paralyzing and/or polarizing – either one preventing us from moving forward. But there is help for this journey.
Don’t sit back. Thoughtfully act with intention.
Let’s acknowledge and get comfortable with the idea that there is no clear path forward. In other words, let’s get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Let’s acknowledge the importance of staying open and considering others’ views, beliefs, and expectations.
And let’s be willing to make reasonable compromises and adaptations between competing views and interests. Let’s pay more attention to how we use our resources. Let’s use our new intelligence to survive under duress, and re-organize in ways that are healthier for ourselves, and our families, organizations and communities.
Here’s the good news -- small, steady actions can be the contagion that results in great and sustainable change. Don’t worry about perfection – just do it. Small, intentional steps begin to change our personal behaviors and habits as they circumvent our brain’s built-in resistance to change. We have the power to move ourselves forward. Believe it. And when our colleagues and family witness more positive behaviors, they are more likely to mirror those behaviors. Plainly, small acts of positivity encourage bigger ones.
Try it. Change the way you start your day, your meetings, your work. Share an inspiring story where someone made a difference. Ask people for their opinion – and actively consider what they are saying. Acknowledge the gifts people bring to the table regardless of their age, color, gender, role. Get intentional about it.
Contribute to a positive movement. Make the choice – DON’T WAIT!
“I’m taking care of my procrastination issues, just you wait and see.” Author unknown