C-Suite Agenda

7 ways to stay connected in times of isolation

Last Tuesday I ventured into the supermarket with my 11and 16-year old sons, Carter and Flynn. Fifteen minutes in and I could feel my anxiety levels rising as I absorbed the panic around me.  Flynn became increasingly vocal about why people were buying more than they needed – “Why can’t people just buy what they want, Mum, surely then there would be enough for everyone”. Yep. And Carter’s anxiety levels started to escalate out of control as he fearfully asked “Why? Why? Why?”.  It took a lot of digging deep to not throw my few items back on the empty shelves and shout to the heavens, “I’m One Very Anxious Parent…Get Me Out Of Here”

This got me thinking about the increasingly uncertain times we are all living in right now.  Adults, children, the older generation; entrepreneurs, small business owners, service providers, executives and leaders – every single one of us is affected by the daily unravelling of Covid-19 and its implications for ourselves, our families, our businesses and our futures.

From ToiletRoll-Gate to empty shelves in supermarkets; from managing the anxiety amongst our teams, clients and for me children to trying to remain as calm as possible as I create plan A, B and C for our business; from should I stay or should I go, should I venture out or isolate?

Belonging is a pure basic human need. If we forget to intentionally reach out to network, connect and nurture the important relationships around us, the resulting isolation and disconnection will have further reaching ramifications on our individual health, well-being and personal success.

Author Amelia S Worsley states, ‘Modern loneliness isn’t just about being physically removed from other people. Instead, it’s an emotional state of feeling apart from others — without necessarily being so’.  She explains that now loneliness is more difficult to overcome because it has moved ‘inward’—it’s now in our minds.

Here are 7 ideas on how to nurture your network during these times of isolation:

  1. Be Intentional – Create a weekly plan and block out time to reach out and check in with your network – this isn’t about hustling for sales but more about building relationships with care at the core.
  2. Go Face-to-Face Virtually – Lock in virtual hook-ups so you can see people’s faces (albeit via a computer screen), look them in the eye so you can get a real sense of what is going on. Go virtually one on one and what about a virtual hangout of one to many?
  3. Be Accountable – Managing distraction and avoiding procrastination is hard at the best of times let alone when you are working alone from home with no-one keeping you on track.  Why not set up a 15-minute weekly accountability call with your personal Butt-Kicker to review the good, the bad and the ugly from the previous week and share your three big commitments for the week ahead.
  4. Put Care First – Ask people how they are really feeling?  Explore what is really going on for others, listen deeply and be interested in finding out what you can do to help.
  5. Give Unconditionally – Share your ideas and insight with no expectation of anything in return. Create opportunities that matter for others. Share business opportunities. Be prepared to invest your time and energy and get curious about what you can give to help others through this time.
  6. Keep learning – A life of continuous learning is essential to growth, ongoing inspiration and a feeling of belonging to the moment.  Harvard professor Linda Hill says, ‘You can’t think of something new unless you are being pushed to think in new directions, and you can’t do that unless you are engaging with people who have a different viewpoint’.
  7. Be Courageously You – Going it alone won’t sustain you into the long term.  It’s not about hiding or pretending everything is ok. We all need help.  Have the courage to be vulnerable, to reach out, to ask for help. Share openly what is really going on for you, your fears and your concerns.  Surrender and allow your trusted network to help you.

It is our sense of belong, of connectedness, of togetherness that matters. In this time of isolation and disconnection, we all have to work that little bit harder to connect with intent.

Written by Janine Garner.

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Janine Garner
Janine Garner is the author of Be Brilliant – how to lead a life of influence (Wiley) and is a global thought leader on powerful networking, collaboration and transformational leadership. A highly sought-after keynote speaker, educator and best-selling author, Janine works with high-profile global leaders, and helps many of Australia’s top 50 ASX companies and multinationals. Janine Garner is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow her on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.