After 9/11, I remember many people feeling that there was no point to their day-to-day activities. Concerns that seemed so crucial a mere week or month before the towers fell now felt meaningless. The loss of lives and the loss of our assumed safety was shattering. Within four days of 9/11, my phone and inbox were flooded with inquiries for coaching. People felt life was short and unpredictable, and they would no longer tolerate living a life that ran them into the ground with little satisfaction besides a paycheck.
The COVID-19 disruption is very different. Where life stopped for the NY Metro area after 9/11, it is now stopped in most of the country and most places in the world. It’s a global pause.
It’s been an unpredictable, unprecedented stop to almost everything. Pollution has been reduced dramatically due to the halting of manufacturing and travel in the air and on the ground. People are hunkered down with their families or have more alone time than they ever bargained for. Buildings and streets are empty to the tune of a haunting silence.
We are keenly aware of the financial halt. So many jobs lost, so many bottom lines threatened, so many people feeling scared and despair setting in. No matter how badly we crave “normal,” we are still on pause.
WE ARE STILL ON PAUSE . . .
However, going back to normal is a misnomer. How long will it be until you are comfortable being in a theater, a sporting event, an office or a school? Lifting the shelter-in-place order does not change the realities of getting infected with or unknowingly carrying this virus.
So what are we left with? The greatest reorganization in most of our lifetimes.
How do we want to live? How do we want to care?
The skies are clear. Are we OK with picking up where we left off? If things continue as they were, it is likely we have less than ten years to save the planet. Our bosses never thought working from home could serve the mission and yet, isn’t everyone learning they can do quite a lot without being face-to-face? By now we know if we want to homeschool full time (probably not!). Sure, we want our kids to be happy and engaged, but did we really need to have every available time slot taken up by enriching activities? Books, puzzles, games, together time and family meals are pretty enriching, if you ask me. Do you really want to pick up where we left off, or are you ready to make a change?
The question this time, I think, is deeper than the one that arose from the 9/11 pause. People are not jumping into hyper-drive as they did after 9/11, and more people are questioning deeply as they sit in the pause. It’s been a prompt to examine what makes a life. How do we measure it? How would you like to measure it? The threat of terrorism is no small thing, but the threat to hundreds of thousands of lives has given us time to be and to think. That “itch” you may feel might be cabin fever, or it could be boredom, but in my experience, boredom is a prompt to create meaning. It’s not that you have nothing to DO that’s bothering you. It’s more about not trusting what’s shown up. It’s actually an opportunity to redirect your energy and attention.
The coaching clients that are showing up now are less panicked than those of September 2001. Feeling at the top of your game and itching for something else? Ready to stand up for what YOU want and make it a reality? Wondering how you got where you are and wanting to press reset? These are the scenarios rising to the top of awareness that are ready to be addressed.