Leadership Lessons from Being Sick

Last week the Covid bug finally got me. It came on sudden and took me OUT of commission for FIVE solid days.

For a few days I had chills, had a fever, was achey all over. Then I was congested and SUPER tired. I had enough energy to warm up some food, take my vitamins, and go back to watching a show before passing out for a couple hours. But after 5 days of being down for the count and 3 more recuperating, I officially tested negative. I am grateful to have beat Covid's ass.

Did having Covid suck? Yes. Was it the sickest I'd ever been? No.

Was having Covid scary? ONLY IF I LET IT.

With all the fear and uncertainty that comes with a massive outbreak -- the psychosis-inducing news coverage, the ticker of deaths, the endless dire warnings -- it can be easy to let your mind wonder to worse case scenarios -- I had asthma as a kid, what if my lungs can't take it? -- What if I don't realize how bad it is till it's too late?

What if? WHAT if? WHAT IF?!

But I took those thoughts captive as soon as they entered my mind.

I knew the spiral of negative thoughts could do FAR more harm than good. Becoming hyper-fearful induces a stress response, which increases my adrenal response, quickens my heart rate, and makes my breathing more shallow (which is the opposite of what you want your breathing to be when fighting an infection that attacks the lungs).

The asthma thought entered my mind Saturday morning. I had a brief spike of worry jolt across my heart, but I immediately knew it was a lie.

And I knew how to handle it...

With any fear, you HAVE ask the fear questions -- is this true? what evidence to the contrary is there?

Here were the facts:

So clearly the veracity of the FEAR was on SHAKY GROUND.

There was also immediate answers to my fear -- I could breathe massive diaphragmatic breaths in through my nose, hold it for 6 seconds, exhale as much and as hard as I could, hold NO oxygen for at least 6 seconds, before inhaling again.

The fear of the worse case scenario could be dismissed, but I just had to take a step back, not get wrapped up in the fear, analyze the evidence, and pursue the proper course of action (not panic, keep recovering).

This is a crucial skill and I encourage you to put it in to practice.

Next time fear tries to bind you down, look it in the eyes and ask it questions.

Here are some common fears

Fear of rejection -- If I say what I really want, then everyone will leave me. If I reach out to that crush, she'll reject me. If I tell my friends I struggle with an addiction, they'll abandon me.

Fear of failure -- If I start this project, it'll just end up as a bust. If I give it my all, I'll just be disappointed when it doesn't work out.

Fear of judgment -- I won't say anything, I don't want to rock the boat and have everyone be mad at me. If I say the wrong thing, people will think I'm an idiot -- I'll just stay quiet.

Will those things really happen? Ask yourself: will your friends abandon you for admitting a struggle? will your family be upset with you for pursuing your dream? do you really want to be friends with people who cause problems? will COVID kill you because you had asthma as a kid?

Ask those questions, its crucial. Stay calm, analyze the evidence, and pursue a course of action that leads to success.

It's what good leaders do -- field commanders, corporate executives, moms and dads, and yes, YOU as you lead yourself in your life.


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