From coping to living during a crisis

As this COVID-19 crisis also challenges us to face the unknown, I believe that everything I have collected for true unrestricted and passionate collaboration, especially in terms of the behavioural skills needed, is invaluable. In fact, any collaborative journey also confronts us with chaos and uncertainty.

Assessing the impact of the crisis

First, let’s make a quick analysis of the impact of this crisis on us.

The word crisis is translated into Chinese by 2 ideograms: danger and opportunity.

In turbulent times, we are affected in several ways. The waves move in all directions placing us in unstable positions. Yes, there are dangers. However, under the right conditions, humans can be adaptable and resilient. It is even in our nature! So there are opportunities too, let’s not forget them.

We all have what it takes to remain as peaceful as possible in the face of these dangers and adapt step by step in most areas, provided of course that we want to.

First, let’s see which areas are most affected using this quadrant below, and see how we can best cope.

It might be surprising for some to see a distinction between energy and the body. After all, we are all energy!

The reason for this separation is because our engine needs a lot more fuel during turbulent times. In fact, many things are different.

From our office environment, to the fact that we have children at home, the inability to visit our relatives, the need to cook more often, less physical exercise, etc.

More than ever, we need the help of our thoughtful brain to understand how to do what we need to do to achieve our goals. And, unfortunately, this is very exhausting for us.

Usually, we live about 95% of our time in fully automatic mode, with the intuitive brain in action. Some call it the lazy brain, because thanks to it, we save a lot of energy, limiting the number of decisions we make during a day (and we are talking about thousands of decisions every day!).

Now let’s look a some powerful strategies, which will have a huge impact on improving our health. The purpose is to develop a holistic strategy, yet moving step by step.

1/ Energy

We need to save our energy more and more by creating new habits, which will allow us to reduce the number of decisions we need to take everyday with our lazy brain.

Furthermore, we need to learn how to restore our energy levels efficiently.

What we need to keep a good level of energy is:

  • Clarity of purpose: In order to remain stable in turbulent times, the key is to connect to our purpose (work purpose, life purpose, why we are here, what we want to achieve) and stick to it.
  • Sense of care: To avoid the feeling of emptiness, especially if we are completely isolated, the solution is to help others, to lend a hand or simply to do good things. These kind actions will be very good for our energy. Kindness is a good solution for us, to calm our inner judge, and it is a necessary condition for maintaining healthy habits as much as possible throughout the journey.
  • Focus & unfocus: It is essential to learn to focus in the attention economy in which we live. Yet, with all these possible distractions from social media and all the other digital tools we need to use for our work as well as all other apps, for me it’s even more important to learn to unfocus. We need to take time to breathe, disconnect between meetings or between tasks. Between work and private life.
  • Compassion: It would be easy to feel ashamed or guilty in difficult times. So more than ever, if we want to cope well, we need to be compassionate with ourselves. There are many reasons why we can do better than what we are currently doing. Do not get mad at yourself. It is normal that we cannot play at the same level. Remember the times when we have been successful and raise our awareness that it will be possible to be successful again. Develop hope and faith in a better future, in which you will again master your life from A to Z!
  • Give & receive: If it is important to give, there is a very important balance to achieve because we can only give others the energy we receive. But be careful, do not fall into the trap of thinking that those to whom you have given will be the ones who will return you (in fact, from my experience, it hardly ever happens like this!). So, we need to be more aware of the times we give and the times we need to receive. Do not just throw everything “you are” on the table (set healthy limits…). If you tend to be a giver, inform your loved ones that more than ever, you need to receive more energy because as said above, these turbulent times are draining a lot of us. Kids like to give when we explain why it’s good. Do not hesitate to involve them in your tasks, for example. Take advantage of the opportunity to give them more responsibilities at home, and be grateful. As well, eat food that provides many vitamins, such as fresh vegetables and fruits. Then to recharge your batteries, include more spaces for relaxing, good sleep, meditation, etc.
  • Sense of control: Focus on what you can control and give up on what you cannot. Draw the distinctions very clearly in your head. Do not worry about other behaviours for example, focus on adapting your own. The ability to go over what we cannot control is important. Develop the skill of “letting go” regularly by giving up what you cannot act on! Quick advice: put your thoughts on a train and visualise it leave the station. Or grab a small ball, put your thoughts in it and drop it on the floor.
  • Imagination: If we cannot travel physically, travel in your mind and you will cheat yourself pretty well. The brain is not able to create a distinction between the reality and the dreams. So make beautiful dreams to have a beautiful reality. Fake until you make it. The situation can really be difficult, but the way we think about it can change everything about our reality. This is also why, in case of anxiety, imagination can be very powerful. This needs practice to be more effective, so my recommendation is to start to create space for more imagination in our life. Every single day!

In short: focus on what you can control. Some issues might be better dealt with later, when we will be back to a more normal life.

2/ Body

In particular, in times of crisis, we need to improve the collaboration between the heart and brain, and the body and mind. Working on the body will have a huge impact, as it is known to heal the exhausted or sad mind.

