The need to Zoom out!par David Carey, ACC
As I sat to write this article on the morning of the 29th of January 2021, it occurred to me that a few days ago, January 25th we passed an uncelebrated and largely unremembered anniversary. It was on January 25th, 2020, that the very first case of Covid-19 in Canada was announced by Health Canada. Although it took Canadians until March to begin coming to terms with the danger and severity of the emerging crisis, it remains that January 25th will stand in history as the day that changed our way of life in the short term, and quite possible forever.
As the global death toll passes 33,000,000, although many Canadians remain divided about the approach and policies that have been adopted to deal with it, Covid-19 is quickly taking its place in history as one of the most deadly pandemics in human history, and as divided as we may be about how to approach it, there is something that unites us. We are tired of it! And this is taking a major toll on our mental health and emotional stability.
In a recent conversation I had with a friend, I was struck by the sense of hopelessness pre-eminent in our conversation. It occurred to me that as the pandemic endures, the focus of human conversation has slowly shifted away from questions about when we will return to normal, to a quiet resignation that things will never be the same. This conversation made me realise that the greatest casualty of Covid-19, apart from the staggering loss of life, is most probably the slow and agonising death of peoples hope and vision of a better future. I am convinced that this is one of the most insidious and relentless consequences of crisis, and like Covid-19 itself, despair it would seem is highly contagious. This is significant.
Like a microscope, crisis narrows our focus to the microscopic intricacies of our current pain and causes us to lose hope and the true perspective that the crisis, as bad as it may be in the moment, is only a small part of a bigger reality. It’s like zooming in on a photograph. Zoom in on a specific point of any photograph and you will quickly lose your perspective and context of what you are looking at. If this is true, it means that people’s best hope for surviving Covid-19 and returning to ‘’normal’’ is to zoom out, cultivate hope, and begin to focus on a bigger reality.
As Coaches in 2021, in the middle of a global crisis, this is our greatest challenge, our greatest responsibility, and our greatest opportunity. All three coming together at a pivotal moment in human history. In this moment when people are naturally inclined to focus on their isolation, pain and survival, Coaching can play a crucial role. We can, No! We should be helping our clients zoom out of their laser focus on Covid-19 and challenging them to shift their attention to the bigger picture.
We do this by asking questions that help them to identify any habits or preoccupations that have developed during the pandemic that could be limiting their ability to think big. We do this by helping them identify and consider, organizations that have successfully responded to the pandemic by creating innovative solutions and have prospered, and in fact expanded, in spite of the current crisis. We challenge them to identify the strategies that worked and challenge them to consider how these same strategies might be modified and applied to them. Finally, we do this by helping them to develop concrete action plans and strategies for seizing their unique opportunities and moving forward.
Those of us who are not health professionals may not be at the front lines combating the disease itself, however, as coaches we can play a significant role in immunizing the population against despair. It is my sincere hope that we will seize this opportunity and leave a lasting legacy on our post Covid society.