The pandemic is affecting people in vastly different ways. Most troubling and extreme are those who have died, been hospitalized, come down very sick, or even just been infected. Next come those whose work and income have been completely upended. And sadly, those already at the margins – by virtue of age, wellness, socio-economic status, or other conditions – are most impacted.
For many, many of us, our biggest challenge comes in the form of lethargy, boredom, or a sense of futility. A new day but the same people, same pajamas, Zoom, email, haircut, food…And, of course, the uncertainty of when the sameness will end and what the new normal will be like. Perhaps you are waking up to this today. And so I offer three ideas to help you lead with your best self.
1. Wake up. I know, I know, you couldn’t read this if you weren’t awake. Perhaps these days though, you feel a bit like Bill Murray on Groundhog Day or like Sisyphus. Zeus condemned the latter to Hades, where every day Sisyphus pushed a massive boulder up a hill, only to have it roll back down, again and again. Things feel monotonous. And with the end of the pandemic seemingly a continually receding event, there is also the Sisyphean feeling of futility.
2. Waking up these days begs for your attention and intention. When you woke up today it was not to the same bird, same breath, same clouds, sunrise, email, or client. And, no it was not the same wife or husband or daughter or mother. Oh, it was your mental picture, your memory of “bird,” “clouds,” “wife,” and “mother,” but that’s because you’re not attending to what was or is really here. So, step Two A: Wake up your eyes, nose, ears, heart to what is really here! Attend and . . . Step Two B:
Awaken Genuine Intention. As your wife, son, employee are not the same as they were when last you saw them, neither are you! The surroundings are not the self. So, what might you intend today, this week? What is you, deep and genuine? What would you like to bring to life? Can you sit with yourself for a few precious minutes to inquire of yourself on this day, at this hour, in this moment? What will you intend? If you can, sit with it. Call on the muse. Maybe jot.
I always hate to predispose people by giving examples, but I also know that this question, “what do you intend?” is, for some folks, painfully open-ended and obscure, so I have listed some ideas of intentions below my sign-off.
3. Extend yourself. Re-read the short four lines of the first paragraph. If you’re feeling a little listless, unfocused, or collapsing into your routine, your chair, your couch or self-pity, then get out! Yes, I mean walk, and actually SEE the clouds like you did when you were 5 years old. But I mean attend to the people of paragraph one. I don’t know about you, but I know I’m not doing enough for the people most affected. This week, I will be more intentional and more attentive. Write a check. Write a card. Leave some flowers or some candies. Attend to those in your world who are in those “most impacted” categories. It will do you as much good as it will do them for you to attend, intend and extend yourself,
Leading with your best self.
I said I’d give some example of intentions: to be…curious, joyful, giving, honest, aware, self-caring, imaginative, poetic, musical, quiet, attentive, intentional, outreaching. You can of course be more specific: I intend to be more patient with my wife, more curious about my child, more focused with my workouts, more open to laughter with my co-workers.