Oh No Omicron: Three Mindset Hacks to Help You Cope and Lead Through It
Issue 187 — December 20, 2021
Just when we thought it was safe to go into the water…or to the theater, to the office, inside the restaurant, to have our family and friends together for holidays…maybe even to feel comfortable taking our masks off — everything changed again.
Has the Omicron strain of Covid-19 thrown a big monkey wrench into your plans for the holidays? You’re not alone. If you’re an organization leader, you’re probably recalculating your plans to bring people back into the office. And a feeling of exhaustion is settling over the land. The constant media high pitched reporting about it adds to the anxiety.
For many, the recurrence of this easily transmissible strain of the virus is harder to deal with emotionally than the previous ones even though now we have vaccines. Is this going to be our life from now on? Continued vigilance is draining enough. Experiencing the losses and grief of the past two years has been mentally devastating, and rightfully mental health is finally becoming a top level conversation.
But we can’t help but wonder now with dread whether every few months we will be faced with a new strain that requires a rethink of — almost everything. How much more of this emotional whiplash can we take?
All over the country just a week ago, restaurants, parks, and streets were filling up again. We started complaining about traffic again. Children were back in school and an increasing number of offices were filled with workers, albeit with the positive new normal of more flexibility in where people work. We could plan trips and birthday parties. I could consider in-person speaking engagements. Take The Lead began imagining its third annual Power Up conference as hybrid with a vibrant in person component. I feel sad for us all and angry at those who still resist vaccines that could prevent or mitigate much of the problem.
In the last month, I attended three Broadway plays. It was exhilarating to be back in the theater, in community with thousands of excited theatergoers. We didn’t mind arduous vaccination checks with photo identifications. Everyone was mask compliant without complaint. The joy we felt exploded into standing ovations, sometimes even before the play started. Now the theaters are cancelling performances again. The Radio City Rockettes cancelled their iconic Christmas Spectacular shows. Will the eagerly anticipated return of the Times Square New Years Eve celebration go on as planned? Should it? As of this writing, we don’t know.
And so we come face to face to the reality that we must change our thinking altogether.
This is no longer about a single pandemic, though COVID is the current disruption that sent the world to its knees. It’s about how we will lead and navigate through disruption.
One thing we can be sure of: There will be other pandemics. There will be other massive disruptions — technologies that change how we work and live; weather events ranging from hurricanes and tornadoes to all out climate change; global conflicts; and of course, infectious diseases.
And there will be the constant individual disruptions we all face in our lives, from business setbacks to losing people we love. My book Intentioning: Sex, Power, Pandemics, and How Women Will Take the Lead for (Everyone’s) Good was unfortunately more prescient than I realized in saying that.
I’m sharing these three thought and action processes because I’ve found they help me, and I intend that they will help you to make smart decisions for yourself. You can use them to manage that exhausted feeling and by your example, help others around you to do so as well.
Three mindsets will get you through and help you get more of what you want in life, regardless of what else is happening.
- The long term mindset: Focus not on a single pandemic, though COVID is the current disruption. The real challenge is about how we interpret and lead through disruption without losing focus on our highest intentions, our deepest purpose. What can you learn from previous such situations? What’s different about this one? What will you look back five years from now and wish you had understood about this time?
- The midterm mindset: Where are the opportunities in the midst of this disruption? Apply this question not just to money making or advancing in your career, but also to your relationship building and personal development. Clarify who means the most to you and stay in touch with them even if only virtually. Find pleasure in having kids at home, even with the mess and interruptions. Every turbulence opens up new resources that weren’t available or noticed before. Every constraint forces creativity. How can you lead through ambiguity? What opportunities are there for you that you haven’t yet taken advantage yet? Personally I’m on a mission to find 50 women who will contribute $1000 each by the year’s end to help Take The Lead help more women whose careers have been disrupted to recalibrate or rethink their futures. Perhaps the money we aren’t spending on clothes and travel can be redirected toward helping others in this tangible way.
- The short term mindset: How do you take care of yourself mentally and physically in these times so that you can stay healthy? How do you maximize the value of your midterm and long range mindsets to get the most out of today? Exercise daily. Walk and talk outside with friends or family members. Don’t hang out with people who refuse to get vaccinated or practice other sound public health measures. (Yes, I said it and I don’t care if it makes you mad.) Read something uplifting or instructive every day. Be grateful. Express love. Help someone and ask for help when you need it. Meditate, journal, pray — whatever is your preferred way to stay in touch with your deepest purpose. The best antidote to mental exhaustion is action. Breathe. Celebrate even the smallest victories. Share your Power to Change story so we can celebrate with you.
Wishing you the happiest of holidays and the gift of mindset magic as we enter the Brave New Year. See you in 2022. We’re going to make it a great one.
GLORIA FELDT is the Cofounder and President of Take The Lead, a motivational speaker and expert women’s leadership developer for companies that want to build gender balance, and a bestselling author of five books, most recently Intentioning: Sex, Power, Pandemics, and How Women Will Take The Lead for (Everyone’s) Good. Former President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, she teaches “Women, Power, and Leadership” at Arizona State University and is a frequent media commentator. Learn more at www.gloriafeldt.com and www.taketheleadwomen.com. Tweet Gloria Feldt.