"A thought is harmless until we believe it. Its not our thoughts but our attachment to our thoughts that causes suffering." B. Katie

As your employees begin to return to work after Covid 19: the hangover will linger for many months and even years for some employees. The only certainty is uncertainty. This is truly unexplored territory. Its difficult to compare the 1918 Spanish Flu since it was over 100 years ago and so much has changed since then. But even with modern technology, proper sanitation, and our external environment, have human beings changed internally that much?

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If I had told anyone at the beginning of 2020 our entire planet would be shut down because of the flu, I would either be laughed at or recommended a good medication. Where celebrities and inner city human beings would both be on even playing fields for the first time in our life times. Everyone was ordered to stay at home. A surreal scene straight out of a Sci-Fy movie.

Now that people are returning to the actual work place, you will notice various personality traits and emotions surfacing. Some will still be in a state of fear (hangover), others with various forms of happiness and bravado. Keeping a close eye out for obvious extremes of any of these emotions can help you shape your team back to a sense of normalcy and productivity. The mind cannot accept external input unless it is in line with a person's belief system. How do you know your team's belief system? Simple, you talk to them. Getting to know your employee's feelings, beliefs, hobbies and personalities is imperative to know how they felt about the craziness that just occurred.

I contacted my Aunt the other day asking her what she remembered about World War II and the aftermath that followed. She told me it was a trying time but when it was all over, there was dancing in the streets. We then went on to help rebuild Europe (Marshall Plan) and our economy boomed making the USA the world's richest country. Americans became closer as a result. Of course, what we just went through was and is unique and left us with many emotions on all levels. I remember exactly where I was when 911 and the Space Shuttle Challenger disasters occurred. Everyone handles national tragedies differently. Their perception is unique and even though it may be similar to our own, it is still unique. Covid 19 is not just a national tragedy though. There was and is still a serious health risk that will continue until a vaccine is created.

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You have 60,000 - 80,000 thoughts going through your mind each day. Most of these thoughts are subconscious thoughts deeply hidden in the recesses of your mind. Thoughts based on emotion can be inaccurate and false just like when we make decisions based on emotions. Tragedy and crisis affects people in different levels. Perceptions are different since everyone has different experiences dealing with crisis. Problems occur when people dwell too long on bad thoughts. There is no edit button with the subconscious and this is where most decisions are made (garbage in garbage out). The way to handle negative thoughts is to acknowledge the thought and move on. Blocking negative thoughts can lead to depression. Anger turned inward can also lead to depression. Some employees have relatives or friends who contracted the virus or loss their jobs. Their perception will be more personal in nature. These are the ones to keep a closer eye on and be open to any needs they may have. If they know you are available and a good listener, this should result in this employee becoming more loyal and committed to the organizational goals of your company. I hope this does not sound selfish, ie; putting the goals of the company above the needs of your team but as long as the "hangover" does not lead to a decline in their mental and physical health, they still have a job to do and they need the job as well. Just remember, a valuable team member is an asset to any company.

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I have a mentalism routine I use for presentations that involves a wooden board with several logo tiles depicting distractions in our lives. There are several social media logos, money, meaningless chatter etc. I have updated this board since Covid 19. It is used to demonstrate how distractions pull us away from our focus on what is important in life as well as business. Corona is both a distraction as well as a lesson to us all. Not all is negative about the super bug. There is one thing about all of this that is actually positive (to me at least), It reaffirmed to me the value of the topics I speak about for corporations. We have learned several new terms since the pandemic began but one cliche that sticks out to me more then any other is "social distancing." I think you will agree we had social distancing for well over 20 years now. The first text message was sent on 3 December 1992. Be honest, do you text members of your family within your home? Social distancing began even before texting. We have become a society of social distancing and Covid 19 made it more noticable then ever. Its a wake up call. More will be working from home now after Covid 19. Communicating with one another verbally is becoming less and less. We have become socially challenged with artificial intelligence and technology evolving more and more. As a leader, if you cannot meet face to face with your team often, you need to at least communicate with them verbally from time to time. Emails have become the norm for business; I get it but the written word is impersonal even before Covid 19. It got the job done and for most of your team it will suffice. But what about employees who are suffering? How will you know? It is something important to think about while you can. Motivation will not work with someone who is suffering.

