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What Will You Take From the Pandemic?

Is there room for Post-Traumatic Growth?

In March 2020, I published online what I termed the COVID-19 Book, which graphically depicted the impact of the virus.  The emoji 😷 represented someone infected by the virus, and 😢 was for someone who had succumbed to it.  It was meant to humanize what at the time seemed to be very large numbers. 

I stopped after only a few days, as the numbers grew too quickly.  Here’s a link to it if you’re curious.  And here’s a screenshot of the Johns Hopkins data used for it. 

The numbers were for the United States on March 21st, 2020.  And yes, that is correct; the total number of cases/infections confirmed was “only” 25,493 and the number of confirmed deaths was 307.

Then and Now
So here we are in 2021.  March 2020 seems like a few years ago.  There’s obviously been a lot of discussion regarding stress from the pandemic, and rightfully so.  The toll has been incredible for many.

Notwithstanding that, if you’re reading this 60-Second Read, you’ve made it this far through the pandemic.  Would it be fair to say that the person you are today in January 2021 is not the same as the one back in March 2020?  At minimum, you’ve changed and, I think it would be reasonable to suggest, have grown as a result.

Post-traumatic stress is a well known condition.  Less well known is Post-Traumatic Growth, or PTG.  PTG is not a new concept, as we all know we can learn from our setbacks.  The formal study of PTG, though, is relatively new.

Leading researchers of PTG include psychologists Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun at UNC Charlotte.  Tedeschi defines PTG as “the experience of positive change resulting from the struggle with major life crises”.

Some things to note about PTG:

  • It’s not stress or growth.  It’s both.
  • According to Tedeschi, those most likely to experience PTG “are those who would actively approach difficulty rather than avoid it. Someone who is open to change, open to the novelty and serendipity of life.”
  • The more severe the event, the more post-traumatic growth you’ll potentially see.  As Tedeschi notes, if you’ve had a parking lot fender bender, it may shake you up, but you won’t be profoundly changed.  If you experience and live through a global pandemic, it will likely be different.
  • The benefits of PTG?  For Tedeschi: “I do try to savor things, and separate the important from the trivial.  I try to catch myself when I am overreacting, and remember what is truly important.”
  • And finally, according to Tedeschi, “to move toward PTG, you have to go through a phase of intense reflection.”

What will you take with you?
So before the year gets away from you, take the time to reflect on what you’ve been through, what you’ve overcome, and how you’ve grown as a consequence.
What have you learned?  What does that mean for how you will lead and live going forward?
And similarly important, what can you teach those you lead?