How to manage oneself within the Covid-19´s uncertainty
Updated: Mar 26, 2020
What I have learnt during 60 days of captivity by accepting uncertainty
That day at 7am when I lost control
Seven years ago, during some vacations perfectly planned in Africa with my brother and his family, on that morning of 19th February 2013 at 7am, I passed in a lapse of seconds from my so called “normality”, with all my resources (wallet, cell phone..) to find myself many hours after in a tiny space of 15m2 lost in the middle of nowhere, all my bearings had fallen away.
Everything was cahos around us but we were alive
I was abducted together with my brother and his family by the most dangerous terrorist´s group in the world: Boko Haram and remained during 60 days in captivity under very extreme conditions in Northern Nigeria.
Within minutes, I went from getting full control as a co-pilot in a car with the air conditioning to being caught between two armed men on a motorcycle speeding through the desert in the far north of Nigeria.
Yet, when all my periods had collapsed, I clung with all my strength to the belt of the man who was driving, simply because I wanted to avoid falling off it, simply because that was the only thing that mattered in that moment.
Having spent two months in an uncertain and adverse environment, I learnt a lot (connecting my 13 years of professional experience and the power of the experience) and which I now share in a conference and customized workshop with any kind of organization and industries.
COVID-19: A new reality, our new reality
For the past few days, we have been thrown into a violent reality, this COVID-19 virus that seemed so far away months ago when it was detected in a small market in China, suddenly became a reality, our new reality.
Some of you accept it, few may have anticipated it and others are downplaying what is happening thinking it's similar to a simple flue, probably for fear of acknowledging that something external has come to disrupt our normality. And this is normal. We have a different behavior in front of the unknown, all of them are valid…
Uncertainty pushes us into an environment where we no longer control the variables: time, solutions. Despite all the technology we realize something bigger gets expanded at a high speed.
The cause-and-effect relationship that we use on daily basis does not longer work, it is not anymore a question of probability as #PhilippeSilberzahn mentions it but of too many variables over which we no longer have full control.
These are some of the lessons I have learned in the face of uncertainty during my 60´s days captivity and that today I'm sharing with you:
1. Recognizing that normality has changed
Yes, the environment has changed, and the first thing is to recognize it. It will take you time and this is normal.
I recall our first night of captivity , where I knew that whatever would happen, tomorrow would be different because around me except my family, all was different: the space, the captors, total lack of movement, lack of food and water.
Without accepting it, you can’t adapt to the new environment, you can´t tap into your hidden strength and use and share them with the people who are close to you.
Be aware that in the new reality your rules need to change: what was true last week does not work anymore, and for that you need to change your lens regarding the external environment.
2. Looking for a why will not help you, better focus on the WHAT and the HOW
You can try to look for all the whys and wherefores, you will never get an answer on why this is happening. There are so many causes, you lose your time.
I recall those days of captivity where I started to ask me so many why:
Why me, why now, why here…. The more why, the less answer…
The real question is how I will adapt to this environment and above all, what will I learn from it ? for that we need to operate a change.
3. Take some distance after observing the new reality in order to focus on what you can still do
After observing the new reality, it is essential to take a step back, to go back to the perspective I want to have, the information I’m looking for, and above all, what is stable when around me everything has moved.
I recall when I decided after week of resistance against the captivity, to operate a change, suddenly because I wanted to see the light, everything started to change, instead of seeing obstacles, I started to identify options, what #benjaminzander would call in his amazing book, #Theartofthepossibility
If you decide to see opportunities, then you will be able to capture any positive signal around you such as I see neighbors i never saw before, or I have been able to follow routine this morning. Small things are key to let you see the “positive” in an environment that is by principle adverse and unknown.
Uncertainty is the new certainty
As I speak, measures have been taken, a new reality has begun.
Since this Monday, universities and schools are closed, many companies have ordered their employees to work from home, some of them were used to it and it is a matter of routine, but others have been forced to face the wall of the new reality and to change because they had no choice, finally others are thinking about it.
No one can know what might happen, one can imagine all the scenarios from the most conservative to the most extreme.
But in the face of this uncertainty, the real questions are how:
Step back and relate to our ability to move forward in this new reality
Establish a space of trust that combines pragmatism and empathy with each other: a sens of community despite social distance
Define new rules, try new experiences, dare what you have never dared to do, maybe because in the end you have nothing to lose and a lot to win
I’ll end up with this quote in order to motivate each of you to open new doors, put on the table new options, creating new solutions…
When nothing is certain, everything is possible
Photo credit: Jakub Kriz on Unsplash