I wouldn’t say I’m a morning person, but I do have a very consistent morning schedule. Each day I set my alarm for 5:45 and wake up promptly to the dulcet tones of my alarm clock gently beckoning me toward endless possibilities… before invariably pressing “snooze” once or twice and actually waking up closer to 6:15. When I do get up, like any good millennial, the first thing I do is roll over and check my phone. I unlock my device and go straight to my New York Times app to read the news.
Starting in mid-March, my skim of the morning news transformed from trying to stay abreast of relevant political, social, and sports related happenings and became a depressing trudge through trauma and terror. Each day, I was bombarded with another volley of the tragic details surrounding the pandemic, the personal and corporate disruption it has caused, and the catastrophic ruin it has brought to economy and our sense of safety. My morning check-ins turned into hourly examinations as I tried to remain stoic in the face of this unprecedented horror, but like so many others, it soon became too much to handle and the fear started to creep in.
One night, as I sat across from my partner and enjoyed a wonderful home-cooked meal (something we rarely did before all this started) this growing fear and stress led to the genesis of an idea. We would no longer empower the pandemic by expressing our sorrow or despair during this climate, no more negatives at all, in fact. Instead, for the rest of the night we would only share positives that came from our new quarantine-necessitated routine.
We spent the next hour talking about all of the silver linings and bright spots we had been fortunate enough to experience in this new normal that we wouldn’t have had a chance to encounter otherwise. We smiled about having more time with each other and our dog-child Leo, purchasing and enjoying a new spin-bike for the home gym, and all of the great recipes we had tried. The celebration of these unexpected joys shed light on a new perspective of which to view the pandemic through.
After that night and the positive mood shift that it brought me, I suggested the idea to the rest of the Dotted Line team and extended it to our clients and others in our network as well, hoping that if it could provide some solace, even for a moment, it would be worth it. The responses that came back were awesome.
“I’m most appreciative of this feeling that we’ve gone back to a simpler time where we value community — albeit socially distanced. My kids are spending their afternoons outside, right until the last second before dinner is served. It’s reminding me of the power of a strong network and the emotional relief it provides.”
“I’m spending less money and time on frivolous things. I’ve found joy in the simple things in and around my home — like sitting in the sun on my patio, enjoying nighttime fires, playing worship music, and having church outside!”
“Having more time to just slow down. I’m no longer rushing from one thing to the next. I’ve started to enjoy running again and have been getting to know my neighbors better.”
“I’ve been able to connect more with friends who I otherwise wouldn’t have, via FaceTime dates. Life can get so busy and it’s rare that we slow down, so it’s been nice to refocus on connecting with friends.”
“I have seen and talked to many neighbors I never knew in the 12 years I have lived in my house… I have had some of the best most open conversations with other small business owners that I would not have otherwise had. And, I have seen and experienced people pulling together to help one another in meaningful ways.”
“My father-in-law keeps sheepishly telling me that he is going to miss his commute to work. He works in California and his drive is now half as long as it used to be.”
All of these silver linings are individual to those who found them, but many contain parallels and describe an enhanced sense of community, camaraderie, self-care.
We all want to return to a time that feels a bit more normal – but meanwhile our team at Dotted Line is taking solace in this brilliant sense of community and compassion that has developed as a result of this pervasive darkness. To truly understand this moment, in all its complexity, we owe it to ourselves to celebrate our silver linings, and where appropriate, work towards incorporating them into the new normal that’s sure to come. Now’s the time to take stock, before our busy lives begin to pick back up. Once we emerge from this challenging environment, what souvenirs will you and your organization choose to carry with you?
Tom is a dedicated and invested strategist who believes full immersion into a client’s business is the best way to make the greatest impact. When not assisting our partners navigate problems big and small, you’ll either find Tom nose-deep in a book or suffering through a love/hate relationship with the gym.