How to Stand in a Storm

Atli Phatudi

I recently had a session with my career coach. Our meetings often have a straight-forward agenda. This one in particular was to talk about how to highlight my leadership abilities in my upcoming interviews.

But, as usual, this session would be one where we choose to meander our way around this agenda and take the scenic, reflective route instead.

She’d let me give an account of how I was feeling, what I’d been up to since we last spoke, and would then proceed to respond with a series of questions that would kick-off our hour-long session.

This session, however, was rather different! It had been almost four weeks since the COVID-19 movement restrictions in France began and we both needed to check in.

We proceeded to share how we were feeling. I told her how the first few days of the isolation were filled with anxiety, with fear and with confusion about what I was supposed to do next if anything at all. I felt slightly paralysed.

“Paralysed?” She stuck on that word and as expected, she went on to ask two questions I thought are worthy of sharing: How are you preparing yourself for the world post-crisis? How will you change over this period?

Over the last few weeks I’d been keeping my sanity through morning meditations, more frequent calls with my friends and family and by being more mindful with my daily cooking. Before the isolation, I felt guilty about not devoting enough time to these activities and it was surprising to see how I was now finding them essential to each day.

In a way, I felt like these practices were helping me stay anchored despite the current whirlwind of anxiety and fear.

In crisis, people often rush to move and do and act. The bizarreness of this crisis, though, is that it has severely restricted our ability to move. So in this dilemma, we have the chance to stop and observe.

Once this situation comes to an end, and we are able to move and do again, I hope that we’ll take time to just stand and be more often; to be better anchored. I hope we will all show up and stand differently in this new reality.

History is filled with examples of how future leaders were revealed in times of crisis. Let's let that be the proverbial silver lining in this situation and choose to observe how we act and stand. I hope that we’ll take this opportunity and emerge as more grounded, mindful leaders.