This Is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

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Something we have been hearing since the middle of March is that this crisis is a marathon and not a sprint. We understand the meaning of the sentence, but do we really understand what this means for us and our reality? Brené Brown, a research professor who has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy, is giving us some advice in understanding how this crisis is affecting us and some strategies to put in place to help us through it.

When crisis hits, we have the adrenaline that kicks in and takes over, we get busy in helping, taking care of things, we are focused on what to do next and we don’t notice how our “normal” has disappeared and our life has changed for ever. When the adrenaline goes, people have gone back to their own lives and that is when we are faced with the abyss of the New Norm. A month into this crisis, the adrenaline is wearing off.


Settling the Ball

Our reality today is surrounded by new inputs creating a New Norm:

So how do we go about accepting our new norm and coming to terms with it? We need a new Mindshift moving from the adrenaline of the crisis that was moving us forward to something more sustainable. We can call this “Settling the ball”. A ball has been passed on to us at shoulder height which we cannot control with our legs anymore, we need to receive it, bring it down, position it strategically, read the field and make our next move. We need to create a new norm and grieve the old one at the same time, here are some things that may help:

During this time of Settling the Ball and looking for a new strategy when the adrenaline of the crisis has worn off, we may find ourselves with very low energy levels and we still need to finish our Marathon. These low energy levels are putting our relationships at risk.


The 50/50 Rule

There is a Myth that the strong lasting relationships rely on the 50/50 rule. One partner brings 50% of the energy in the relationship and the other one the remaining 50%. In real life, the best relationships are based on when you are on 20% of energy level, your partner, loved one or friend will come up with the remaining 80% for you to be able to function at 100% as a family/unit. What if your partner is also at a 20% energy level? That’s when you have a 60% gap. So how do you communicate your family where you are and what we need to do in order to achieve this 100%? That’s where the Family Gap Plan comes in.


The Family Gap Plan

The Family Gap Plan is a plan you put together as a family or with your friends where you decide how to charge your energy and how to support each other in those difficult moments so that the family or unit functions well again without disputes like: “I worked so hard today, I am at 20% and I am expecting you to take over”, without even thinking how the other person may be. Are they also at 20% because they also had a busy day? Or even worse? So, here is the family gap plan of Brené and her family:

  1. No harsh words
  2. No nice words with harsh faces (that’s when you are telling your children nice calm words, but your face is showing how you really feel)
  3. Say you are sorry
  4. Accept apologies with “Thank you, I accept your apology”. Accepting an apology with “That is ok” is not good enough
  5. More jokes

Have a family meeting and discuss where you are at your energy level and where everyone in the family is, acknowledge everyone’s position and come up with a family gap plan to help each other and make you function at a 100% as a family/unit. You are in this together!

Source: Brené Brown’s Podcast


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