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Navigating thru Crisis & Chaos to Reclaim Your Center (Part 1 of 2)

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Gutiérrez recently stated: 

We are at war with a virus – and not winning it. …This war needs a war-time plan to fight it.”

His words war it took me back to October 6, 1973. It was a Saturday, the entire country was celebrating Yom Kippur, the highest holiest day in the Jewish Faith. Our elementary school had turned one of its rooms into a makeshift temple for the local congregation.  My neighbor, my younger sister and I, attended services just as a lot of the other kids did.  

It was just before 2:00 PM when we decided to go home.  We were just about a third of the way home when a sharp, loud siren cut through the silent air. Picture three little girls are running up the hill in panic. We were filled with fear and didn’t know what to do.  All we knew was that we wanted to get to a safe place. 

I’ll always remember how scared I was that day.  The feeling of fear mixed with confusion and anxiety. Yes, even as a little girl I was anxious because I had no idea what was happening. 

While that was not the only time I was in a challenging situation, it was so impactful since the adults around me couldn’t control things. I remember watching how different people handled the situation. Some better than others, yet many were lost because there were so many unknowns and they didn’t know what to expect.  

Today, the entire world is facing an unknown. We are at war with an invisible enemy.  Not knowing how to handle our daily lives and how to protect ourselves properly. Those conditions create stress leading the body to fight or flight reaction.  People will react differently. Some will experience more emotional impact than others.

First off, it’s important to state that having emotions is natural and feeling them during times of crisis is normal.  It’s normal to fear the unknown, it’s normal to feel stress and anxiety.  The question isn’t whether or not to feel, the question is who ultimately will win the battle. 

Do you let your feelings take over, or do you find a way to re-center yourself and regain control? 

 My vote, is for the latter.  My experience growing up in a war-torn country provided me with skills to do so.         I realized that there is a specific three-step strategy we must implement in order to re-center and re-group.

The Re-Center Strategy – ACCEPT – ADAPT – ADVANCE 

Let’s illustrate this thru an easy example.

 Imagine you’re driving to an important meeting, you left in plenty of time. Suddenly, traffic comes to a halt. You know you’re going to be late; you can’t change that. You have to ACCEPT and make peace with the current circumstances so you can rationally move to the next step. 

You also need to do is slow down and match the speed everyone else around you are driving in order not to get into an accident. That is when you ADAPT to the situation. Adapting allows you see things clearly. 

You look in the distance, to assess the situation. It appears the left lane is opening up just ahead and you can change lanes to keep moving forward. That is where you leverage the situation and ADVANCE.

When it comes to implementing the steps, it may not always be so easy. Humans have different coping mechanisms and different triggers. This is an opportunity to exercise your emotional Intelligence. In the second article in this series I will provide some practical tools you can use to implement the three-step strategy.  

Until then, be healthy and safe!


Author Bio:  Dr. Karen Jacobson is the Founder & CEO of Aligned Leadership Academy, working with organizations to develop leader and High-performance teams that are efficient, effective and engaged.