• Kerri Burchill, PhD

Sometimes you just need a pig


So my in-laws gave our dog this squeaky pig for Christmas. Normally, our dog devours such loud and obnoxious toys, but not this pig. She carries it with her. Everywhere. It is front-and-center in her world. She gingerly picks it up to carry it outside or to her various resting spots in the house (OK, she is a little spoiled!).


The dog's focus on her priorities has me think of several analogies with leadership and where our workforce is during this dynamic. I am reflective of two phases I have noticed as I work with leaders through the pandemic.

First: The dark cave phase: When the pandemic first broke out, people hunkered down. Traffic was eerily quiet. People were cautious, arguably confused. We scrambled to understand this new reality. It was a time when most of us went into that dark cave. More self-reflection. We explored what really matters to us, what we honestly need (or don’t).


Second: The yo-yo phase: Now, almost 11 months into the pandemic, it seems to be more of a yo-yo. People breaking societal norms. Others hunkering down into isolation even more. Some days we feel hopeful with the pandemic, other days the oppressing thought enters our minds that it will never end. We yo-yo.


My pointed observation is that the yo-yo phase feels harder than the dark cave phase.


So back to the pig analogy and the pictures above. Our dog has figured out what she needs and she is keeping it front-and-center.


In our space of fatigue, we are going to naturally yo-yo, which only further depletes our energy and resources. So like the dog, let yourself feel what you feel, and advocate for what you need. Not everything under the sun. A list that is true to you. When you get to that truth, the list of what you really need may be surprisingly short. Claim it. Stick to it and with it. Your yo-yoing will be less extreme and your energy and resources will be greater Ultimately, we need you stable because your stability fuels your success. And your success will help us build our new reality.


I think of this pig analogy in relation to a VP I coach in a healthcare setting. We noticed a trend where the leader was pulled in different directions, yo-yoing to and with the pandemic. We slowed down together, metaphorically figured out what and where the pig was, and began strategically stabilizing the yo-yos. The result? Better and more focused problem solvers on the VP's leadership team.

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