Find the good in everything, they say. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. This year we’ve been hit by a pandemic that has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, unprecedented unemployment, and a global economic downturn. In the face of such a tragedy—personal and collective—it might appear that the response to those statements is “How is that even possible?”
However, there will come a time where we will be able to reflect on the long-term consequences of the global pandemic and what it has brought for each of us as individuals and for our organizations, communities, and nations. Certainly, those outcomes will include some good along with the bad. According to the Harvard Business Review over the past 25 years psychologists have been studying this phenomenon referred to as posttraumatic growth.
Psychologists have learned that negative experiences including people who have endured war, natural disasters, bereavement, job loss and economic stress, serious illnesses and injuries, can spur positive change, including a recognition of personal strength, the exploration of new possibilities, improved relationships, a greater appreciation for life, and spiritual growth. Despite the hardships resulting from the coronavirus, many of us can expect to make lemonade and develop in beneficial ways in its aftermath. And strong leaders can help others to do so.
Although it is said that posttraumatic growth happens naturally, without intervention, it can be facilitated in five ways: through education, emotional regulation, disclosure, narrative development, and service. You can emerge stronger yourself. And you can serve as what we call an expert companion for your colleagues/employees, encouraging introspection and curiosity, actively listening, and offering compassionate feedback.
The Five Elements of Growth