Hard lessons already learned from COVID-19

Dear Leaders (Friends)

“Below the line” has been my almost permanent existence these past few weeks. How about you?

The “line” is a clear divide.  In any moment we are either “above the line”—in curiosity, possibility, openness and abundance or “below the line”—closed, defensive, needing to be right/superior, feeling scarcity.

In conscious leadership we use five core emotions to describe our current state: joy, creative, anger, sadness, and fear. These days, my emotions cycle quickly. Most often, I am angry, sad and scared. Joy and creative feelings make guest appearances.

Before I share some of my own journey these past weeks, I want to pause and thank you for whatever efforts you are making to lead your business, protect your family and Islanders. Our legacy of how we collectively lead through this pandemic will only be known much later.

As some of you know, COVID-19 has been my preoccupation since we skied in Wentworth in mid-February. A scientist friend had been making strong arguments since early January to take it very seriously. While in Wentworth, my cousin Alex told me that his very bright emergency room doctor friend was also predicting a global pandemic. That tipped me into a full-on campaign mode.

I started having conversations asking people to prepare. These conversations didn’t get much traction, so I turned up the volume to metaphorical “screaming from the roof tops” at my family, friends, colleagues and clients to pay attention.  I saddened, angered and exhausted myself in the process.

In hindsight, while my intentions were very noble—to get us all acting early to prevent the worst—I was coming at things from deep fear and a certain measure of wanting to be right and prove others wrong. As exhausting and strident as I was, I don’t think I would change it.  I believe I did wake some leaders who have influence. And I certainly learned a great deal about myself and my leadership.

I have been “Switzerland” for most of my life. I am normally fairly neutral and calm.

My biggest learning has come from choosing to take such a strong stand and experiencing what that is like.

It’s been quite a ride. I have been laughed at, dismissed and judged as over reactive. I think certain people have avoided me.  Others have thanked me for leading and caring so much.   

Overall, I have learned that I can stand for something and people will ultimately stick by me, even if they don’t share my view. I am learning that some things are worth taking a risk for even if my own ego takes a beating. And I am learning that I could have gotten a lot more curious to engage people in a conversation to create a “win for all” versus trying to be right or spread fear.

It would be great to be able to tell you I’ve shifted to leading from “above the line” more consistently right now. I cannot. It would be a lot to expect.

Instead, I notice that I am still coming at things from deep fear. I am trying to control things that I cannot. I am getting into small disputes with my parents, my friends and even my daughter. Sadly, they are people I need the most. These are the people I want to protect. These are the people I love the most. And yet, from fear, I am pushing them away at times. I am creating the exact opposite of what I want and need. I have tears in my eyes as I write. The biggest lesson of all for me is that I need to accept myself and others. We are all fumbling through.

And finally, I am grateful for many joys that have snapped me out of fear for short times this past week—sunshine, bike rides, connections, good deeds. 

One of those joys is our Chandler Coaches team. We care deeply for each other. We are meeting regularly via video conference to keep facing reality together. We’re committed to supporting each other and our clients.  We’re using this time to face what’s unfolding. We’ll quietly create loose plans that we hope will serve our clients in new ways going forward.

We know you are all facing realities of your own. Today, I simply wanted to connect and share.

Conscious leaders are in constant creative response to what is occurring now. We can resist or we can respond. Bit by tiny bit, I am learning to drop the resistance to create what I want most. How about you?


  1. Kirstin on March 20, 2020 at 7:36 am

    It’s certainly a fabulous time for self-reflection and learning about ourselves. Thanks for sharing your own experience in that, it will support others to reflect and learn. <3

    • Lisa on March 27, 2020 at 10:28 am

      Hey Kirstin
      Been following your self-isolation. Thanks for reading and supporting. We all have gifts to offer at this time and it’s great to see people rising to the challenges.

  2. Tanya on March 20, 2020 at 7:55 am

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I believe we all experience this in different ways and there is no “right” way to handle a situation like this, we are all doing the best that we can given our individual circumstances. Hopefully, moving forward, we will have more days “above the line” then below.

    • Lisa on March 27, 2020 at 10:30 am

      Hey Tanya- Thanks for reading and commenting. Agreed…no “right” way. And in truth, most of us are “below the line” most of the time in in “normal” times. The idea isn’t to hold ourselves to an ideal of being above the line, it’s more about recognizing where were are in any given moment, accepting ourselves wherever we are and learning from it. Sometimes we are ready to shift into above the line and sometimes not. And that is ok!

