“When can we go back to normal?”

LA Marsh

by Sheila Fain LaMarsh Global

Sheila FainHow many of your conversations start with: “When we get back to normal…”?  Around the world, the COVID-19 outbreak is disrupting every routine and plan. We are in the midst of a change that was not deliberate or desired.  One response is to tolerate and endure this new reality in the hope that we can return to life as we knew it before the global outbreak.  In this situation, there’s another option. When it is not possible to control change, we can adapt to our new environment and learn from the experience.

The typical change sequence is:

Desired State



The current state is our definition of “normal” and the desired state is where we hope to be when the change is complete. The process to transition from the current to the desired state is the change state.  In many change efforts, the change is initiated because there are clear and defined benefits in achieving the desired state. A purpose or goal is identified, and then we determine the optimal path to go from our current to the desired state.  However, that sequence is not always possible – there are scenarios where the change was not anticipated or planned such as COVID.

In the situation we are experiencing with the COVID-19 outbreak, it is understandable that the preferred change sequence may be:

Current State



We hope to return to a state that we understand – where our current health and economic struggles did not exist. And we want to avoid achieving a state that is less desirable than what we are used to.  In hopes of returning to normal, we are tolerating the change and waiting until it is over.

To learn and adapt, use coaching.  After all, coaching is a tool that supports change management and is a tool for exploring the possibilities when change is neither anticipated nor planned.  During coaching certification, powerful questioning is a skill that is developed.  Questions during COVID that help include:

  • What are the challenges you are facing?
  • What changes have you experienced?
  • Given the new circumstances, what do you want to change?
  • What is your ideal outcome?


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