As I was traveling to the North Shore of Lake Superior, I came across some ground fog. Ground fog is created when the damp ground cools adjacent air causing the air temperature to fall and reach the dew point. This fog lies close to the ground and can create difficult driving conditions – even while the rest of the sky is generally clear.

I experienced this fog intermittently along my drive to the North Shore. As I was driving, I would see clear skies and visibility with the fog only being seen in the distance. As I approached the patch of fog, visible clarity disappeared and I couldn’t see more than five feet ahead of me. It struck me that this kind of ground fog was a good metaphor for our lives right now as we are living in prolonged disruption

Expect patches of fog

In a prolonged disruption, like a pandemic, we will experience days where the road ahead is clear and foreseeable. On other days, we will experience unexpected fog in the distance that we will need strategies to get through. 

I offer these suggestions to help us get through the fog:

  1. Slow down when your vision is impaired by the“fog” – i.e., what you don’t know and can’t fully see. In a car, when your visibility drops to 5 feet, going fast is dangerous because you can’t see your surroundings. Slowing down is a way to know what lies ahead and avoid an accident. 
  2. Look for the markers that keep you safe. Driving slowly is a start, but the lines in the center of the road are to keep you in your lane. Looking for signs that you are making progress and doing so safely helps you stay on course.
  3. Keep moving. Sometimes there is a temptation to stop and pull off to the side of the road when the future is unknown, but pulling off the road is not always as safe as you might expect. Nature is in constant motion and when that stops, we begin regressing because we are no longer evolving. Nature reinforces the strategy of staying in motion.

These three strategies can help you get through times of intermittent fog during prolonged disruption. One aspect of ground fog is that if you keep moving (with safety in mind) you get through it, and the fog will begin to break apart as you begin to regain clear vision. In our work, COVID-19 has impacted many of the dynamics that used to be predictable. Strengthening our ability to let go of what used to be predictable and continuing to move into the future is an essential leadership skill.