What the pandemic is teaching us about our collective power

What the pandemic is teaching us about our collective power

Less than a month ago, we were all facing the typical workday challenges and finding ways to manage through upsets, irritations, deadlines, and quirks in our bosses and peers. We told stories about the villains that made our days harder, we spent too much time being victims and even more telling ourselves tales that we were helpless to do anything about it.

The drone of the day-to-day in a healthy economy allowed us to focus on smaller stories, ones that kept us playing a little game. Whatever we focus our time, effort, and energy upon determines our results.

And then, COVID-19 arrived.

We replaced those upsets, irritations, and quirks in others with concern, support, empathy, and shared purpose. We immediately shifted our collective focus to an unseen enemy that is an existential threat to thousands of lives and organizations. Communication from leaders increased ten-fold, IT departments prepared us to work from home, homeschooling became the new normal, grocery delivery exploded, and Zoom became a lifeline to normalcy.

The virus will decide when this ends, and we will work together to flatten the curve to hasten its decline and departure. And then what?

Then we get to decide what we learned and what we want to keep or discard from these lessons.

I hope we keep these things:

1.  A shared purpose that is big and bold enough to hold our collective focus. One that is deserving of our time, effort, and energy.

2.  The simplified processes that reflect the shortcuts taken to turn emergency plans into decisive action.

3.  The courage to resist the return of command and control cultures from the decentralized decisions and actions executed in the middle and front lines of our organizations to help us through this crisis. We trusted more during this time, and our people became more capable. Let’s embrace that fact and continue developing that strength.

4.  An appreciation for the power of human connection and vulnerability as we watched each other on video screens and peeked into homes filled with barking dogs and high-energy kids.

5.  The distinction that allowing our unhelpful habits to define us is a choice, not a genetic certainty. We came together to fight a common enemy. Moving forward requires us to replace that enemy with a vision worth chasing.

6.  We replaced gossip with purpose. Let’s not let the toxic chatter back in our offices once we return.

7.  We learned that we could do anything together, none of us has all of the answers, and that fighting through uncertainty is better when we have the support of fellow travelers.

Take gentle care of one another, and we will be stronger on the other side.