Fighting Isolation and Loneliness on Your Remote Team

Remarkable Leadership Institute

For many people, working from home during COVID has been a big success. At least it’s worked better than many people anticipated. But the longer it goes on and the more uncertainty there is about what the return to the office will look like, or even if it will occur, the more we have to deal with a hidden and very destructive force—isolation and loneliness.

As the leader, you may even be feeling some of this yourself. Even as an admitted curmudgeon who has worked remotely for almost two decades, I know that there’s a whole world outside my window I’m not a part of. My one social activity a week was my writer’s group. While we now have Thursday night Zoom meetings to read and critique each other’s work, the last thing I need after a day of teaching and consulting is another freaking webcam meeting! And it’s not the same as convening at the pub afterwards for more discussion and socializing. Yet it’s the only time of the week I talk to people who aren’t either work colleagues or relatives. I’m not gonna lie. I’m climbing the walls a bit.

This is more than just me whining, though. There is a very real cost to employees (yes, even your introverts) feeling alone.

It’s more than just emotions

According to Gallup,  most people enjoy working from home or remotely, and plan to continue to do it at least part-time when things return to “normal.” Yet twenty percent of people are experiencing very real feelings of loneliness and isolation. That’s one out of five. If you have five people on your team, odds are good at least one of them is struggling a bit.

North Americans have built much of their social life and casual acquaintances around the workplace. We spend forty of the 168 hours in a week working. Not only do we spend a quarter of our lives each week with coworkers, but many of us maintain social ties outside the workplace with these folks. These people are our friends.

While much of the press about working from home talks about families, there are a lot of single people who live alone. How are they holding up?

This is more than just a feel-good issue. Isolation can lead to disengaged workers, higher turnover, lower productivity and plummeting employee satisfaction scores. It also is a leading cause of depression, substance abuse and self harm.

What can a leader do?

  • Watch for changes in behavior or attitude. Are people suddenly withdrawing, not participating in meetings or going “radio silent?” It might be time to reach out.
  • Talk regularly, one on one, with every member of your team, not just your “problem children.” One of the challenges leaders face is not spending all their time putting out fires. Regular, casual conversation with every team member is important. Don’t assume that no news is good news.
  • Know your team’s work style. Some people work best when left to their own devices, others will really struggle. If you don’t know the team’s work styles, may we suggest a simple online DISC assessment. 
  • Schedule both one on one and group activities.  Help maintain a social connection between team members. Birthday announcements, celebrating “wins” on team calls, and sharing personal news can help people feel connected.
  • Encourage webcams, even on peer to peer calls. Humans need visual connection. While some people will be uncomfortable, the line between being self-contained and isolated can be blurry. Sometimes people need to be pushed to do what’s good for them, even if it’s uncomfortable.
  • Take care of yourself. Remember the 3-O model from The Long-Distance Leader. Taking care of ourselves is as important as taking care of outcomes and others.

The workplace is changing. There will be a thousand seismic changes in the next years, but one of the biggest is how not being in a central workplace will play on the social, psychological and spiritual life of human beings. You might not be able to prevent all these shocks, but you can help your people—and yourself– make it through another week.

Remote leaders need to establish relationships outside their teams. The Remarkable Way is a group of leaders, some remote, but not all, who encourage one another to develop their full Remarkable Potential.

Embrace Your Humanity

Simply Etta

Photo Credit

One of the most spiritual things you can do is embrace your humanity. Connect with those around you today. Say, “I love you”, “I’m sorry”, “I appreciate you”, “I’m proud of you”…whatever you’re feeling. Send random texts, write a cute note, embrace your truth and share it…cause a smile today for someone else…and give plenty of hugs.
~Steve Maraboli

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Top Medical Journal Caught in Massive Cover-Up

