Growth Opportunities in the Time of Coronavirus

Times are tough. Lockdowns and quarantines have us shut up inside our homes. We can't do normal social things we used to do all the time.

Some of us are shut up with the other people in our family. Others are all alone. Either way, it's a challenge. One mom emerged from a teleconference to discover her son had cut up a lizard with her favorite scissors. He left the pieces on the kitchen counter.

There's more serious stuff, too. There's vanishing cash flow. We think about the virus. We worry about loved ones. We have no idea what's next. But there is good news.

Good News: This Is A Great Growth Opportunity

Tough times are the times when we're most likely to grow. They are "crucible" experiences. Warren Bennis and Robert Thomas created the term and describe it this way:

"We came to call the experiences that shape leaders "crucibles," and for the leaders we interviewed, the crucible experience was a trial and a test, a point of deep self-reflection that challenged them to step up and be someone or do something they'd never been or done before."

We're in an in-between stage. We're not sure what's next. Anthropologists have a term for that. It's "liminality." It's the disorientation that occurs in the middle of a rite of passage. That's where we are.

Our normal patterns have been disrupted. This is not normal time anymore. I like to think of it as enchanted time. It’s like the time when the hero of the hero's journey enters the enchanted forest. The hero meets test after test, changing in the process. Your challenge is to be the hero.

Do Something Different

Don't drift along, pushed this way and that by the winds of change. Take control of some of the change yourself.

Do a project that's been waiting for your attention, maybe one you've been putting off. Read a book you've always wanted to read. Take a course and learn something new. Develop some new skills.

Set Yourself Up to Get Good Ideas

You want the best ideas you can get to face whatever's ahead. We know how you can get them.

Start by not concentrating. You’re more creative when you’re playful and relaxed.

Do something that engages your body, but leaves your mind free to roam. Take a walk. Sit quietly in a chair. Do a little housework. Weed the garden.

When you do that, you've created a free-range mind. It's going to throw up all kinds of ideas at you. That's good. But you'd better capture them if you want to be able to make use of them. Use a notebook, index cards, or something digital.

Make Time for Reflection

Whatever comes next, the challenges and opportunities will be different. The way you get ready to face them is to reflect on your life, your strengths, your relationships, and your dreams.

Set aside time to be by yourself. Think, speculate, dream.

Many people find that a journal is a great aid to this kind of thinking. Use it as a place to capture your reflections. Use it as a place to collect your good ideas.

Now for The Bad News

The bad news is that it's easy not to do any of this. Human beings are great at choosing the easy course rather than the right course. So, you're going to need a little willpower and discipline. Remember this: just getting through means not getting better.

What to Do Now

Don't let this enchanted time of opportunity go to waste. Commit to using this time of crisis to grow. Then, take the first step, whatever that is.

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