I know your inbox and your LinkedIn feed and the news platforms that you follow are all telling you what’s different in our new landscape (I googled ‘COVID-19 leadership advice’ and got 1.91 million results!).
And most of them will have a view as to how permanent these changes are and what will be different about our world when we re-emerge. And I suspect that you are – or soon will be – over it. I know I am.
Please, I really don’t want to hear ‘pivot’ or ‘the new normal’ or ‘we’re all in this together’ (puh-lease!) again. Ever.
So, by way of reminder and reassurance, here’s a couple of pretty important things that we know will be the same; things that you can bank on with certainty; things that are real right now and will stay real into our shared respective futures.
PEOPLE LIKE TO BELONG
Like most of our strong and universal psychological constructs, our need to belong springs from the days our ancestors learned that hunting and gathering and being protected from attack were all more effectively achieved when done in groups. There was a time out on the savannah, that rejection from the group didn’t just result in hurt feelings, it was likely going to be fatal. We’re hard-wired to seek acceptance, attention and support from others.
Our sense of belonging though doesn’t come simply from being a card-carrying member of a group; it derives from the sense of quality and meaning and satisfaction that accompanies the social connections that membership of that group brings. So we don’t just want to be in a group (or club or even tribe, if you prefer), we also want to contribute, to share, to feel the comfort and security that comes with being among our own people.
PEOPLE LIKE TO LAUGH
While most of us will have a quiet chuckle to ourselves from time to time, we reserve the laugh-out-loud stuff for when we’re with others. Laughing is social and it serves to underscore a sense of shared meaning; it reaffirms relationships; and can even get new ones started.
We’ve all heard that ‘laughter is the best medicine’ and there’s plenty of evidence to back that up. Here’s five great reasons we need to laugh, according to Ros Ben-Moshe, founder of the LaughLife wellbeing programs:
1. It increases oxygen levels
More oxygen means both body and brains function more effectively.
2. It strengthens your immunity
There is research to show that laughing increases the number of immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies that improves resistance to disease.
3. Laughter is THE BEST stress buster
A belly laugh leads directly to a reduction in stress, anxiety and fear. It triggers the release of endorphins and can even lower blood pressure.
4. It helps you connect with others
It’s very hard for two people who laugh together to feel any animosity towards each other. People are drawn to other people laughing.
5. It’s a form of meditation
Laughter will bring you into the present moment. It’s a whole brain experience, enabling clarity in thought and focus.
A few weeks ago I wrote about the important choices leaders can make to shine a light and show the way in challenging times. By acknowledging what we know to be true and universal about the people around us, we can make choices that appeal to these fundamental truths.
We can focus on all of the ‘news’ about how our lives will never be the same again, or we can find ways to reassure those around us – and ourselves – that the French are right: “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” Our craving to belong and our need to laugh define us as human.
It’s true: the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Postscript: Billy Connelly once said, “Life is supposed to be fun. It’s not a job or occupation. We’re here only once and we should have a bit of a laugh.” But then again, Billy also said, “Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn’t try it on….”