What Challenges Teach Us: 5 Pandemic-Inspired Lessons That Will Benefit The World in the Long Run

The COVID-19 pandemic that we are all experiencing is frightening and life-changing. It’s one of those things we’ll tell our grandchildren about, like how life changed during the World Wars or the Great Depression.


It is larger than many earlier societal revolutions, not just because of its catastrophic effects but also because it affects so many of us all at once, transforming every element of life from the most important (job, money, health) to the most ordinary (the availability of basic products).

Anything this large opens the door to new ways of thinking. If the size of the crisis is related to the quantity of new learning it can generate, our brilliance will undoubtedly be magnified many-fold when we emerge in the new normal.

In general, new and broadened perspectives of view are beneficial. Indeed, the word “emergency” derives from the Latin “emergere,” which means “to spring up or out.” Here are a few lessons we’ll undoubtedly learn as we improve our capabilities for the years ahead:

Perspective-Taking Lessons

Patience. When his toddler son became anxious, a friend of ours would remark, “Push your patience button.” This is an excellent opportunity to learn how to do the same for yourself. Whether you’re hoping for your work to resume normalcy, waiting for the quarantine to be lifted, or simply waiting to eat at your favorite restaurant again, patience is the word of the game. Patience is a virtue, and you’re working on it right now.


The Big Picture. With a narrow viewpoint, current reality can be even more difficult; however, by taking a longer-term perspective, you can reassure yourself that current realities will evolve and those wonderful things will come—in the end—from today’s events and lessons. “Someone is sitting in the shade now because someone else planted a tree a long time ago,” Warren Buffet said. A study conducted by the Boston University School of Medicine discovered that a sense of long-term purpose in the children of centenarians contributed to happiness. We are living in a devastating epoch. “When I was a little girl, I thought history was something that occurred to other people,” my friend Anita says. The lesson is that we are living in a period of history that is part of a larger whole, and we will get through it.


According to research, empathy is the most important leadership skill, which explains why U.S. talent shortages are at a 10-year high.

You Probably Need More Friends—How Here’s to Make Them Resilience and Response Lessons

Adaptability. Everything feels off-kilter, out of balance, and unpredictable at the moment. You constantly need to reset and reorient yourself. Just as you’ve gotten used to your firm sending you home to work, you’ll have to get used to a wage drop. Or, if your partner has been furloughed from work, you must adjust to your children’s school being closed for the rest of the school year. Constant change can be problematic, and it isn’t easy to deal with both mentally and emotionally. But, according to research, having a clear picture of reality, a sense of meaning, and the ability to improvise increases resilience. Furthermore, according to University of Twente professor de Weerd-Nederhof, resilience is both a personality attribute and a skill. Hard times may be easier if it’s part of your character, but it’s also a skill (a muscle, actually) that you can develop in the midst of today’s difficulties.