Normally releasing a newsletter every three or so weeks provides the benefit of collecting thoughts and reflecting — leading to something more worthwhile, avoiding the weekly treadmill to pump out words and links (I think more newsletters should be less frequent).
This time is different, so much has changed in the last month. We didn’t gradually ease into it week-by-week. Instead, I feel I’m writing in a different world. In some ways, this new world means I’m writing to different people (changed by circumstances), and writing as a different person (similarly changed by circumstances). Our reference points have shifted.
The narrative we were building now seems unrelated to the world we’re living in. I’m sure we’ll get back to some sort of normal, but that’s not on the immediate horizon. Life feels heavy, deep, disconcerting — and getting more so, almost daily.
So we interrupt our regularly schedule program. I’ll continue addressing the same topics we’ve gathered together to explore, but in an altered environment. This new moment highlights the importance of science and technology. And it underlines the need for using science and technology to be our best selves. So our mission here, in this newsletter and this community, is more important than ever. But I want to acknowledge that something is very different. It’s just impossible to ignore.
With the initial surreal disorientation of locking-down cities evolving into an accepted new reality, some things are still overwhelming and disorienting (breaking news every hour), and others are starting to set in as dull and routine (work from home realities, and has anyone else been eating cereal for dinner?).
The one thing that continues, at an accelerating pace, is change. Change was already fast in our daily lives, and now time is moving at warp speed. It’s mind-blowing to think what has happened over the past three weeks. News from a day or two ago feels like a week or two ago. And no sign of slowdown in sight.
The one thing I know amid all this uncertainty, the one thing that’s most clear to me as we isolate and work from home and wonder what might come next, is that it’s a massive opportunity for growth. Growth for individuals, growth for families, and growth for professional teams.
Context shifts are always good for self-discovery. And this is a monster context shift. Uncertain futures increase the importance of self awareness, and we’re facing a truly uncertain time ahead. We can’t control what’s happening on the outside, be we can do a lot with what’s happening on the inside. If you can get yourself to the right place internally, you can take on anything the world throws at you.
It’s easier said than done, but it’s totally doable… with effort.
Of all places to be stuck in lock-down, home is not a bad one. We can be appreciative for that. Previous generations were called to war to serve their society, we’re called to sit at home. Not ideal, but it could be a lot worse. Let’s start by being grateful. And we really do have a lot to be grateful for.
Gratitude is power. You cannot be grateful and angry at the same time, it’s impossible. Try it, can’t be done. I write down one new thing every morning that I’m grateful for (no repeating, new one each time). Every single morning. Some recommend writing three things you’re grateful for, I say just do one. Three has you rattling off a list, one has you focusing and owning that single specific thing. It internalizes better. This routine has changed me in profound ways. I’ll bet it will change you too if you give it a try.
I’ll also bet you’ve had personal enhancement goals on your to-do list. Maybe they keep getting pushed back since they’re not urgent. Guess what, your excuses just got canceled. Your schedule is more open now. Come out the back-end of this as a new person, with new strength and new systems and new personal power.
Do the same with your family. Sit down with them (or call) and talk about how each of you feel, how you could communicate and support each other better.
Talk with your professional team, figure out how to make these remote tools you’re experimenting with enhance team interaction even after the isolation period ends. Ask each other what has not been working well for each team member. Identify sticking points you may not have been aware of. Discuss solutions.
What systems and processes and habits and routines would enhance your life? Or your professional team’s performance? Why not look into a road-map for improvement now? Be determined to come out of the lock-down better than you went into it, reverse the negative narrative. THAT is taking control in a situation that initially felt helpless.
If you lost your job or it hangs by a precarious thread, start building stronger footing for yourself. Undergo self-design
now to be a better job candidate in the future through skill improvement and enhanced habits and routines.
Start that side hustle, or develop a stronger public voice to increase your profile in the marketplace of work and ideas. Lots of people are watching videos and reading blogs right now (all content consumption is up, except for podcast listening which has decreased — podcasts are consumed on commutes and in gyms).
Our routines are being shaken up right now. Big change creates big opportunity. Use it.