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  • Writer's pictureJosh Vaisman

F&@king COVID

Lately, I’m struggling.

That’s right, I struggle too. I’m both the “veterinary Positive Psychology guy” and a (basically) normal human being.

Like so many small businesses, a couple months ago massive swaths of Flourish work disappeared. Ever since, like much of the US workforce, I’ve been doing my work entirely from home.

At first, it sucked. Big time. A bunch of my business’s revenue disappeared in a flash and I had (and in some ways still do have) no idea how or when things would recover.

If they ever do.

I mean, why would any veterinary clinic want to hire a company like Flourish NOW, when it’s all they can do to survive?

F&@king COVID.

Then it hit me.

I actually have a lot to offer.

Positive Psychology is, after all, the scientific endeavor studying thriving, resilient people and organizations. And if ever there was a time the veterinary community needed resilience, it’s now!

So I got to work, sharing as much of my expertise as I could to support the veterinary community I love.

And for a while it felt really good.

Until a few days ago.

When I began honing in on all the things I’m missing.

The social connections with my friends, colleagues, and clients. Getting together for lunch or a consulting session. Traveling for speaking engagements and meeting more and more amazing veterinary professionals. Working hand-in-hand with hospitals to guide them in implementing an evidence-based approach to unleashing their leadership superpowers.

All things I cannot control.

Honestly, I’ve been getting pretty depressed. And the worst part is, because of what I do I tend to beat myself up if I feel “shitty” – like the Positive Psychology guy isn’t allowed to be down.

F&@king COVID.

Resilience is, in large part, about mindset.

Extensive research teaches us resilience is, in large part, about mindset. It’s how we think about a situation and where we focus our cognitive resources that determine how resilient we will be.

In fact, recent research in emergency providers such as police officers shows that mindset can predict not only resilience, but both physical and psychological well-being!

My mindset had gotten stuck on the aspects of this crisis that are out of my control. Of course that’s been bringing me down? Feeling helpless and powerless contributes to a sense of hopelessness.

It’s a fact that this crisis sucks. It’s a fact that I can’t meet up in person with people I care about, travel for speaking, and work side by side with clinic leaders in their hospitals.

But those are not the only facts.

There are things I have influence over.

For example:

  1. Not everything about this crisis sucks. By being at home every day I’m getting all sorts of projects done that had fallen by the wayside. And by not traveling I’m also home with my wife every day. In what may be the last year of our dog, Lily’s, life I get to spend a ton of extra time with her.

  2. I can’t meet up with people like I had grown accustomed too but I can find new ways to connect. For example, I’m making sure to check in with someone important every day by phone, text, email, or video.

  3. While travel for public speaking is not an option, virtual speaking is. I’ve developed webinar-friendly versions of most of my presentations and have conducted several already, connecting with well over 1000 veterinary professionals in the last 3 weeks.

  4. Veterinary leaders need help now more than ever. These are truly unprecedented times with no guidebook to get us through with ease. While I can’t be there side-by-side guiding and advising like I typically would, I can still support them virtually. So I built an affordable and fully virtual Positive Leadership consulting package to bring the science of leadership superpowers to any clinic who needs it.

And this morning, at what I’d call the lowest moment in my personal COVID adventure, I started fresh by focusing on what I can control today – 10 minutes of a mindfulness followed by a 15 minute walk.

Then I wrote this blog.

I think we can honor the shitty things in our lives by recognizing them, naming them, and even embracing them. Know this – the shitty feelings are normal. Every single one of us is struggling right now in some way, shape, or form. We should expect that.

In abnormal times it’s inappropriate to have normal expectations – of ourselves and each other.

So embrace the suck. Then make a choice – do you want to focus your thoughts on just those things? Or, will you take a breath and shift to the myriad things you can control.

The science is clear. When you make the shift you unlock strength you may not even realize you have.

It’s in there. Time to unleash it.

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