Frozen by Uncertainty

By the end of May, all 50 states had begun easing the restrictions put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19. In many places now, people can go back to restaurants and retail stores – yet not everyone is ready to venture out. Businesses are reopening – yet not all are confident in the steps to recovery. Even people who thrived in the chaotic early days of the crisis may be stuck in suspended animation, unable to move forward as they wonder, “What Now?” 

It’s not all that surprising, given the sudden and severe disruption to our lives. The pandemic plunged us into a time of health concerns and economic difficulties. Hard on the heels of the virus came shock, pain, and social unrest. So naturally, we’re feeling stress. And that stress is causing anxiety. And that anxiety may be generating unproductive thoughts of all the things that might go wrong in the future. 

But as leaders, we don’t have the luxury of treading water while we wait for the tide to change. The good news is that even when we can’t see the horizon ahead, and we’re anxious or just plain scared, we can still find a way to lead. Here’s how. 

Face Your Fears. It may be uncomfortable, but this is a time to acknowledge what you’re feeling instead of trying to push through. When you fight your fears, they fight back – and keep you stuck in place.

Manage Stress. It’s hard to manage yourself and make good decisions when you’re sleep deprived and overworked. Take care of yourself and your habits and you might find it changes your outlook. 

Take Small Steps. If you’re afraid of taking a big step, take a small one. This isn’t a time for five-year plans, but it isn’t a time for spinning your wheels, either. Inertia is often riskier than action. 

Talk to Someone. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, shine a light on your situation by talking to someone you trust. Ask them for a reality check, draw on their expertise, and focus your thoughts outward. 

Great leaders aren’t free from fear – they’re able to move forward in spite of it. If you feel locked in a cycle of uncertainty, these steps will help you regather your strength so you can move yourself and your team from “What Now” to “What’s Next.”



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