Written by: Emily Young // May 12, 2020
Last updated: May 12, 2020
Does your new work-from-home life fill you with existential dread? Are you juggling video conferences, homeschool sessions, and anxious grocery runs? You’re not alone. COVID-19 has turned all our lives upside down – including how we manage our jobs. But these lessons from the 2018 thriller A Quiet Place might help.
Just watching Emily Blunt and John Krasinski escape petal-faced monsters will make you forget all your Zoom anxieties. Plus, the thriller offers valuable messages about managing your life during a crisis (whether it’s a pandemic or a monster invasion). Let’s dive in to these five professional development lessons from A Quiet Place.
Wait, What’s A Quiet Place?
In the world of A Quiet Place, monsters prowl the earth, using their superior hearing to hunt humans. Survivors know that if they make the tiniest sound, a horde of predators will descend in seconds. As they navigate the world in fearful silence, Lee Abbott (John Krasinksi) and Evelyn Abbott (Emily Blunt) try to protect their children and prepare for the birth of their new baby. The film’s taut storyline emphasizes character development over cheap thrills, making it a resonant addition to the horror genre.
Although the sequel was set to release in March 2020, it has been delayed due to the coronavirus crisis.
Lesson No. 5: Crunch at Your Own Risk
The first scene centers around a stressful experience for the Abbott family: shopping at the supermarket. (Relatable, right?) Most shelves are empty, but the chip aisle is still fully stocked. Everyone in their world knows that one delicious crunch of a potato chip will attract a toothy monster. Then they’d be the crunchy snack.
The lesson is clear. Don’t let anyone hear you chew. This rule is essential for a monster-y apocalypse, but it’s also crucial for office settings. You don’t want to be known as the Noisy Eater. (In this USA Today article, an etiquette expert suggests you “stay away from overly crunchy food” when eating at your desk.)
Professional etiquette changes slightly with your new WFH life, where nobody is around to hear you munch. But beware of mixing snack time with Zoom meetings. Nobody wants to cringe through their headphones while you break open a bag of Cheetos. (Or at least make sure you know how to mute your mic.)
Lesson No. 4: Remember Moms Are Awesome
A typical day in Evelyn Abbott’s life means handwashing laundry (without splashing!), cooking fish (quietly!), fighting off the occasional monster, and teaching her son division (probably the scariest part, TBH). If you’re a mom during the coronavirus crisis, you are just as awesome. And possibly just as overwhelmed.
Give yourself permission to be imperfect. Your children may barge in during a video conference. Your brain may not be operating at full speed. That’s OK. “Being proactive with employers and co-workers and setting realistic expectations about what you can accomplish is necessary to prevent misunderstandings down the line,” explains this Vox article. A clinical psychologist quoted in the article suggests you limit yourself to five goals each day:
- One or two work-related goals
- One or two goals for your children
- One family activity (such as watching TV)
You’ve probably read articles that say you should be creating earth-shattering art during quarantine. (Shakespeare did it, didn’t he? Aren’t you as good as Shakespeare?!) Ignore them. As this New York Times writer says, “The internet wants you to believe you aren’t doing enough with all that ‘extra time’ you have now. But staying inside and attending to basic needs is plenty.” Do you see Evelyn Abbott penning a masterpiece between monster battles and store runs? No. She’s busy surviving. That’s good enough for us, too.
Lesson No. 3. Make Time for Happiness
In the Abbotts’ world, every sound is dangerous – even laughter. But the family still finds time for happiness. In one of the most poignant scenes, Evelyn and Lee slow dance to headphone music (reminding us why Emily and John are our favorite celebrity couple).
Our world feels pretty scary too, but happiness is possible. “Enjoying certain moments does not deny that you are also sad, scared, worried or anxious. Allowing yourself some kind of pleasurable, compassionate, loving moments will replenish your emotional inventory, so you are also equipped to help others,” says a psychotherapist quoted in this Washington Post article.
Make time for happiness by building quick, restorative activities into your workday. You can start by taking our 30-day wellness challenge.
Lesson No. 2. Embrace the Quiet
COVID-19 may not be an alien monster, but dang has it placed us in A Very Quiet Place. Forget work conferences and client dinners, birthday parties and weddings, weekend trips and summer vacation plans. Our schedules have been scrubbed. It’s hard to navigate the stillness of our new existence. But this silence can be an opportunity for personal growth.
“We must first succeed alone, that we may enjoy our success together,” wrote Henry David Thoreau. A recent New York Times article describes how we can follow Thoreau’s example and pursue “constructive solitude” as we shelter in place. Follow Thoreau’s lead:
- Start meditating.
- Read widely.
- Connect with nature (even if it’s just in your backyard).
Embracing silence may even make us better employees. “Recent studies are showing that taking time for silence restores the nervous system, helps sustain energy, and conditions our minds to be more adaptive and responsive to the complex environments in which so many of us now live, work, and lead,” explains this article in the Harvard Business Review.
Lesson No. 1. Practice Courage
We’d all like to imagine that we’d be as brave as the Abbotts. (Especially in that gut-wrenching finale … you know what I’m talking about.) But we don’t have to wait until man-eating monsters arrive to test our courage. In fact, bravery is a learned skill. Here are a few ways to cultivate courage:
- Practice moral courage, not just physical courage. “The critical truth of courageous leadership lies in how we live every day, not just the flashes of the extreme,” explains this Washington Post article written by a military officer. For example, “Would you speak up for a coworker if your boss were speaking inappropriately about them, or is that something you just pretend you would do?”
- Teach yourself to accept the possibility of failure or imperfection.
- Take note of all the ways you exhibit courage, and remind yourself to keep being brave.
Life is complicated right now, but we are all in this together. While we wait for things to get back to normal (and for the Quiet Place sequel to release!), why not pursue your professional development goals? USF is ready to support you through our Office of Corporate Training and Professional Education. Contact us at 813-974-0950 to find out how we can help you during this time.