  • Willpower: We need to develop our willpower muscle to be able to cope with problems. It will allow us to develop our mental toughness to approach them one by one. Let me tell you that it’s a very bad idea to let the problems get worse until the evening, for example, when it’s finally time to relax. It is not a time to feel overwhelmed. This is again a good reason for creating more spaces in the day for reflection. To develop our willpower, we can for example take a cold shower every morning or work out by setting increasingly difficult (but attainable) challenges. And of course, congratulate yourself for them.
  • Self-discipline: To be honest, I’m not a big fan of this word, because I know from science that as soon as we talk about efforts, our brain resists. I told you above that the brain is lazy, so to change anything in our life, we have to cheat our brain by saying that change is very easy to achieve. Let’s go back to the reason for a little self-discipline now. We need planning and habits throughout the day to allow us to reduce the number of decisions to be made and increase the feeling of control. So every time we feel we are distracted from our goal, we need to come back to it. It will give us a good reason for some self-discipline and healthy habits that will allow us to maintain good mental and emotional energy throughout the crisis. The best one is #Love of course.
  • Self-awareness and self-exploration: It is essential to listen to ourselves in order to be able to adapt more effectively. It is also very important to know what our inner limits are right now. So ask yourself, what are the beliefs that prevent you from moving forward? What is stopping you from adjusting to the current situation? This crisis gives us a good opportunity to better connect with ourselves and identify patterns that can make adaptation more difficult.
  • Well-being: We need to make sure we leave enough time to take care of ourselves. Soft gymnastics is the best, like yoga. And we need to take time for ourselves, massages, beauty treatments, makeovers, etc. We can also find a lot of resources online. And remember, breathing gives us the oxygen we need to function properly. It is also very important to hydrate ourselves regularly with water, as we spend a lot of time in closed environments.

3/ Work

Because we cannot stop to work during the crisis, this is an area of our life that finds itself greatly impacted too.

Here are some solutions to improve:

  • Transparency: Use the collaborative platforms to workout loud, which is to share what we are doing, and our problems to leverage the collective intelligence of our team. Increasing the sense of belonging and interdependency has never been so important, now that we are physically distant. As a general rule, do not let anyone in their little corner with individual tasks. Think collaboration.
  • Accountability: It means that we do what we say we will do and do it with a good level of conscientiousness. If we need to focus on less tasks, and even keep only those we can really do well in these conditions, it is better. It will be best for our morale. A sense of doing well is important. Trust is like a back pack. We lose points and we gain points. It’s ok to lose points today, if we are clear that we will do better when back in more normal conditions. But we need to say it, we need to be honest about our difficulties.
  • Teaming: The ability to form teams and dismantle them is a critical competency, when we find ourselves in situations where it’s impossible to know the answer alone to any problem. Often, we are very good at launching new initiatives, much less at ending them. Again, this requires practice. Do not forget that we cannot change behaviour, but we can model the behaviour we want to see in others.
  • Growth mindset: Adopting a problem-solving mindset, always looking for solutions and never blaming for the sake of blaming is essential. Being creative is a must in times of necessary adaptation.
  • Critical mind: The ability to challenge the status quo and to question our tasks is a must. We need to draw the lessons from this crisis to challenge the way we do things. If we can, we need to document what we learn along the way. Journaling is extremely powerful in times of crisis. This knowledge will be critical when coming back to a more “normal” life. I told you that there are also opportunities in a crisis. And I have a lot of hope, that what seems very abnormal will be changed, allowing us to have an even better life afterwards. Anything that seems absurd must be thrown away for good!

4/ Relations

Obviously, our relations will be impacted. Included, the one with ourselves. These little tips will do wonders to improve them.

  • Authority: Command & control is a thing of the past. Good authority is about empowering others to find the solutions by themselves. It is about asking the powerful questions that make people think
  • Positive intention associated with vulnerability and authenticity are absolute. We cannot expect people to act in a vulnerable and authentic way if we cannot accept that they are making mistakes, for example. We need an environment of psychological safety, where people can express themselves and take initiative without fear of being punished.
  • Healthy conflicts: Conflicts cannot and should not be avoided. Like problems, we have to face them one by one. Never focus on the values ​​around the conflict, always on the content. Because both parties will always find good reasons to think that their values ​​are good.
  • Listening attentively: it is the ability to listen attentively to others. Some know the communication rule: 7% is verbal, 93% non-verbal. Obviously, this rule has its critics, let me say that focusing all of our attention on the words spoken is not good. We must include in our listening the tone of voice and non-verbal signs. All in all, they take us to the truest message. That’s why I am such a fan of reading poetry 🙂

Conclusion

What I want you to remember is this: if we allow ourselves to adapt, we will adapt. We should not resist. Go step by step with the flow. And be compassionate with yourself when you do not reach your goals. It has never been more important to learn to focus on the present moment, adapt to the evolving context, and mobilise the rational brain, while having healthy habits.

Adaptation is key. Different challenges continue to emerge. Be mindful of the emotional virus and take action to stop it. Invigorating energy is always possible. Be creative. Involve those who stay motivated and willing to support, and spread another kind of virus: positive this time, hope, faith, willingness to act, and love of course.

I also believe we need to explore much more the power of solidarity and collective intelligence. Because if we are together, we can surely find powerful solutions to most of our problems. So my message is to never be afraid to reach out to others if we encounter issues. Seek for peer support during this period, so you can be inspired by others’ powerful strategies along the way.

You will be positively surprised and rewarded. We are all going through a difficult time and we are all trying to adapt. No one should feel inferior. We are all humans trying to do better. And, some common success factors are for example a humble attitude and a growth mindset. This crisis is offering us great moments to explore the best of our humanity.

And I would like to encourage each other to take the time for more little treats. These little gestures of kindness – almost – insignificant to us, a piece of our chocolate bar, a small gift after a trip that we make, with authenticity, not predicting the possibly huge impact on the person we give it to. A culture where people are used to being generous with small gestures or moments of informal treats will see great results in terms of morale and performance.

A little treat can be a word of care, a special moment of attention… You know that feeling that WE CARE, WE EXIST IN THE EYES OF THE OTHER PERSON.

Finally, laugh, it proves to be a powerful way to fight the moments of turbulence. Maybe, we take things a little too seriously in these times.

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