May 13, 2020

The Future

It seems like everyone is talking about the future. When will my kids be able to go back to school? What will happen with offices? Will I ever be able to attend a concert or game again? Can I get a haircut?!

It’s like society, as a whole, is having a panic attack.

All of this is heightening our collective desire for three things that everyone wants:

  • Security
  • Control
  • Approval

Our security has been shaken because many of us don’t know if or how we’ll make a living in the coming months. Control has been shaken because we can’t just “fix” COVID-19 and make everything return to the way it was. And approval has been shaken because nearly every place where we found approval, from a paycheck to a hug, is at risk or has ceased altogether.

The Result

Many of us are fighting to re-capture as much of these three things as we can. That’s why #retailtherapy is a thing — receiving a package makes you feel like you’re ok. This is also why you might have the sudden urge to reorganize your bathroom. You can control where you put your razor.

The Temptation

If you’re leading a team, organization, family — your temptation might be to somehow give security, control, or approval to those around you. To play the hero. You might be over-working, over-planning, or just trying to heighten positive communication (“It’s fine. I’m fine. This is fine. We’re going to be FINE!”). That only works for so long. Then burnout sets in.

For many of us, we have relied entirely on outside forces to meet our deep need for security, control, and approval. Those forces usually change incrementally and we adjust. But this time, they’ve changed so drastically that we don’t know what to do. That’s the root of a lot of the panic. We’re reacting to what’s happening and trying to change things that are out of our control.

That reactivity can be detrimental. You’re rarely thinking clearly under stress. Adrenaline and cortisol are not your friends here.

The Response

Instead, try imagining what a collective deep breath might look like for you and your team. Try pausing, calling out what’s going well, and what needs attention. You’ll find that even when those three necessities are under attack, you have more ability than you might think to replenish them without anyone or anything else. There’s never been a better time to remind yourself of fundamental truths...

  • What do you appreciate about your skills and character?
  • What can you do each day that’s within your power?
  • What truly valuable things do you already have in your life or work?

The more you can fill your own security, control, and approval, the more you can face problems with hope rather than panic and desperation. Your next interesting idea, healthy decision, or good day is on the other side of you examining which of those three things you need most, and redefining where you receive them.

No one knows what the future will hold, but by readjusting these inputs, you’ll find your days will be a little clearer.

PS: We’re beginning to offer a wider array of interactive workshops for individuals, teams, and leaders — all focused on the skills necessary to lead through change during this pandemic. If you're part of a team that's looking to manage, build, innovate, or lead better, send us a note (hello [at] and we'll share a call.

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