RESILIENCE IN THE MIDST OF THE COVID-19 CRISIS: Learning-The Other Curve to Consider

This is the fourth 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 rb@reneebranson.blog

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. 

Learning-The Other Curve to Consider

There are six domains of resilience that allow us to bounce forward and thrive in the face of adversity. One of these is the ability to learn and reason. For this purpose, I define reasoning as the ability to be resourceful, creative, and action oriented during crisis, challenge, or change. I have been so heartened to see how quickly and eagerly people have already begun to do this. Not only have people started adapting to the current situation, they are being generous and community-minded when it comes to sharing resources, ideas, life hacks, and tools. Teachers are flooding Facebook to offer help to parents who turned homeschool teachers overnight. Mutual Aid groups have popped up on social media to connect needs in the community with those who can help. Companies are offering online services for free for their customers and work from home capabilities for their employees. Restaurants are quickly shifting to delivery-based services. There are many times over the past several days when I have said to myself, “Wow…people are so smart, creative, and kind!” If there is hope to be found in this dark moment, this is where we can find it. 

Moments of stress can be an opportunity for growth. How can we increase our ability to reason and learn during this time of challenge? Here are four things that strengthen our reasoning: 

  1. A desire to learn. Be open, curious, and see things with a growth mindset. Set skepticism aside for a moment.
  2. Be adaptable. Be willing to be flexible and try something a new way—even when you might not see it as the ideal way. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good.
  3. Recognize opportunity. When we are curious and adaptable, we are more likely to notice new opportunities. This can be a time of great innovation. 
  4. Anticipate & plan for different outcomes. Admittedly, this is particularly hard right now. Things are changing fast. However, like a muscle, the more we practice and plan, the more agile we become at being responsive.

Being able to reason and think through our stress first requires us to regain our composure. In fact, composure and reasoning create a healthy feedback loop for our well-being. It allows us to relax, focus, and then think and act strategically.

When our resilient reasoning is strong, it leads us to be more resourceful. Resourcefulness means that we develop new ways to access information and solve problems in novel ways. 

Resilient Reasoning Practice

Consider a problem you are currently having because of the pandemic. Keep it to something defined and narrow. Instead of “our problem is we don’t know how to work remotely,” choose to focus on one aspect of the larger challenge. Perhaps it is, “how can we maintain collaboration during physical distancing?” Then: 

  1. Identify gaps. Decide on what it is you don’t know. Where are the gaps in your understanding or knowledge? Note: we can be defensive about not knowing something even on our best days. Remind yourself that it is ok to not know. This is new ground to cover. 
  2. Create a database. Even if that “database” is on pen and paper, list of all the resources you already know that could help solve the problem. This could include online tools, books, previous crisis plans, and other teams or companies similar to yours. 
  3. Check your network. Not your Internet network (although check those, too). Look into your network of people. Who can help and advise you on this problem? Has someone dealt with this particular problem before? None of us have had to work through a pandemic, but perhaps you know people who have had to work remotely during illness, or had to manage a team through an emotionally trying time. 
  4. Make unusual connections. Is there something that is being done in an entirely different industry that you find creative or innovative? Even if it doesn’t correlate to your challenge, sometimes immersing yourself in someone else’s creativity can spark your own. 

Growing in our problem solving skills and in our creativity might be the biggest silver lining in this rather dark cloud. I hope that you stay well and stay resilient. 

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