While we wear masks in an effort to contribute to the over-all health of our communities, the experience can feel stifling and uncomfortable. It can give us a new appreciation for a free flow of oxygen.

Pre-pandemic, many organizations were operating in an environment with the ample “oxygen” of easy money, generous stock valuations, and ample customers—even while bemoaning the fast pace of change (which in hindsight can appear sluggish compared to what we have experienced in the last couple months).

Things are a lot tougher now.

So what should leaders do in these uncomfortable times? In addition to organizing your team to be more creative (which I have written about extensively) I suggest the following:

Take a breath. Make sure you are taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally. This means having good physical routines, connecting regularly with others who can elevate you, and getting a good amount of quality downtime.

“Workout” with others. Find success teams that can support every aspect of your life. This means being diligent in creating the very best teams that can support you at work, in peer groups, at home, and even with hobbies.

List up positive signs. Keeping our minds programmed to recognize positive developments is essential if we are going to be positioned to take advantage of new opportunities. Three I noticed from this past week include: 1)United Airlines offering fast testing for those who want to fly to Hawaii and avoid quarantine restrictions, 2)an executive recruiter colleague is seeing lots of requests coming for new positions in the upcoming quarter, and 3)the PAC-12 will play a partial football season (a prudent recognition that the show must go on, while taking all available precautions).

The next several months will require us all to continue to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Things will get better, but we will need to continue to keep ourselves in top condition along the way. …and that may require that we get comfortable with taking really good care of ourselves.