The Tension and the Squeeze

What do I mean by the tension and the squeeze? Apparently a quick fix to the fallout from the COVID-19 health crisis was only in our dreams. The impact it has had on our lives and the economy is bigger than we first imagined. We need lots of things right now, at work and at home, but the short list is: emotional and physical endurance, check-in and connection, compassion, clarity, sound strategies. And we need each other, because the new normal on the horizon remains uncertain.

Endurance: “Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.”

Some quick strategies for your game plan...

Facing this crisis is tough, because you, nor anyone else has ever experienced it before. Your “thinking brain” can’t anticipate how things will work out. 

You need endurance for the long haul, because, one thing is certain, all human beings, collectively, feel the tension  and the squeeze. Needless to say, it’s super uncomfortable. At the same time, the tenacity of the human spirit rallies.   

To help you endure, I hope you choose to make time for self-care (however that looks for you). 

Ask yourself, “What self-care am I currently doing?” Is it physical, mental, emotional, spiritual? What do I need more of? 

Do it this week. Do it for you! 

You might choose to practice mindfulness when you wake. This kick starts your day as you set positive intentions. It helps you to be present to experience now, rather than being distracted from yesterday, or being fearful of tomorrow. Being available to those whom you are working with and ‘sheltering in' with, makes everything flow smoother!       

Check-in/Connection: It’s not business as usual, so people need to know you care. This has a multitude of benefits, so don’t diminish the importance of planned check-ins with your team (and family and friends) that increase communication and connection. The added benefit is that connecting with those in your world feeds into your own self-care and wellness. 

I suggest two things for regular check-ins about well-being—whether team members or family and friends: 1. Give room for them to voice their current needs/stress. 2. Give room for them to share what is working for them.

The tension and the squeeze cartoon: Business people in yoga poses - Leading Edge Teams

Compassion: We are all surviving the same storm, but we’re not paddling the same boat. 

There’s comfort in knowing, as humans, that “the tension and squeeze” is universal. 

You are not the only one trying to get to the shore and get grounded, but your particular stressors are specific to you—and they're different from mine—at work or at home. 

Your situation, and your response to it, is different from others on your business team, your partner or child, your neighbor, your doctor or store clerk. Your stressors are dependent on the many factors that make up your life—no one else lives your life.  

Like me, I’m sure you’re thankful that your engine is running, yet the degree of barricades and detours in the road remind you that you must stay alert and keep your foot on the brake, hoping tomorrow you can go full throttle, step on the gas and drive forward. But no one can say for sure when that will be.Business as usual” has taken on new meaning, but it’s good that along with challenge and change, there’s growth and learning. 

New normal? What’s that? We really don’t know what it will look like. 

The “tension and squeeze” is obvious to all as new normals at work and at home are searched for in this uncertain time. Full clarity is not possible.

However, as you walk through twists and turns, doing your thing, it’s vital to raise your human awareness of how others do their thing, remembering, “I haven’t walked in your shoes.” The discord on social media seems to be heightened, and disagreements experienced among team members, and friends and family are frequent, because situations, understanding, and perspective are unique to each individual. 

What do I suggest to help you feel aligned with others and bring greater peace to yourself during this odd time in our history? 

Resist judgement: For the most part, especially when you recognize that you are reacting in stress-filled “fight or flight,” the human tendency can be to judge someone else's choices or opinions. Choose to pause at such times. Try to accept what is and let it go—and choose kindness, patience and compassion to those around you.    

Seek clarity on the facts: Strive to be an objective observer, versus making firm judgements. Reacting emotionally to the different perspectives that swirl around you, will toss your emotions every-which-way, keeping you in a state of distress. 

Another reason to resist judging others, it reminds you to resist judging yourself. Choosing to be more objective and less judgemental, as you accept “what is” around you, brings peace to your world. This is a discipline that models compassion and kindness in action—and it’s incredibly powerful.    

Habit for Self-Leaders: Observe your innermost thoughts and feelings. This helps your Leadership growth, and also belongs on your self-care list. No one is immune—everyone feels it! So, go ahead and let yourself feel it (whatever “it” is), without judgement, until you reach the place of compassion and comfort with your secure self. 

And as you walk forward in this new normal, as a leader, generously influence those around you, by extending them compassion—in your sameness and in your differences. 

“At the end of the day people won't remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”

You're not alone!

Barbara Schindler
COO | Executive Coach | Entrepreneurial Consultant

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