Once when I was working on campus, we had a substantial reorganization that took most people by surprise. The realignment was announced as a fait accompli and even those affected were told simultaneously when the whole campus received notification. It rocked my world. I likened it to an earthquake where even when it is over you never quite feel the same level of stability. It was always in the back of my mind that the fault lines could open again.

I anticipate that many will feel this way post-COVID. Like after 9-11, we have lost the collective sense of normalcy and a sense of routine that we could count on. As a result, it may be hard to think long-term or we could find ourselves adding asterisks to all of our plans (“We’ll see you at Christmas if we’re able,” or “I hope to go to Europe next summer if it’s safe.”). The uncertainty leads to a perpetual state of tension and even fear.

Yes, the world is a different place than it was a few months ago. Yes, change happened at a breathtaking pace and most of us did not see the magnitude of what was coming. And, like those living in cities on literal fault lines, we must learn to move forward and live without an impending sense of doom.

Take the presence of potential danger seriously. Put policies in place that help to reinforce strength. Make preparations and safety plans. Listen to warnings and be prepared to respond quickly. Cultivate a mindset that is adaptable to change. But remember, even though thousands are impacted when earthquakes upend their city, few ultimately die from them. Keep things in perspective.

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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