In an effort to proactively be of service to all stakeholders in my life, recognizing the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the range and severity of current external factors and conditions that extend beyond the current health crisis (environmental, economic, political, etc.) and the variety of responses internally, we as individuals, organizations and communities are exhibiting (fight, flight, flee) from denial on one end of the spectrum to panic or paralysis on the other end- both of which are equally ineffective- we owe it to ourselves to take control of our mindset, heart set and skillsets to pull ourselves together and find that place, somewhere in between those two extremes, that is beneficial, solutions-oriented and can help us make the best decisions and take the best actions in these times of stress and uncertainty.
In the wisdom traditions we understand the difference between jitsu (calm concentration) and kyo (disrupted mental equilibrium) and much of our mental training/conditioning is to be able to practice calm concentration regardless of the external circumstances and especially when everyone around you is a disrupted or disbalanced state.
I am reminded of two poems:
Desiderata By Max Ehrmann © 1927
GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
And If… by Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a (hu)man my son!
Right now, so many of us are currently experiencing cognitive threshold; where one’s capacity to process and sense-make exceeds our ability to adjust.
This is compounded by saturation where our psyches are no longer able to absorb any more and things just start to overflow out of control.
Our mindset; Calm concentration or mental disruption- i.e. how we show up- has a material effect on our ability to respond effectively to threats of this magnitude and exceptionality.
One theory to help us understand this is the Threat Rigid Response
When people, organizations or systems are under threat, they tend to close down, and restrict the cognitive novelty that is available to them in their own world.
Threat–rigid responses tend to limit options and information flow, constrain decision making, and increase stress. The question then becomes, what can mitigate this?
Trust and leadership dimensions that support empowerment and involvement will predict an organization’s ability to minimize a threat–rigid response, and flexibly negotiate new demands as Dr. Alan Daly has identified in his research in 2009.
Under threat we tend to:
Circle the wagons and cut off your boundary to the outside. We see this now with flights from Europe being cancelled or the Canadian border being closed as examples.
Make reactive decisions that are made by just a few people. This is also evidenced right now with a few people making the same very stereotyped repetitive decisions that may or may not be in the collective’s best interest.
With a big threat looming, we unfortunately tend to respond in very rigid ways that don’t open up the space, rather we tend to close down.
Mitigants to the Threat Rigid response supported by trust and leadership dimensions are conditions such as a sense of belonging (think Maslow) , a sense of caring (Empathy and Compassion), and feeling like you are part of something bigger that others also care about (a sense of Purpose).
What is paradoxical about the threat rigid response is that in a time of urgency and crisis like we are in right now, when we need to be at our very best, our blinders are on and some could argue we end up behaving at our worst…
We need to recognize, reflect, reframe and respond in better ways to ensure better outcomes!
In one word- resilience…
Stay informed. Be proactive and prosocial. Hope for the best but prep for the worst…
The U.S. Isn’t Ready for What’s About to Happen
Even with a robust government response to the novel coronavirus, many people will be in peril. And the United States is anything but prepared.
7 potentially deadly errors the US is making in its coronavirus response
Public health professionals at the CDC and elsewhere need to speak with the public every single day.
Resources to Staying Informed and Remaining Resilient:
The Latest on the Spread of Coronavirus Around the World:
For interactive graphic tracking global spread: tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7
Harvard Health Publishing Coping with Coronavirus Anxiety:
Social distancing prevents infections, but it can have unintended consequences.
Social distancing does not have to mean social isolation
Get out in nature in your neck of the woods while you still can:
Download the All Trails app from your favorite location and get in the great outdoors
Exercise your sense of humor-
For some relief rely on our Aussie friends with this little ditty…
The Ballad of Dunny Roll:
No worries in Kona apparently…
Thanks this week go to Alan D, John I, Paul S, Ron A, Bob C, Larry H, and all of you taking care of one another.
Pay it forward.
Rightly considered, this could be a chance to change how we connect with and behave toward one another. Can we forge a new sense of global and social unity built on facing serous adversity together?
“Out of all-inclusive, unconditional compassion comes the healing of all mankind.”— Dr. David Hawkins