Getting Back to Business as Usual

by Alli Polin on April 19, 2013

getting back to business as usual for leaders

I’ve sat down at my computer several times this week to write a new post.  Willing myself to take my mind off of the Boston Marathon bombing and refocus it on my clients, writing, networking etc.  Just go back to business as usual.  I’m going to be honest with you – I’m doing a terrible job of it.  After a lot of thought, I realized that I just didn’t want to post an upbeat piece on leadership and began to think about the leaders that are helping everyone else process and move through this experience.

There have been a lot of great posts written lately about how leaders can help their teams refocus and give them the space they need to simply be human as they process these unimaginable events.  What about the leader, or the parent, or the teacher the doctor, or HR?  They are the ones who are supposed to be strongest helping others to process and move forward.

If you’re struggling and find yourself battling depression, seek professional help.  If you’re processing, feeling and learning your way though the after effects of the crisis, read on.

How do you get back into the routine of business as usual when your heart isn’t in it?

Don’t Make Assumptions

There is no badge for being unshaken when tragedy strikes.  Many of us are quick to assume that since we don’t live nearby the center of events, it’s easier to get back to business as usual.  Truth is, even after a few days have passed, many hearts and heads, including your own, are still distraught and distracted.

Say it Out Loud

Say what many people are thinking.  “I know that it feels awkward and even inappropriate to have this meeting now when many of us, including myself, are distracted, sad and remain concerned about the bombings at the Boston Marathon.  Let’s pull together and do the best we can.”

Go Easy on Yourself Too

If you notice that you’re having trouble focusing, get up and go for a walk or go grab a cup of coffee.  Take a deep breath.  Read a fiction book at night and get lost for a little while in a great story.  It’s what you’d advise your employees to do, right?

Don’t Obsess

Checking every five minutes is not productive.  Not only does it stop you from focusing on your work but also keeps your mind hyper-engaged looking for answers and updates that you cannot control.  Watch the news, log on to news sites for updates, just don’t do it 24/7.

Work it Out

I’ve been running more this week which is not only healthy for me to do all the time but this week in particular it’s been a great way to clear my head and practice mindfulness.  Being in the moment with the sun shining, the breeze blowing as my feet hit the pavement.

Do a Mitzvah

If you don’t know what a Mitzvah is, it’s a good deed.  As I sit and wonder how someone could be so evil that they would plot to hurt so many others, I also think about the people who were impacted.  Mothers, Fathers, Students, Children, Lawyers, Doctors, Runners, Coaches… good people with lives that will never be the same.

I can’t honor the victims by boiling over with rage or sadness but I can honor them by donating money to support their recovery and doing a good deed in their honor.  If we all do at least one Mitzvah, we’re also taking back control from the darkness and evil in the world, showing them that hate will never triumph over the goodness of humanity.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”  ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Yes, we will go back to business as usual but it doesn’t have to be today.  Give yourself time to process, to grieve, and help the best you can.

What good deed will you do?

(Photo credit)

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Chery Gegelman April 19, 2013 at 8:37 am

Alli – Thank you for reflecting what so many of us feel after a tragedy! In the midst of the struggle you offer profoundly simple and yet powerful advice!


Alli Polin April 19, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Many thanks, Chery! I know I’ve struggled with being so far from the USA during this time but with my heart there, and positive action, I can still make a difference. Thinking of you on Sesame Street!


Terri Klass April 19, 2013 at 10:55 am

Such a heartfelt post, Alli. I too have felt frozen at times and unable to work at full steam. Even felt de-energized. At times like this we cloud up our minds. I love your ideas of not beating ourselves up and just removing ourselves from our work and taking a walk around. I sometimes reach for the phone and speak to a friend, sister, daughters or my husband. Anyway to make us feel safe again. Thanks so much for your terrific post!


Alli Polin April 19, 2013 at 8:23 pm

Terri – Thank you for the reminder that we can also reach for the phone. Sometimes even a five minute conversation with family and friends can help us reset, refocus and take that much needed beat. Thank you so much for your comment and sharing that you’ve been there too.


Alice Chan April 22, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Thank you, Alli, for being so genuine and authentic. And great advice, too. One of the most important steps not to bypass in dealing with tragedy is to acknowledge feelings, which you wrote above really well here. And then, we can proceed to do constructive things to move past the tragedy, such as exercising, processing our reactions in a supportive manner, thinking about the good samaritans and those affected–and you laid out good points for doing all that. Thank you, Alli!


Alli Polin April 23, 2013 at 3:42 am

Alice, You’re right – it does start with the acknowledgement of feelings. Feelings aren’t something to shove down and ignore, but a part of the human experience. It’s impossible to truly move forward without noticing what’s going on within ourselves. Always appreciate your perspectives and insights, Alice!


Chrysta Bairre April 23, 2013 at 9:43 am

Great post! When tragedy strikes it affects us all deeply, and it should, but we also need to continue to live our lives while remembering and honoring those lives lost.

Thanks for this!



Alli Polin April 23, 2013 at 9:53 pm

Thanks, Chrysta! I think my struggle was to continue to live my life and acknowledge my desire to honor those lives lost and people that were hurt and continue to live their lives forever changed. A great way to move forward is to take action on our desire to connect and support.

Many thanks for your comment!


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