Covid-19’s Silver Lining
You know the story of the boiling frog? If you don’t, it describes that when a frog is in pot of water and you raise the temperature of the water until it’s boiling, the frog will stay in it, until it dies.
For decades not just America, but the world has been in a pot of boiling water where humanity has been seduced away from thoughtfulness, reflectiveness, contemplation, emotional intimacy by the Sirens’ call of conspicuous consumption and gratuitous escapism. As a result, the boiling human race has gradually moved over to becoming a species of human doings instead of human beings.
In doing so, we have sacrificed joy for excitement, peace for exhaustion, emotional intimacy for sex, connection for activities, fulfilment for immediate gratification.
Before there was the Internet, before there was television, before there was radio, before there was even electricity, humans read. They read books, even long books. They concentrated on what they were reading. They thought about what they were reading. They talked to others about what they were reading. Even the US Constitution had Sections and Articles with Roman Numerals, not bullet points.
About ten years ago I was fortunate to have dinner with my late mentor and leadership thought leader, Warren Bennis, television icon, Norman Lear and Concord Record CEO, Glen Barros. At one point I asked Warren and Norman what they felt was the greatest danger to the world. They each replied with the same word, “Expediency.”
When I asked them to explain, they replied that when people are in a rush, they not only make mistakes and sometimes large ones, they also often miss out on what is most important in life.
What if we were to view the uninvited invasion of Covid-19 into our lives as a chance to hit “reflect” (on what’s most important vs. what is most expedient and least important), “reset” (our minds to desire quality vs. quantity, and deeper connectedness to others and ourselves) and then “refresh” (how we will then act vs. react in our lives).
What if we used this shut down and shut in time to read more, think more and connect more with others.
I can tell that I’m losing some of you attention challenged readers so let me leave you with a relationship intimacy tactic that will immediately change the excitement seeking, agitation, impatience, irritability between you and someone who is close to you and replace it with something different and hopefully so much better that both of you will feel the difference, like it and want more of it.
Text that person and say, “When you have a few minutes for a call, there’s something I would like to apologize to you for. BTW don’t get scared, it’s not something illegal, losing my job, cancer or having an affair.”
Usually that will intrigue the other person because unsolicited apologizes are very rare, which is a shame, because they are so special and powerful if you can offer a sincere one.
Then when you have them on a call say, “When I am behaving at my worst, how frustrated, upset and disappointed am I capable of making you feel?”
In all likelihood, they’ll be dumbfounded — and disarmed — and respond with, “Huh?” or “What?”
Then repeat, “Yes, when I am behaving at my worst, how frustrated, upset and disappointed am I capable of making you feel? That’s because I recently put myself in your shoes having to deal with me and I realized I can act awful with you and I wanted you to tell me about that, give me some examples, so that I can really make an effort to not do it anymore, because you deserve for me to treat you better.”
Then encourage them to tell you any and everything that you have done or do that frustrates, upsets and disappoints them. When they do, make sure to not become defensive or go on the attack back at them. Instead have them tell you more and give you specific examples. The more specific, the more it will help them get these suppressed and relationally harming feelings up, out and away. After they finish, say to them, “Look me in the eye,” and then look deeply in their eyes and say, “I’m sorry and I’m going to fix that.” But then make sure you do.
When you do that, they and you may not only re-experience the warm feelings underneath, you may both get lucky tonight.
That said, just like you, I wish Covid-19 had never happened and just like you I’m eager for us to be able to safely get through it and past it, but Covid-19’s silver lining may be an opportunity for us to connect more deeply to each other and ourselves.