No, I am not using an impending war as a punch line, like this email I got this morning, subject line: Ukraine War. “The situation on the ground in Ukraine might not feel close to home, but, when it comes to protecting your company’s IT security…”
That marketing pivot felt like an out of touch stretch. But I do wonder (please tell me I’m not alone) how to focus on work in the face of a serious world calamity. It’s the opposite of being in college and wishing for a catastrophe to get out of finishing a paper due the next morning. Now it’s realizing this is serious, this is big, and I have a client call in an hour and an article due after that.
Three ways to focus on work in the face of impending war.
Remember, our brains are hardwired to protect us. Words like “war” and “invasion” can trigger high alert. They activate our nervous system even if you’re sitting in your office, in the shower or at the kitchen table. You are likely completely safe right now, in the moment.
In the hopes of saving you the four hours it took to get me to my desk this morning, here are three tricks to keep your head in the game and focused on what you need to do in the present:.
Pretend you are not the boss and call your boss.
Hello, this is Deanna. I can’t come to work today because of the imminent war in Ukraine.”
“What the X#$%,” your boss might say. “Get to work now!”
Connect with people more closely related to the topic.
Per a suggestion from another friend (I knew I wasn’t the only one thinking this way!) I sent notes to colleagues from Ukraine to see how they were doing and let them know I was thinking about them and their family. (My family escaped from Ukraine just before the 1917 Russian revolution).
One person responded that they didn’t think it would be that bad, that Russia would back down. Another said “if he invades blood will flow. Ukrainians are no pussycats!” One more shared a link for an NFT project to help people there who are already starting to flee in anticipation.
As added measure, I invited a Homeland Security expert as my guest for next week’s Intercultural Spark monthly “Tech Talk” series (see below).
Doom scroll for good.
Set your timer for five minutes and indulge yourself to scroll the headlines. But stop when the alarm goes off. It’s so easy to go down a doomsday rabbit hole. Note as you are reading articles which are pure speculation and how many are stating what has happened. Neither are great but there is a difference.
Then scroll for good. Learn something new. What else is going on this month? Hey, it’s Black History Month! Having written articles for clients about people of color driving the drone industry and another about how freedom and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth’s legacy is remembered by her 6th great-granddaughter, I set the alarm for five more minutes and scrolled about people of color who have transformed the marketing industry, like Tom Burrell who founded Burrell Communications and created the Black Marlboro Man, Edward Lewis, the co-founder of Essence and a multitude of Black creators today.
Other than that, fill your gas tank today (that’s literal, not metaphorical) and avoid speculative conversations that start with “If this happens in Ukraine, next China will do it with Taiwan and Hong Kong.”
Wishing you a productive day!