Let’s face it: Spring 2020 feels like it's on hold. Paused. Disrupted.
As buzzwords go, disruption has been in the spotlight since Clayton Christensen published his work, “The Innovator’s Dilemma,” in 1997. Christensen describes a process “by which a product or services take root, … eventually displacing established competitors.” Displacing. Disrupting. Forcing new ways of thinking and new ways of doing. Our spring 2020 is disrupted.
Most of us, 86 percent, don’t like change, according to the Institute for Motivational Learning (2006). We like our days to follow a schedule. It provides us a framework for functioning.
What does that mean in the real world? If you are standing in line at the Lion’s Den or Walgreens, and you are in a line with nine other people – properly spaced 6 feet apart – nine people in that line are experiencing significant angst because of the Great Disruptor called COVID-19.
President Trump called on the medical community to persevere, the business leaders to help meet the demand for medical supplies, and the rest of us to stay home. The object of staying home is to lessen the chances of coming in contact with the virus. If we don’t make that change, a sudden, swift increase in cases will overwhelm our medical resources. If we do, we can “flatten the curve” and slow the rise of cases to something our resources can manage.
In densely populated areas like New York, the urgency of this recommendation is clear. Hospitals are overwhelmed already. Residents are hunkered down and sheltering in place.
Those of us in smaller town USA do not directly experience the havoc wreaked by the Great Disruptor. A quick trip to restock food supplies seems like little risk. Yet each venture we take outside our home pushes that curve a little higher than the flat zone we seek.
So how do we conquer this home sequestering? Make a plan and own it! Our goal is to conquer the Great Disruptor.
First, we gave ourselves a timeout. For the first two weeks, we vegetated. We’ve eaten too many snacks and binge-watched mind-numbing movies before switching back to the news only to be overwhelmed by the frightening reports and returning to the streaming movies. We’ve slept more than usual. And now that we’ve completed Week 1 PSB (post Spring Break), we’ve begun to get our senses back. It’s time to get serious about the weeks ahead. We need to create and implement a survival plan.
Time for Creative Solutions
Great leaders know a flexible attitude is necessary, and their organizations are built for it. They change plans with the end in mind. And the path to the end is chunked into manageable, verifiable goals called steps. Each step moves us closer to the finish line. And summer. And the end of the Great Disruptor.
The steps are simple but oh so critical.
Launch your day the same way you did a month ago. Get out of bed at a respectable time. Wash your face and fix your hair. Put on your very best yoga pants. Resolve to be the best you on that video, so you aren’t the next viral Zoomer. That simple start to the day is just what the doctor (Dr. G, that is) ordered for the 86 percent of us who don’t like change and need the predictability of routine. And if you are that other 14 percent, then wear a party dress or mix-match your socks. Be as daring as you want to be in your hunkered-down day.
Next, get physical. Move. Groove. Do something that raises your heart rate but doesn’t put you at risk.
Graze at grazing time. Observe that standard meal schedule you followed a month ago. And work to keep it healthy if possible.
Engage your mind by doing your work, be it school-work or work-work. Watch your favorite shows or movies. Watch some news, but be careful not to overwhelm yourself with the negative.
Stay connected with people who are important to you. It’s easy with the gadgets we have now. One super useful technique is calling someone and leaving the line open even though you aren’t chatting. Hearing someone going about their day and knowing someone is hearing us is comforting. We don’t feel as alone. And when we know we are all in this together, it feels a little less ominous.
Finally, our community has lots of people resources who are available to help us. Should any of us begin to feel overwhelmed, reach out to a professor, or friend, or minister, or coworker. We’re all in this together. And together, we will defeat the Great Disruptor COVID-19.
Dr. Kimberley Gordon develops leaders and the organizations they serve through her work at the Center for Business and Professional Development at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith. Prior to joining academia, she held corporate and field positions in human resource and organizational development with a Fortune 100 company and has worked with domestic emerging leaders as well as ex-patriots in China, Brazil, Mexico, and Canada.
Dr. Gordon holds a Doctor of Education in Workforce Development Education from the University of Arkansas, and a Master of Science Degree in Ethics and Leadership and Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management, both from John Brown University. She holds accreditations from the Human Resource Certification Institute as a Senior Professional of Human Resources and the Society of Human Resource Management as a Senior Certified Professional and = is a certified life coach through the Institute for Motivational Living.
For more resources related to coping with COVID-19 and its effects, visit: https://campuslife.uafs.edu/services/health-center/covid19-resources