COVID-19 Pandemic: This is a Marathon We’re Running

Leslie Yerkes

By Leslie Yerkes, president, Catalyst Consulting Group, Inc.

This is a marathon — have you done the training?

Smarter people than me have said that “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” (Benjamin Franklin).

Unfortunately, when the crisis arises, the time to plan is minimal. If you didn’t do it when you could then you will be running to catch up.

I have a hunch that life has been your teacher and that the events of your life and the experience of those around you could cumulatively become the plan and “marathon training” that you need at this moment.

None of us prepared for this exact situation — however, ask yourself: What in your lifetime of experience has provided you with the opportunity to learn how to deal with the elements of this crisis? And who, around you, can you ask to engage their minds and vital experience to think, plan and then do what needs to be done in a situation in which none of us are experts?

Break it done into smaller pieces.


Einstein said, “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

  • Engage as much information and as many people as possible while making the decisions in the timeframe necessary.
  • Find your grounding. Use your values to measure the rightness of your direction.
  • Communicate. Communicate and communicate some more.
  • Care about each person, each decision and each action. Keep the long view in focus. Ask yourself, “Will this decision and action hold up seven years from now? What consequences will it create?”

If you had to jump into a marathon and run the race without the training, what would be your strategy?

A paraplegic climber was making his ascent on a difficult mountain that would challenge good climbers without his disability. He was asked, “How do you manage? What makes this impossible feat possible for you?” He responded, “I climb, one handhold at a time. I do not look at the summit, but simply plan my next move.”

Let’s take inspiration from this climber. Let’s live “one day at a time.” Let’s make the best of each day and each interaction. Let’s plan to be better for having made this journey. None of us is exempt from the experience. Within this marathon, there will be time to pause and plan how we will respond, recover and be prepared. Be relevant to the moment. Be innovative and adapt. Seize this opportunity to run a race that you can be proud of having the courage to engage. It won’t be without suffering or loss. At times we will have to walk. Cultivate hope but turn it into action. As another role model of mine said, “It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan” (Eleanor Roosevelt).

Be safe, be well and be kind.

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