By Cathy Rhodes, First Published April 2020
Our leaders tell us there will be no talk about how we might exit the lockdown because it will send “mixed messages”, distracting us from the need for social distancing.
No – mixed messages are telling us to keep away from each other, whilst standing next to your fellow cabinet ministers. Mixed messages are telling us to make only essential journeys, whilst prominent players in this crisis visit second homes at weekends. The message appears to be: “Do as we say, not as we do.”
Now, please don’t get me wrong – world leaders have an extraordinarily difficult task at hand. I admire their tenacity in trying to chart a course through this storm, by setting off in a sensible direction and adjusting the sails as winds dictate.
However, we need something that our leaders are not providing – the bigger picture “Why”. We get that people will die if we don’t stay in – and we are staying in. But now we need more – we need hope for the future, meaning in our current strife. A compelling vision of a brighter future we can all play our part in creating.
Our leaders can help make the present manageable by building bridges to this brighter future.
Auschwitz survivor Vicktor Frankl realised that if he were to survive the sadism and suffering of camp life, he had to find a greater purpose. He did this by picturing himself giving a lecture on the psychology of life in a concentration camp. Even though he wasn’t sure he would survive the camp, he had a powerful vision of the future that gave him hope.
In his book Man’s Search for Meaning, he wrote:
“We must never forget that we may also find meaning in life even when confronted with a hopeless situation.”
For most of us, life in lockdown is a far cry from the terrible suffering of holocaust victims. However, we too need to find meaning in our current situation – a sense of hope for the future. So far, all we seem to hear is doom and gloom – dire economic predictions, unemployment and poverty.
How about we paint a picture of a possible future driven by positive change? Will more flexible working provide the opportunity for a richer family life? More time to pursue personal passions? Will we keep in touch more regularly with loved ones, now we have finally mastered FaceTime? Will we continue to look out for each other, with our rediscovered sense of community? And will we redouble our efforts to reduce carbon emissions, as we have been reminded of the majesty our planet as we have allowed her to quietly rejuvenate?
For my part, I sincerely hope so.
Leaders, we thank you for your forbearance, tenacity and sheer dogged determination to overcome. Paint a rich, inspirational picture of the future and we will lock arms behind you! And we may well also forgive the odd fracturing of the new rules.
Do you need support in leading your team through this extraordinary period? We would be delighted to help! Call Cathy on 07947 465 190 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.