Responding to the New Normal

As we navigate this “new normal”, we have witnessed every society, community, and institution across the globe face unprecedented challenges. An invasive pandemic is filling the footprints of every walk of life and leaving behind quarantined cities, shelter in place orders, and social distancing mandates. This invisible enemy is wreaking havoc on our livelihoods and its boundless domain foments great anxiety across our borders. The challenges stemming from this pandemic span the micro and macro levels of our lives. Expectedly, we are concerned for the health of our loved ones, but we’ve also seen the wide-ranging impacts of the rising unemployment rate as the world economy spirals into descent. We must give these challenges our due attention, but it is vital that we remain alert as to not be ambushed by yet another invisible foe that looms in our midst.

Between those very walls of our homes that shelter us from the COVID-19 battlegrounds, we find another familiar threat that was once more manageable while operating in our routines of yesterday. Complacency, this old enemy of ours, thrives in this new normal plagued with instability and uncertainty. It lures us into its cocoon of comfort through its deceptions and hinders us from achieving personal and professional excellence. As you read on, you will find several strategies that can help you counter the attacks of complacency in your lives and keep you on track to reaching your goals, but let us first take a deeper look into why we are more susceptible to succumbing to a complacent lifestyle amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

During this period of increased telework, remote learning, and social distancing, our ability and duty to be leaders at home and work are challenged by this superficial appeal of complacency. Its tactics, rather deft and swift, seek to demotivate, stagnate, and diminish our lives to the mere ordinary. More purposeless hours at home often equate to more hours resisting the good of ourselves, our loved ones, peers, and teams. As family members and professionals, we should have developed good habits – or virtues, if I may – in our respective communities over the years, but unwittingly, we have become accustomed to the environmental “bumpers” that have aided our growth in discipline. When these bumpers are disengaged and variability is introduced into the equation, our good habits may soon find the gutter if we are not proactive.

So how can we prevent complacency from stalling our hard-earned progress? Firstly, revisit your personal goals and develop a road map with the understanding that you are operating in a new normal. If the grips of complacency are suffocating, think of small, practical ways to strengthen your self-discipline in pursuit of goal achievement. Bring purpose back to those purposeless hours. Replace 20 minutes of Instagram scrolling with 20 minutes of reading a leadership book or checking in with a teammate. Caution: Likened to the rungs of a ladder, if we take too ambitious of steps when building our self-discipline, be prepared to fall.

Secondly, as our nation urges us to work in solidarity to combat the ongoing pandemic, I’d like to bring your attention to one of its key tenets: togetherness. Complacency thrives in isolation and dies in company. While we are creating physical boundaries between ourselves and our communities, it is imperative that we not isolate from their influences, accountability, creativity, and their companionship. We all understand the impacts isolation can have on our mental, emotional, and spiritual equilibriums, so it is incumbent on us to adopt creative ways to safely connect with our contemporaries and teams during this time.

Lastly, to elaborate on an earlier point, we must find someone to hold us accountable as we adapt to the new normal. Whether this is a spouse, friend, mentor, or colleague, we should ask someone who knows our abilities and limitations and is willing to engage in difficult conversations when necessary. While we are responsible for achieving our personal and professional goals, our “accountability partner” will undeniably encourage and challenge us along the journey. Set aside time weekly to discuss progress, frustrations, opportunities, and next steps on your road map with your partner – and don’t be shy; return the favor by offering them words of wisdom and accountability to ensure bi-directional growth.

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” This new global climate has precipitated dynamic and unique challenges for us all, but we must rise to the occasion to cultivate the grit, tenacity, and discipline commensurate with the demands of leadership. The platitude above, though trite and worn, is often exemplified by those leaders we aspire to emulate. Complacency never begets excellence. Ultimately as leaders, we will be defined by how we respond in the face of adversity, challenge that of which is unchallenged, overcome those falsehoods of complacency, and practice the art of humility. Let us begin.

Connor Xavios is an Operational Planner at Sawdey Solutions Services. He is a 2020 DCA Associate.