Summoning Individual Discipline, Social Stamina and National Unity a la Governor Cuomo

I just heard the most unifying presentation by Governor Cuomo today.

I encourage you to watch it in its entirety.

It’s clear what Cuomo appears to be doing for us – and not just NYC. What is equally clear is what he is calling upon from us to do.

What struck me was his call for us to exercise individual discipline, social stamina and national unity and caused me to try to unpack those to make them more doable by you and me.

1. Individual Discipline

This comes down to exercising self-restraint and not giving into immediate impulses. Dan Sullivan is the co-founder of the Strategic Coach and years ago I heard him say something about self-discipline that has stuck with me.

In essence, he suggested that we rid ourselves of that term, because we mainly use it to criticize others or ourselves for lacking it.  What Sullivan preferred was the term “habits.” He explained that productive, happy and successful people have different habits than unproductive, unhappy and unsuccessful people.

“Habits,” Sullivan explained, “are discrete changes in observable behaviors that are practiced every day for about a month at which time they become a habit and take less energy to maintain.  If you then keep doing them for three to six months, they become internalized into your personality where they take almost no energy to maintain.”

I am already seeing that happening with washing my hands and not touching my face. I remember just a couple weeks ago when I heard about that direction, how nearly impossible it felt to not touch my face. Now unless I am kidding myself, I can report that I am doing a good job of both. They both still take effort and I have to consciously remind myself still, so I haven’t yet fully turned them into a habit, but I believe that will happen soon.

Another way to help develop those habits is to calendar them.  As my good friend, Clark Vautier, is used to saying, “We always guard our calendar.” What that means is that once we write something down in our calendar it greatly increases the chance of our doing it.  Therefore your calendar may be your best aid in developing the habits that will result in increasing your individual discipline.

2. Social stamina

This comes down to changing our natural ways of being social with each other as it pertains to close physical contact and replacing it with any and all ways to sustain a connection to other people while maintaining that distance. That translates into eliminating hugging, kissing and probably sex because although we might be safe from the waist down, unless you’re both over seven feet tall, you’re not going to maintain a six feet distance between your mouths. And you don’t have to just cough to have infectious droplets spread. I suppose you might use N95 masks – that might even make it kinky – but I think you’re getting the gist.

Another and even more difficult part of social stamina is not giving into how anxiety makes people more irritable and snappy at each other.  It takes self-discipline, self-restraint and stamina to prevent that from happening.

Something else you can take from Cuomo’s briefing is the loving acknowledgment and concern he feels for his brother Chris who is infected with Covid-19.  Clearly Governor Cuomo is not that comfortable expressing soft and mushy things, but his doing it and doing is so publicly is a reminder and suggestion for all of us to overcome our awkwardness and do the same thing.

3. National Unity

We don’t have the luxury of Democrats bashing Republicans or vice versa.  We don’t have the luxury of people who stir the pot or are divisive to deflect accountability and responsibility away from them. I love Cuomo’s call to have all the United States come to New York and NYC to get it through and then for New York to return the favor and Covid-19 works its way South and West to ignite other hotspots.

Something that we can each do to help that is to each day think of one thing we can each do to help at least one other human being have an easier time making it through each day.  Who can we deliver food to that can’t get it? Who and where can we donate money and supplies and objects from the “excess” that so many people have lying around their homes? Etc.

In your comments, please build upon these great calls to action by Governor Cuomo.

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