Fear is one of the most powerful emotions a human being can feel. Once we feel like we are over our fear of one thing, another fear comes along. All of this becomes fear memory. Can one really become cured of a fear which has a basis in a traumatic event? I attempted to conquer my fear of heights by jumping out of a plane when I was 19 years old. I took the static line parachute class in the morning and did my first static line jump in the afternoon. I made three more static line jumps over the next few months until the Navy sailor I would ride with the the site had an accident. His main parachute failed to open and the emergency parachute had a partial malfunction landing him in the hospital for 6 months. That was enough for me; I still have a fear of heights.

You may have remembered reading about the Little Albert experiment of 1920 in which researchers created a fear response in a little baby. The researchers at John Hopkins University used animals and colors to condition and trigger little Albert's (actual name Douglas Merritte) fear response. Little has changed in the 100 years since that experiment. Fear memory is still alive in well in all of us whether we admit it or not.

Someone on your team may never get over this pandemic. This can affect not only the ones who went through the pandemic but even ones who compared it to other pandemics such as 1918 in which they never experiences. Dr Marc Siegel in his book False Alarm says this about fear:

Once a person has learned to fear something, he may always feel fear associated with that experience. But unlike mice, we humans can fear events we have only read or heard about, and so we worry about disasters we may never experience.

The news media ratings are through the roof as people have become glued to the TV during this pandemic. Never before have we had 24 hour news coverage on any one topic. Fear memory is compounded as the subconscious stores all of this data for future use. Communication has never been more important as we come out on the other side of this. Wounds can heal once your team can get focused on the team mission. The majority should be able to cope with the crisis. The calendar can be a friend and a healer as you put time behind you.

So what can you do as a leader to lead your team back to your organizational goals and objectives? First of all you want to ensure your team's physical safety until the final all clear is given. It may be a few years to see if those working from home actually works out better long term. But for now, how many employees can you have at your office and still ensure their safety? How many can continue to work from home? Mark Cuban (owner of the NBA Dallas Mavericks) said recently:

There's no reason to rush this. I'd rather err on the side of caution. I'm not going to tell people to go to work when I'm uncertain. Sending employees back to work too quickly may be "unforgivable" in the eyes of younger Americans, too, So not only is it smart to take care of your employees, but it's also good business and that's the way I'm looking at it.

Safety issues are continuing issues and should be addressed constantly for the next 1-2 years. This is the information age and your team is receiving an overload of information, much being untrue. The mind can only accept 3-7 chunks of information at a time. More then seven chunks, the brain becomes paralyzed. It freezes resulting in emotional and harmful decisions becoming probable. The "plague" mentality will be looming and competing against the freedom of human will. Once again, your team will be counting on you for the correct information. 

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Let's face it, things have changed and changed drastically. How has all of this affected your overall goals and objectives? How about your vision? If you need to reset goals, you must ensure that the workers in your business feel like they have a say in the new goals or new vision. Now, I’m not saying that they are the ones to dictate the vision to you, that would be wrong and counter-productive. Rather, you want to create a scenario where every worker feels as though they had a part in deciding where the company is going in the newest future.

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In order to motivate your team, you will need to revisit your mission as well and determine what needs to be tweaked. We are living in a different world now and although recovery has begun, many businesses have closed their doors and a new dawn has emerged. Ralph Waldo Emerson said: "write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year". Being thankful to still being in business after a disaster is a great start to any beginning. Now is the time for great minds to come together and create a future as a team. Be open to new ideas and allow everyone to be part of the new vision. Plan, but also try to stay in the moment listening to each member of your team for new ideas. A person who feels connected will automatically become motivated from within. They will become committed instead of merely complying.

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Remember, life is a marathon and not a sprint. Think long term. This has been a rude awakening and a wake up call. Many will remain in crisis long after the go ahead alert has been given. Our national leaders chose people over the economy. The economy suffered no doubt, but people are and have always been our top priority. There was no economy three thousand years ago. It has always been about the people. Great opportunities are all around us. This is when new billionaires emerge out of nowhere. You have a great mind, I know because I am a mentalist. Only great minds read my articles. Be thankful and move onward warrior. May the force be with you. You got this!