“Rest, but never quit.” John Greenleaf Whittier
Our daughter started college this week––at home. Not what she or any of us have ever expected, a freshman year at the university that begins with a laptop on the family room sofa.
My husband, a university professor, also started school. In another room in our home. He never imagined himself teaching labs online or holding office hours from a home office.
Meanwhile, my team and I conducted a three-hour leadership training on how to structure a team—yep, you guessed it—online.
I think many, if not most of us, thought COVID would be here for a season. Spring. And then that season would be over. Summer would arrive and with it, a return to normal life. In the Fall, school would start in the same way it always has.
Such hopeful (maybe wishful) thinking helped us create an envelope of normalcy. Now, with the start of the school year, it feels like the chaos is back — but in reality, it was never truly gone.
It's increasingly clear that we’re running a marathon with many miles still ahead of us. It’s not just a test of strength but of endurance, requiring courage and resilience. I have confidence in those qualities of the human spirit. We can do this, just like the children’s storybook, The Little Engine That Could, taught us to believe.
Here are some thoughts that I hope will help us all:
A reminder about Routine: have a few things you do every day, no matter what. Streamline decision making by limiting the number of choices confronting you each day. Let your brain chunk whenever possible to conserve cognitive and emotional bandwidth.
Have a few affirmative statements ready to repeat when you start to feel overwhelmed (a suggestion from Dr. Alison Caldwell-Andrews at Southern Virginia University).
“I experience discouragement and I turn away from it and keep working hard.”
“I experience myself as someone who can and does continue to work hard. I watch myself doing it.”
“I will experience feeling silly or stupid or inadequate and I'll keep working hard anyway.”
I love how these phrases separate failure from our identity. Our identity is that we are hard workers who persevere, even when things don't go our way.
If you are really feeling alone—too much—please, please ask for help. I'm inspired by this article from Lenny Mendonca, former Chief Economic and Business Adviser to the Governor of California.
Reflect on life’s turning points as Mark Metry, this week’s podcast guest, did. He was discouraged but found a turning point while listening to a podcast with Tim Ferriss. Most of us can remember a turning point (or many) in a time of discouragement. What were you doing? Possibly listening to something, reading a book or quote, having a conversation. I usually find it in sacred texts—what is it for you?
“When you feel that spark, when you have something inside of you that all of a sudden you say, ‘Wow, yes, that's the thing that I need to do. That's what moves me.’ It's a tremendous amount of energy and resource that you can direct towards what matters to you.”
We are building our disruption muscle.
We can run another mile.
P.S. A potential silver lining on kids starting school from home–-it separates school from the social anxiety of starting something new. Students can get some momentum academically, staging the process, before they jump into the social aspect of school. Potentially a big positive.
P.S. The more I coach, the more I realize I need a coach, and peers to encourage and keep me accountable. Many of you have reached out wanting either coaching or accountability. We created the Disruption Accelerators so that we could do this together; our next cohort starts on September 1st. You can learn more here.