The last year-plus has challenged everyone in some way. The Covid-19 pandemic has created havoc worldwide. I recall having conversations early in the pandemic about the long-term effects we would suffer. I was not sure what they would be, but I knew there would be lingering consequences following the pandemic.

We are beginning to see what some of those lasting effects are. Time may never bridge the educational gaps created by time missed in the classroom. Commercial office space is in flux as more people now have the option of staying home. Businesses closed and will never reopen. This last one will continue to grow as the smoke continues to clear.

One of the lasting effects I am beginning to notice is the behavior and responses of people. These effects will have long-lasting implications for culture. Some of them can be changed, while awareness and management can only curb others that are still impacting the community. Here are my 5 Thursday Thoughts.

People are more fearful
Anxiety seems to be at an all-time high. Anxiety expresses itself as fear about multiple situations. People are anxious about their health, their family, their finances, their careers, their retirement. The slightest indication of a problem can turn into panic. As I write this, a gas pipeline is down in the southeast. Even though they clearly said there was enough gas for everyone provided the pipeline was back running within a week, people started panicking and lines formed at gas stations, and they soon were out of gas. This response was born out of fear, not out of fact.

People are more skeptical
Who do you believe? Do you believe the politicians? The scientists? The medical professionals? The media? Over the last 18 months, facts and opinions have evolved at a rapid pace. People we should trust have contradicted themselves multiple times. Exaggerations have been used to get attention. The result is that no one knows who to believe, and thus they start to believe who is most comfortable. Few things will disintegrate culture like mistrust.

People are angrier
Arguments. Fights. Riots. Rage. It shows up everywhere. From our capital to social media feeds. Anger is becoming the default emotion. There is no more dangerous emotion than anger. The fear, skepticism, and isolation I am addressing here only fuel this fire of rage burning through our land. There have been very few problems solved with anger and outrage, but many were created.

People are more isolated
One of the most evident outcomes is isolation. Isolation did not start with Covid. It was already becoming a problem in society as people lost their personal connections for a more shallow digital connection. The pandemic only accelerated this problem. Leaders forced us to isolate ourselves from one another for our protection. In the meantime, we may have made other problems worse. Isolation affects social skills, learning, and mental illness, just to name a few. Everyone needs to be alone from time to time, but loneliness and isolation are rarely healthy.

People are less hopeful
People who are not religious are speculating about the end of the world. I have to admit, just writing this clouds my ability to see a brighter future. I tend to see the future as more promising and wake each day with expectancy, but there are significant challenges that lie ahead. There have been situations created that a return to “normalcy” will not easily rectify. There are plenty of statistics that show the average person is less hopeful about tomorrow than they were 5 or 10 years ago. Hope is not a strategy. I get that. But it can be buoyant to our attitude until a plan is developed and a solution is found. As a person of faith, hope is one of three things that endures: faith, hope, and love. When hope fades, despair can overwhelm.

Seeing these things as a leader requires me to make adjustments moving forward. I cannot pretend these obstacles are not here. I can acknowledge them and find effective ways to move forward. You cannot pretend there are no lasting effects. What you can do is work to overcome them and find ways to lead your family and your community back to health.

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