Last year I was consulting with MD Anderson Cancer Center about best practices for supporting people newly diagnosed with cancer, before they have a treatment plan in place. Many of these patients (and their loved ones) were terribly frightened and had in common several very fundamental “survival” questions: Am I going to die? How will I get through this? How will I pay for everything? What do I tell people? 
With a new cancer diagnosis, the fear and uncertainty can be overwhelming. Lots of people totally shut down. Yet, with some passing of time and while taking necessary action to deal with their situation, some can step back and see things from a broader perspective that can greatly reduce stress and even bring in equanimity. 
We are asking similar “survival” questions now. I invite you to step back and see this coronavirus pandemic from a broader perspective, as we collectively work toward creating a new normal.

What the coronavirus does to us

A crisis like this coronavirus pandemic affects us in many ways, and not all are bad. You may know that the Chinese symbol for “crisis” is composed of two characters. One means danger, one means opportunity. Take stock of both these aspects, and think about how we are all affected. In other words, what is the virus doing to us? Here’s a starting point. Notice which resonate with you and maybe even uplift you.

  1. It humbles us.
  2. It equalizes us.
  3. It unifies us.
  4. It connects us.
  5. It focuses us.
  6. It scares us.
  7. It panics us.
  8. It overwhelms us.
  9. It sickens us.
  10. It kills us.
  11. It emboldens us.
  12. It inspires us.
  13. It ignites us.
  14. It opens us.
  15. It heals us.

What the coronavirus does for leaders

The coronavirus invites us to step up our game in all areas of life, including leadership. In some capacity you are a leader. We all are, for we all lead our own lives. As a leader, you need to decide and take action on behalf of yourself and those you lead. Which raises the question, what does the virus do for leaders? Here are ten effects that I see. Which are you experiencing?

  1. It clarifies priorities.
  2. It forces hard choices.
  3. It creates uncertainty.
  4. It requires presence.
  5. It invites surrender.
  6. It accelerates innovation.
  7. It inspires collaboration.
  8. It fosters belonging.
  9. It presents opportunity.
  10. It calls for strong leadership.

How the coronavirus makes us be different

Most fundamentally, the virus changes how we show up, how we are being in each moment. When we focus on the opportunity aspect of the crisis, we ask how the coronavirus can change us for the good. Here are seven ways it can make us be better. Consider which you are noticing, feeling, and liking.

  1. It makes us live right here, right now.
  2. It makes us vulnerable.
  3. It makes us authentic.
  4. It makes us less arrogant.
  5. It makes us find hope.
  6. It makes us appreciate the good.
  7. It makes us proud of humanity.

Like a cancer diagnosis, this virus is a huge wake-up call. Yes, it does cause sickness and death and can scare the hell out of us. It also causes unity and ultimately healing and can bring out our angels. 
Even with all the unknowns, may you now choose to feel and celebrate the angel in you and in all of us. May you grow in strength and courage as you see the positives, keep physical distancing, and enhance social closening!

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