  3. Carol on March 20, 2020 at 8:37 am

    We are working from home and yesterday did a telephone conference that kept us all in the loop. I am grateful for the ability to work from home and still be able to help our customers, Also everyone I work with seems upbeat and able to function really well as a team. Our management and I T staff have made it possible to do the social distancing and are very caring about how we are doing and coping. In times like this I am very proud to be an employee

    • Lisa on March 27, 2020 at 10:31 am

      Carol- I am really happy for you and proud of your team too:)

  4. Kate Marshall on March 20, 2020 at 8:59 am

    This week, I have had to lead a team of 34 from the safety and support of our office environment, to working from home. In doing this, I have had to make exceptions, give more than I have at times and trust more than ever before. Having you as my coach, both one on one and then as part of your Leadership Forum, have enabled me to lead well through this. You need to know how much you change the lives of others, in a very positive way. Be kind to yourself. Continue to find the joy. You are wonderful and wise.

    • Lisa on March 27, 2020 at 10:32 am

      Ah Kate- You sure know how to fill my heart up. I only just saw the comments yesterday and that was perfectly timed to inspire me to “bother” writing. new post today! Thank you. You are a great teacher.

  5. Mary Lynn Kane on March 20, 2020 at 9:25 am

    Thank you Lisa for being prepared to share the raw vulnerability that COVID 19 has exposed in all of us. For me, you have described the “burden” of leadership that so many are experiencing and giving voice to the challenge helps. Thank you. The burden is real and with it comes a great sense that we are far more united than divided. I am encouraged with the leadership I am seeing everyday and see that the obstacle is the path. ML

    • Lisa on March 27, 2020 at 10:33 am

      ML- You’re another great teacher. The obstacle IS the path. And it is so much richer to travel the “burden” and learning with you.

  6. Steve Dunne on March 20, 2020 at 9:49 am

    Lisa. Thanks for this very honest – open and timely post. You sure made me feel better for reading. You articulated what we are going through better than anything I have seen so far. We are all in this together. Thanks for sharing, caring and leading.

    • Lisa on March 27, 2020 at 10:35 am

      Steve- So validating to hear that my post helped you. I am deeply grateful you took the time to read and comment. Like I said to Kate above, seeing the comments on last week’s post only yesterday, while late, was perfect timing as it gave me some “get up and go” to write a new post to send out later today.

  7. Julie Connolly on March 20, 2020 at 10:14 am

    I am reminded of the Brene Brown quote “how human of you,” which I have grown to love.
    It doesn’t negate any wrong doing, on our part, but it allows us to be gentler with ourselves
    when we fall short of who we think we should be.
    How human of you! For being fearful during an unprecedented pandemic.
    How human of you! For wanting to protect those you love.
    How human of you! To encourage people to be proactive instead of reactive.

    How special of you! To be open & honest enough to share!

    • Lisa on March 27, 2020 at 10:36 am

      Dear Julie
      Thanks for being so willing to be human together.

  8. Angelo Pesce on March 20, 2020 at 11:49 am

    I really appreciated your openness in critiquing how you approached people to warn them about the pandemic. Learning about yourself and others under unusual circumstances is always a great idea. However, we can also learn from what we do right. In your case what you did right was to listen to experts and cared enough to warn others, your approach may have been better but the people you connected with knew you cared and that is very important in difficult situations. As an example, my daughter has literally quarantined me. I agree that I should take care because of my age and my post polio issues. But she is over reacting in my view. but I am obeying because she obviously cares a great deal about my well being. And that is very important in my decision to obey her restrictions on my movements.

    So when self reflecting remember what makes you so special. you care a great deal about everyone you come in contact with.

    • Lisa on March 27, 2020 at 10:37 am

      Dear Angelo…friend/mentor
      1) Your daughter was NOT overreacting 🙂
      2) Thanks you for appreciating me. I am learning to appreciate myself through all of this too.

  9. Bettyh on March 20, 2020 at 8:57 pm

    Lisa: Thank you for sharing your journey, thus far, with us. I have to admit, I didn’t stop long enough to even think that this could really come to our shores. A special time for self-reflection. It makes me want to reach out to all of my family and extended family and tell each of them just how much they are loved. Maybe, because, of my age I would express my feelings as sad rather than fear. Because we come from a place of strength we will see our way through this as long as we all do our part in following recommendations learned from Italy. You are such an incredible young woman with so much to share and lead with – never let anyone waiver your determination, we will all benefit from it. Hugs & Kisses

    • Lisa on March 27, 2020 at 10:39 am

      Dear Betty
      Reading your post was like reading a love letter. I have been thinking of you so much these past few weeks and especially right now. It’s normal to feel sad. I do too. Thanks for being such a steadfast cheerleader. While we are rarely together in person, I always feel your support.

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