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Crisis Management is a Time for Reflection

How are you managing the rapidly changing environment created by the COVID-19 crisis? Maybe you’re overwhelmed, or maybe you’re feeling hopeless. I spent Monday and Tuesday in a deep funk, at times breaking into tears with the thoughts of uncertainty that pervaded my days.

Whether it’s grief or paralyzing fear, your experience is valid. What you’re going through is real. You’re not going through it alone – we’re all on a parallel journey through this mine field of reality that is our existence today. I encourage you to give yourself permission to feel the emotions that come along with a crisis like the one we’re living through. It may be unpleasant, but it could also turn into an opportunity to step into the next iteration of yourself.

The price of possibility is sometimes very high

You may be questioning everything right now, like I am. And you should – you should allow yourself to delve head-first into an existential review of who you are in order to emerge from the crisis with a degree of resilience and optimism about your future. In fact, it’s sometimes the only way you can create the future you want. But the price you’re paying right now feels extraordinarily high. That’s because it is. This period of questioning, discomfort, and loss (or even grief) is the human experience of crises like this one.

What you may not be able to see today is how this experience will turn into something positive. And here’s what I offer you to ruminate on: it will be OK because you’re going to make it OK.

If you’re struggling with how to make it OK, allow me to share what I’m doing in this very uncertain time: I’m borrowing from Burning Man. You read that correctly – Burning Man. More precisely, I’m using the Ten Principles of Burning Man to realign my practice with my core values. I’m also giving myself some guidance about how to remain emotionally healthy during this crisis.

The price of not changing may be even higher

Where the Ten Principles are a reflection of the event’s ethos and culture, you can use this time to reflect on your own ethos. Where they call on attendees to be inclusive, authentic, responsible, and immersive in their participation, you can use this time to consider what limitations you want to challenge, what assumptions aren’t serving you well, and where you’re taking short-cuts that keep you from growth.

You can do all of this if you commit about a half-hour a day to reflection and creating change amid crisis. Or you can emerge from this time of isolation unchanged. But what will you regret tomorrow if you choose to do nothing?

A model for reflection

If you need a model, borrow mine. I’ve listed the Ten Principles along with some of the questions I plan to use on this inward journey:

  • Radical Inclusion – What alliances can I consider to grow my practice post-crisis? Who have I avoided before and how can I be more inclusive in the future?
  • Gifting – Who needs my support now? What can I offer those around me as we manage this crisis together? How will my gift change when we resume life again?
  • Decommodification – What relationships have I over-valued? How can I better align them so they fit more appropriately into my values structure?
  • Radical Self-Reliance – What limits have I imposed on myself? How can I challenge those limits to break through their bonds?
  • Radical Self-Expression – How have I stopped myself from taking risks or acting boldly? What do I want to be known for and how will I make it happen?
  • Communal Effort – Who is my professional tribe? How can I build community in that group? How do I fulfill my professional obligations to them? What do I appreciate about them?
  • Civic Responsibility – How can I be a bigger contributor to my community? What changes will I see in myself as a result of contributing more?
  • Leaving No Trace – Where am I wasting resources? How can I be a better steward of the shared resources around me? What relationships do I need to repair and nurture?
  • Participation – Where am I not authentically participating in my life or practice? What changes will I commit to in order to rectify this?
  • Immediacy – Where am I participating in my life or practice at a purely surface level? What is getting in my way? What can I give up to be more immersed in growing my practice and my life?

A crisis can become an opportunity

Hopefully, you won’t be in this position again in your lifetime. It’s a crisis that no one wanted, but one that gives you an opportunity to focus on who you want to be tomorrow, whenever that day arrives. If you find yourself stuck on any of these areas or on a question of your choosing, please email or respond here and I’ll do what I can to support you through it. Now is a time to pull together so we re-enter our lives better for having gone through this hell.

Stay safe. Practice physical distancing. Care for those around you. May we all emerge from this crisis with greater clarity about what matters.

Bradley K. Ward, PCC is a transformational and leadership coach at The Mission Coach, LLC in Palm Springs, CA. Contact Brad to find out how coaching can help you do what you do, better!

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