Common sense during this current pandemic isn’t all that common… in fact it’s seemingly almost non-existent!
Also screeching in frighteningly low on the current human behavioural scoreboard are empathy, selflessness, compassion, genuine care and kindness.
But hold on for just a second…
Perhaps that’s the actual pandemic?!
We have lost our humanity!
I say this cautiously and with a certain amount of generalization because of course we have seen many amazing displays of people genuinely caring, putting others first, doing the right thing… I could go on. There are undoubtedly many incredible people in the world.
And, we have seen as many if not even more displays of really bad humaning. Yes, really bad humaning…
Encyclopedia Britannica defines ‘Human being’ as a culture-bearing primate classified in the genus Homo, especially the species H. sapiens.
Human beings are anatomically similar and related to the great apes but are distinguished by a more highly developed brain and a resultant capacity for articulate speech and abstract reasoning…
…abstract reasoning being our ability to expediently reason with information to solve new, unfamiliar problems without any prior knowledge and the solutions generated are usually beyond the most obvious – i.e. expansive.
For comparison it is useful to consider abstract reasoning as opposite to concrete reasoning which involves working with literal information that’s right in front of us, and not expanding our thinking beyond this – i.e. limited.
So where is the abstract reasoning in our current human experience?
I’ve largely avoided getting sucked into the wild debates re the various theories regarding Covid 19, why it’s happening, whose behind it, is it real or all a big hoax etc.
My choosing this approach is simply because I have absolutely no clue as to how to answer these questions, and I have much better ways to invest my time than spending countless days online ‘researching’ to source evidence to validate my hypothesis (or those that I’m possibly blindly choosing to buy into).
I have learnt to be okay with not having answers to these questions, and I am suggesting that so perhaps should you.
I have observed people challenge each other’s thinking incessantly, I have witnessed friends ‘unfriend’ themselves and I have seen families rip themselves apart in the adamant and relentless pursuit of being right about being right.
But for what? The satisfaction of a shallow ego ‘victory’?
As a society we have all but lost our way.
Is it really about one or the other, my view or your view, medical science or fight for freedom… or is it about connecting, collaborating, applying abstract reasoning on a day to day and situation to situation basis, and finding new solutions to new previously unimagined challenges?
Is Covid 19 not a reason?… a reason to evolve, to get uncomfortable, to be curious, to try things that we haven’t attempted before, to do things that we’ve never done, to shift our perspective?
Is it not a compellingly good reason to human better?!
When we bring this conversation out of the broader narrative into our day to day reality, most of us are waking up in the mornings in these early days of 2021 and needing to go to work. This may mean a short walk from the bedroom to the study or makeshift home office in the new remote working reality that we face, or it might mean actually traveling to a work location away from home.
Irrespective of whether we are currently pyjama bottom wearing Zoom jockeys or masked up office attendees we need to carry on, we need to keep moving forward. That which does not move atrophies, it wastes away… and wasting away is certainly not conducive to progress.
In a world so full of uncertainty we need to find and maintain some certainty, a behavioural and thinking strategy for better humaning… a trusted set of go-to’s that keep us aligned, motivated and energised when the wobblies feel like they’re settling in.
I have explored many of my own strategies during these past months and have also learnt from other people how they have created their own ways of progressing in their world of work (and in their lives). I have listed below 8 key focus points that have worked extremely well for me :
- Be in action :
You don’t need to wait for permission to do something meaningful.
I see way too many people stuck in anxious procrastination, desperately waiting for something to happen that will improve their situation or waiting for authorization. A very effective way to shift anxiety is to do something, make a decision, experience taking back some control and influence over your situation however small that action may be. Start small and build from there.
2. Measure impact :
Clocking long hours is not a winning tactic but rather a fast-lane to burnout. Rather be measuring the actual impact of meaningful time spent, the return on time investment, the relevant moving of the dial. Do this for both yourself and others, and if the desired impact isn’t being achieved change how the time spent is being utilized… but don’t simply extend the duration of time spent and hope for the best. Hope is not a strategy.
3. Find certainty :
It’s so easy to get caught up in the collective wave of uncertainty, and to forget those things that we can actually be sure of. I find assessing and acknowledging what I know to be true and consistent gives me a powerful footing from which to make decisions, and also gives me more comfort to practice flexibility in the areas that I don’t currently have certainty.
4. Add value :
In a world where so much value is being lost in so many different ways, it stands to good reason that people who are able to find ways to bring value to others will have an edge and better sustainability. And, if you have value to add let people know about it… this is not a time for meek silence, but rather a time for humble yet confident sharing.
5. Be adaptable :
If the environment changes so must the strategy. Be observant, be curious, and do not get caught in the old story of “this is how we’ve always done it.” Experiment, learn, iterate constantly to suit the current reality.
6. Care! :
It’s a safe assumption that many if not most people are having a very tough time at the moment. I have found that just taking that extra minute to be empathetic, to show people that they genuinely matter, and to demonstrate compassion is a really small gesture that has a huge impact.
Also, demonstrate care towards yourself… self nurturing is critical to progress, both physical, mental and emotional. You cannot give what you do not have.
These six are just a favorite few of the areas of focus that I have applied myself to consistently, yet even just six can at times seem overwhelming. My method for managing the overwhelm is to pick one per day that I dial up my intention and attention on even more. I don’t forget about the others, but I carry that one at the front of my mind for the day. I find that this helps me to build the muscle and also heighten my awareness of the impact of focusing on this one.
Consistency is also key, do it every single day and build the habit.
And finally and hugely importantly, don’t lose the lessons… we are learning constantly in this new human experience, and for me possibly one of the biggest learnings is that there is seemingly no normal to go back to.
But maybe the ‘normal’ we had was a big part of the problem.
Be in this one day at a time.
Be moving forward always.
Be human… be an even better human.