Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Virus? How to be Intentional When You Are Scared. An Interview with Public Innovator Rich Harwood (Part 2)


Intentional choices can be hard in the best of times. What’s necessary as opposed to nice? How do we choose between things that are all necessary when we can’t have them all? How can we be confident about decisions? How can we explain our decisions to other people? These things are infinitely more difficult in the face of fear and uncertainty, which all of us are experiencing in degrees during the COVID-19 pandemic and worldwide shutdown.

I spoke with Rich Harwood, a Public Innovator and Founder of the Harwood Institute, the go-to place for people and organizations looking for ways to fight against the negative conditions stifling progress in society. They teach and coach people from all walks of life how to move society forward by building stronger communities, bridging divides and creating a culture of shared responsibility.

Rich shared three fundamental things we have to do to make better choices in moments like this. The first is a basic as they come: Breathe. When we get scared, we literally, physically, stop breathing. We have to remind ourselves to breathe because it calms us. It centers and grounds us and helps us manage the anxiety we feel.

The second thing is to become more wakeful. Opening our eyes and being more attuned. Leaning in instead of leaning away. Like children that hide under the covers from monsters, we have to pull the covers back and look around. We make good choices when we are turned outward, but when we feel pressure we instinctively hunker down and turn inward.

Finally, we need to be more intentional. This means making discernments. Which is to say, thoughtful judgments between priorities and possibilities. The more discernments we can make, the more explicit our choices become, and the more confident we get that we are taking our best shot. Telling someone to be more confident is like telling someone in a panic to calm down. It only makes them panic more. What we can say is to grow your confidence by becoming more intentional and making better discernments.

To see clips of my interview with Rich Harwood, please look here:


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