To Panic or Not

Don’t panic.  Reactions speak louder than actions. The flurry of information and activity about the Coronavirus is taking on a life of its own.  Bombarded by data, public messages and emails (from well everyone – even just to say they are aware) makes it all more confusing.  The stakes are high.  No one knows where it will end.  Now is the perfect time to think about how you frame and decide your next steps when it feels like you are not in control.

Start with acknowledging reality.  You are not in control, your feelings are accurate.  What is the next right action when you are compelled to take action and the world around you won’t stop spinning?

1. Keep Calm and Slow it Down

Deep breathing promotes calmness by increasing the oxygen supply to your brain.   In through your nose, down to your toes (really that’s belly) three times.   The whole process can take less than 20 seconds and it works!  Click to read a great piece on effectively combatting stress.   If you already have something healthy that works for you (I am not advising a double martini at this time) remember to use it.  Tapping, repeating a mantra, visualization and release all work.  The trick is remembering to do it when the vultures are circling. 

2. Pick Your Key Information Source and Stick to It

During crises, information comes in droves, when you need it and when you don’t.  Turn off the spigot.  Stop gathering and vowing to read it later, check it out, find out more.  That just increases stress and delays action.  Decide who you trust and stick to it.  Don’t make information gathering the full-time job.  Follow the advice from those you trust and tweak as needed.

3. Wait Don’t Avoid

Know the difference between waiting and avoiding.  There is a big difference in waiting and not taking action.  Starting with monitoring, considering and keeping abreast of, are all good responses in many situations.  I would like to reference earlier versions of the iPhone operating system.  You really were better off waiting till later versions with more information and bugs fixed.  Monitor, don’t ignore, delay till it seems that there are solid facts and valid plans emerging that can fit your situation and needs.  The early bird does not indeed always get the worm.  Remember it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese (while the first one gave his life for it).  

4. Get Perspective

Put the situation in perspective.  This too shall pass.  My daughter called me late last night, still at her office in the middle of disaster planning for a major law firm with over 2,000 people.  I said “oh it’s just like Y2K.”  She said “what was that?” I probably gave close to 150 hours of my life to Y2K, including time not with my daughter and now it’s ancient history.  Refresher – Y2K was the fear that computers would crash and cause extensive havoc as the year changed from 1999 to 2000.  Eventually this will be another blip on the screen.   I’m not saying it’s not important.  I am saying it is a week, a month, a point in time when seen in perspective.

5.  Show Up and Use It

One of my favorite sayings is:

Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

There is always something to learn.  A process or plan to change, a way to improve what we do based on current events.  Take those steps now with gusto.  Show up with your best self ready to serve.  Keep it simple and keep it moving.

What’s Next

Don’t panic.  Be available to actually deal with issues that need to be addressed.  Stay present and help be part of the solution not the problem.  

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