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Five Leadership Lessons I Learned From Having COVID Four Times!

I'm recovering from COVID.

Whenever I’m sick or have a medical challenge, it prods me to reflect on it. I just go with it.

I ask things like:

  • What does it mean to disrupt the status quo and to need help?

  • Or where has my arrogance shown up before I got sick?

And then, without planning and probably because I have so much free time when I’m sick, my mind wonders, and I ask, what am I learning through this experience? What can I use to make me a better leader, friend, sibling, daughter, neighbor, or random kind person?

It's the weird, quirky teacher part of my brain that rarely shuts off.

Most of the time the lessons are clear.

This time I noticed themes that have run through my COVID experiences. And I thought, “Hot damn! I should write these down.” So I did.

1. You are not as great a leader as you think, but also you’re also not as bad.

Humility is vital to being a good sick person and a great leader. My friends consider me very healthy. I eat close to the ground. I don’t eat processed foods like bread, pasta, or Impossible Burgers. I work out 6 days a week. I take supplements. I have a functional medicine doctor. I meditate daily.

But that does not make me immune. My lesson?

Humility is priceless.

I traveled a lot over the last two weeks. I choose not to wear a mask in the airports and the lounges. I was resting on my strength to be able to fight off something. I was arrogant in thinking the rise in COVID cases was not about me.

2. Stop trying to numb everything.

Being uncomfortable is NECESSARY for growth (and to having COVID). Practice sitting in discomfort. People are living half lives because they are afraid of the discomfort. Sitting in discomfort is where courage comes from.

Learning how to be uncomfortable is one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself.

I didn’t dose myself with pain meds. In more straightforward moments, I knew the discomfort wouldn’t last. I asked myself to bare it for five more minutes in high fever moments. Then I’d doze off, and it would be an hour later!

3. Shut up and sit down!

Your team (and your brain need a break). Get off social media, read a book, or stare at a wall or a photo and let your mind wander. Every part of you will be grateful. Your team will be grateful. There is power in doing nothing. And sometimes, you must speak harshly to yourself to ensure you have your attention!

Your mind and body soooooo need a break from you and your busyness.

4. It is always darkest before dawn.

The worst part of COVID was right before I felt better. On Day 5, I thought, I can’t take this anymore! Why am I not feeling better? I will never feel better again! (It’s where my mind goes!) On Day 6, I felt like a new person!

The worst part of a leadership challenge comes when you want to give up, think about quitting, and can’t find a solution.

Then a solution presents itself. It’s like your mind needs you to give up so it can find the opening to create a new neuropathway for a different solution.

5. Follow the nudge

If you feel a nudge to go back to bed, go back to bed. If you feel the nudge to apologize, apologize. Follow your internal nudges. Most of the time, they are your higher self trying to make you a better, healthier person.

When you meditate consistently, you are more attuned to the little nudges. but whether you meditate or not,

those nudges are always there.

So those are the five primary lessons I learned. Take what you like and leave the rest. I’m hoping I won’t get sick again anytime soon!

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