RESILIENCE IN THE MIDST OF THE COVID-19 CRISIS: Maintaining and Conveying Grounded Optimism

This is the third piece in an ongoing series on topics relating to how we cope personally and collectively in the midst of this health crisis. For questions, topic suggestions, resources, or other, please feel free to reach me at

I will also be holding a FB Live each day that I post an update around 3pm EST on my Resilient.Bounty page. This will be a brief 10-15 minute opportunity to discuss the issue, connect with others, and get support. 

Optimism is often hardest to grasp during times when it is most needed. Simply chiming in with a “we need to stay optimistic, everyone!” has about the same success rate as telling someone to “calm down”: zero. What we can focus on is a grounded optimism. This optimism is not the same thing as cheerfulness, so we can toss out the rose-colored glasses, Pollyanna chipper-ness, and the “Don’t worry, be happy” plastic smiles. It’s ok to feel confused, scared, sad, and just plain angry. Grounded optimism allows us to feel however we are feeling. This fact is important for you to know and important for the people you may lead and work with to know. Grounded optimism is the belief that despite the current crisis, three things are true: 

This is not permanent.

While it is true that we do not know the timeline of the crisis we are in, we do know that there will be a point where the crisis peaks and then declines. Could there be a new normal? Yes. But we will not live in a constant state of pandemic. Conversations that help us look beyond the current crisis could include: What are we learning about who we are as a company/firm/team during this time that will make us stronger? What are we doing really well right now that could apply to something different later? How do we want things to look when we get to the other side of this? Moments like this are a crucible; under the intense heat of crisis, new creations, innovations, and deeper relationships can emerge. 

This is not pervasive.

It sure feels like it impacts every single thing, doesn’t it? This has temporarily changed how we work, socialize, communicate, and even grocery shop. It is so important to find even small parts of our life that are not negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Make a list (both individually and as a work team) of the areas that are not impacted or may even provide new opportunities. Some examples:  

Work Life                                                        

  • Hold team meetings at same time as usual even if through Zoom or teleconference.
  • Read the articles or research that you’ve been archiving under “read later.” 
  • Continue to note progress being made in projects even if the timeline is disrupted.
  • Find creative ways to connect with colleagues in the absence of “water cooler” conversation. 

Personal Life

  • Keep the same home routine as much as possible (waking and bedtime, meal time, etc).
  • Get outside. During social distancing or even self-isolation, take some time to get out in your yard, enjoy a walk or hike, and take note of the natural world around you. It can be comforting to know that this pandemic does not impact the natural rhythm of the day and the seasons.
  •  Continue to invest in your relationships. Yes, it might look differently right now, but continue to call friends or FaceTime with distant family. For the family you have under your roof, connect more face-to-face. Don’t retreat to separate corners with Netflix the entire time. 

This is not personal.

This is not happening because of you (obviously), nor is it happening solely to you. We truly are in the same boat together. Or, perhaps, in separate, but identical boats more than six feet apart, but in the same ocean. While the pessimist might say misery loves company, the grounded optimist says we are happier when we feel we are not alone. We share a common goal to help each other get through this trial safely, with good health and a stronger community. 

Continue to take care of yourselves and each other. Stay resilient. 

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