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The 'Great Pause' Can Lead to the 'Great Comeback'

by on June 23, 2020 4:00 AM

During this time of the “Great Pause” I’d like to share a few signs that are spread throughout our house that I see, intentionally, every day to lift my spirits and guide me.

In our master bedroom suite: “Simplify!” “The biggest mistake you could ever make is being afraid to make one.” “Life always offers you a second chance… It’s called tomorrow.”

In my office: “Do not pray for an easy life. Pray to be a strong person.” “Success is not something that happens in the future. It is made up of little steps taken right now.”

Then there is this one that is in our first-floor bathroom: “I’d rather wear out than rust out!”

That is one of my all-time favorites.

All of these are so applicable to today’s COVID-19 environment. Each of us has to decide what risks we are willing to take by venturing back out into a changed world. Provided of course, that we wear masks and practice safe distancing, as much, if not more so, out of respect for others, and without judgement. For those of you who feel comfortable, get out and re-engage!  Shop locally and support downtown businesses. Get outside and enjoy all that Happy Valley has to offer. 

For the locals here in Happy Valley, explore these websites to learn how you can re-engage if you are ready: 

Happy Valley Adventure Bureau

Downtown State College

Chamber of Business & Industry of Centre County

Before I go any farther, I hope all the fathers out there had a great Father’s Day.  For our family, a silver lining of the “Great Pause” has been four months of having all three of our kids at home. My Father’s Day weekend started with Friday night out in downtown State College with our two older kids. Saturday morning coffee club at Cafe Lemont and a round of golf with my daughter and youngest son. Sunday started with a bike ride to get coffee and relax in Tudek Park, followed by brunch at the Original Waffle Shop. The afternoon included a hike around Lake Perez at Stone Valley, steaks on the grill and a fire in our fire pit. It was one of the most relaxing and memorable Father’s Day weekends ever. Making lemonade out of lemons. 

You see, if it wasn’t for the Great Pause, this priceless time with my wife and adult children may have never occurred. Funny how external events outside our control can lead to getting our priorities straight. 

That got me thinking about the future, about the time when we will all feel comfortable going to public places and re-engaging with life and community other than digitally. I am very appreciative of the technology that has enabled us to stay connected during the pandemic but give me old-fashioned in person contact and socializing anytime. Zoom fatigue is real!

I have written about this briefly in prior columns but it needs to be repeated. What are you doing to set yourself and your family up for post-pandemic success? Are you positioning yourself to be an active participant in the “Great Comeback?”

If you plan to be a part of the positive change that can emerge from this reset opportunity we have been given, what are you doing to make it so? How are you spending your time during the “Great Pause?”

I know that COVID-19 affects everyone differently depending on your circumstances. Some of you are busier than ever between longer work hours from having to switch to virtual and taking care of your kids as homeschool teacher’s aides.

But many of you also have newfound free time on your hands. Are you preparing to re-engage? Are you going to be ready for the post-COVID-19 world (whenever that may come)? 

This message is really for those of you who have been negatively impacted the most. You were laid off, furloughed, getting half pay, had your hours cut back, job eliminated, lost your benefits or your business closed. 

Are you sitting at home playing the victim? Are you throwing yourself a pity party? I get it. We had been in the midst of one of the longest bull markets in history, the economy was booming, unemployment at record lows, and the stock market reaching record highs. It all seemed too good to be true and it turned out it was.

One minute, things were seemingly rolling along smoothly. But just as though that supervillain Thanos snapped his fingers, it all went haywire. One of the smallest organisms known to man invaded our world and shook us to our knees.

So how are you choosing to handle it? Spending time ranting on social media about who’s to blame? The Chinese? The World Health Organization (WHO)? World leaders and politicians? How’s that working out for you? Make you feel better for getting it off your chest? Who are you blaming? Are you just complaining? Are you always judging? 

STOP IT! Just stop it. Stop getting into useless comment battles with keyboard warriors. I remind you of the old saying, with all due respect to the sow species, “Don’t try to teach a pig to sing. You’re going to fail and just annoy the pig.”

Where are you wasting time online? Are you allowing yourself to be programmed? Do you really gain anything from engaging in a ‘no-win’ social media squabble with someone who you have zero chance of verbally sparring in such a way that you will shift their thoughts?

This past weekend gave me cause to re-evaluate where I spend my time digitally. I thought long and hard but made some “pragmatic” decisions.

I did it. I got rid of Instagram, Twitter and the iPhone News app. I am also limiting my time on Facebook. Why didn’t I ditch Facebook? Mostly because I need some social media presence for my business. I have even cut back on LinkedIn because it has also become more littered with nonsensical posts that waste brain power.

Why did I do it? Because it was not adding value to my life. It was getting in the way of my comeback plans. The time is much better spent learning intentionally from digital platforms that add value and can help me see new horizons and ideas.

We get so easily distracted by technology and forget to ask ourselves why some of it matters in our life. Do you really care what some celebrity, media host or professional athlete wants to tell you about life, money or politics? The real question is: are you consuming everything out there as though it's fact from a credible source?  

Don’t put negative junk in your brain or your body.

Spend your time and energy thinking about the opportunities that will exist in the future. What are your aspirations? What can get you closer to that goal? Use this time wisely. Keep learning and keep exploring. But remember that knowledge isn’t power; applying knowledge is power.

Some of the greatest innovations of all time come out of times of crisis Ingenuity and innovation are the tools of the Great Comeback. Mary Shelley, the English novelist, said, “Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos.” Spend your time in the space of what you can control and what can be.

Next to my computer in my office sits another prominently displayed quote from George Bernard Shaw. “You see things and you say ‘why?’ But I dream of things that never were and I say ‘Why not?” That is the mindset of aspirations and dreams that can come true.  Be intentional, be deliberate, and get ready to be part of the Great Comeback.



Joe Battista has been an integral part of the Penn State and State College communities since 1978. He is best known for his effort to bring varsity ice hockey to Happy Valley and in the building of Pegula Ice Arena. “JoeBa” is the owner of PRAGMATIC Passion, LLC consulting, a professional speaker, success coach, and the vice president of the National Athletic and Professional Success Academy (NAPSA). He is the author of a new book, “The Power of Pragmatic Passion.” Joe lives in State College with his wife Heidi (PSU ’81 & ’83), daughter Brianna (PSU ’15), and son’s Jon (PSU ’16), and Ryan (State High Class of 2019).
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