Churchill, Emotion, and Optimism

August 7, 2020

Like many of you, I am an avid reader and usually have a couple of books going at the same time as well as a pile of articles and magazines. I started reading The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson over Memorial Day weekend and just finished. Usually, I zip through books, but with this one, I was compelled to do some outside reading to supplement my knowledge of both the man and the times. I highly recommend it not only because it is an excellent story, but it is a lesson for our time.

What can we learn from Churchill’s leadership during the Blitz, and what would Churchill do if he was leading a university or independent school today? In an Inside Higher Ed article, Joshua Kim claims there are five leadership lessons for school leaders from The Splendid and the Vile:

  1. Don’t Sugarcoat – Speak plainly and honestly
  2. Lay Out a Positive Vision for the Future
  3. Surround Yourself with Advisors Who Will Disagree with You
  4. Get Help
  5. Don’t Be Afraid to Show Emotion

Speaking of emotions — for many, emotions have been running high for the past couple of weeks and with good reason. We are back in semi-lockdown due to increasing cases of COVID-19 in our area, receiving conflicting guidance about reopening in the fall, and feeling a little overwhelmed and isolated. If you are interested in how people in other countries are faring emotionally during COVID-19, check out this Emotion Archive from McKinsey. It is both thought-provoking and validating.

All is not gloom and doom! Many of us are tapping into other outlets to jumpstart our creativity so we can get back to being the leaders we need to be for our colleagues and constituents:

  1. Stop pressuring yourself – Be kind to yourself and do the best you can
  2. Go outside - Enjoy a change of scenery and get some fresh air
  3. Try a different medium – Churchill painted; I cook. What is your go to medium to take a break and get a fresh perspective?

And while we are getting our fresh perspective, here are some good reasons for optimism according to Joseph Allen from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health:

  • Therapeutic treatments are showing to be effective both to treat and prevent COVID-19.
  • Rapid, low-cost saliva tests for COVID-19 are being developed and could be a gamechanger.
  • Universal mask-wearing is catching on.
  • Consensus has emerged that airborne spread of the coronavirus is happening, and the World Health Organization and other organizations are now recommending the use of healthy building strategies such as higher ventilation, better filtration, and the use of air cleaning devices.
  • Several studies suggest that past exposure to common-cold coronaviruses may help protect some people from COVID-19 infection.
  • Vaccine trials seem to be working and drug makers have said they may be able to deliver doses as early as October.

Another good reason for optimism is we are all in this together. PAISBOA has a robust network of Business Officers, HR professionals, Plant Managers, Tech Directors, Sustainability Champions, Auxiliary Programs Managers, Food Service Personnel, and others who stand ready to offer support, advice, and counsel through meetings, webinars, e-lists, and who face the same triumphs and challenges every day.

Please join us for the Monday Morning Coffee Break at 10:00 am when we will hear from three of our colleagues about lessons learned from their summer camp experiences and will have a legal briefing from Susan Guerette from Fisher Phillips. We will also hear from our friends at Canon on Wednesday, July 29 at 1:00 pm about a new product, and we will host a program with Willis Towers Watson about Cyber Coverage and Post Breach Best Practices on Thursday, July 30 at 11:00 am.

In the meantime, immerse yourself in a good book, spend some time with the really cool Emotion Archive, try a new recipe, take a walk, start painting, and enjoy the weekend!

Take Advantage of the Power of the Flock...

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