Environmental Health Watch NZ

Story at-a-glance

  • According to Alina Chan, a molecular biologist at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, SARS-CoV-2 did not evolve in a manner you’d expect, had it jumped from an animal to a human. It sprang into action fully evolved for human transmission
  • It appears Nature, a top medical journal, has allowed authors to secretly alter data sets in their papers without publishing notices of correction
  • Chan’s investigation reveals authors have renamed samples, failed to attribute them properly, and produced a genomic profile that doesn’t match the samples in their paper. Others are missing data
  • RaTG13 — the coronavirus that most resembles SARS-CoV-2, being 96% identical — is actually btCoV-4991, a virus found in samples collected in 2013 and published in 2016
  • If SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19 and the subsequent response to it, came from a lab, then we need to reassess the future of gain-of-function research…

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What is impermanence?

Kindness – Wisdom

This is one of the most fundamental teachings of Buddhism. The Buddha taught that the source of human suffering and discontent is that we crave and cling to the things of this world under the mistaken view that they will last forever. But nothing does.

Impermanence, anitya, or anicca in Pali, is one of the Buddha’s three marks of existence, three conditions that characterize all of life, and are always present. (The other two marks of existence are anatman (Pali: anatta), or not-self, and duhkha (Pali: dukkha), suffering, or dissatisfaction.)

Our bodies decline and decay. Hair and teeth fall out. Mental attitudes also change. Excitement and anger arise, then fade away. Our good health and happiness are only temporary; we will eventually sicken, age, and die, as will our friends, enemies, relatives, and strangers. Human life is brief. In the Diamond Sutra, one of the Mahayana tradition’s central scriptures, life is compared to a flash of lightning in a summer cloud, or a bubble floating in a stream.

The world around us may appear solid and unchanging, but even rivers change course, mountains crumble, seas dry up, and stars burn out. The entire universe is in a process of constant flux, arising and falling away. Our brief lives give us the privilege of witnessing this grand procession for just a moment.

Understanding impermanence is key to understanding the chain of dependent origination, the idea of emptiness, and many other important Buddhist concepts. Because all of existence is conditioned by the three marks, Buddhist practices aim to loosen our attachment to the world as it is and help us comprehend impermanence and the way it touches all aspects of our lives. Meditations on death are plentiful: In one of the Buddha’s discourses, the Buddha urged his followers to consider before they go to sleep at night that they may not live until morning, and Tibetan practitioners are instructed to meditate at charnel grounds, where bodies are cremated or left to decompose. Other meditations on impermanence investigate the ever-changing nature of the breath and other bodily sensations, our shifting thoughts, or the passing of the seasons and other transformations in the natural world.

🙏 May all beings be happy

SPECIAL REPORT: Nigeria spends more on elections, but voter turnout keeps reducing

Only a quarter of eligible voters voted in the Edo election, a decline from 32 per cent in 2016.

by Yusuf Akinpelu November 8, 2020

As the September Edo governorship election neared, Ehimen Friday, a ride-hailing company driver, was in an anticipatory mood.

While he rooted for the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, he said he would not vote, and he would not buckle to any persuasion.

Why? He fears that “there would be violence,” and apart from that, “votes don’t count.”

Although there were flashes of skirmishes and attacks during the election, the election has been touted to be largely peaceful and one of the freest in recent times.

Mr Friday’s chosen candidate, Mr Ize-Iyamu, who also hails from Oredo local government, lost the election to incumbent governor Godwin Obaseki.

In the end, only a quarter of the eligible voters voted, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), a historic low and a decline from 32 per cent in 2016.

In the just concluded Ondo governorship election too, of the 1,812,634 eligible voters, only 32.8 per cent (or 595,213) turned out. In 2016, the turnout was 35.6 per cent.


Since the dawn of democracy in 1999, there has been a consecutive decline in election turnout, although turnout increased from 52 per cent to 69 per cent between the 1999 and 2003 elections, data from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) showed.

But after the 2003 presidential election, participation in subsequent elections has continued to decline, first to 57 per cent in 2007, then to 54 per cent in 2011, before dropping to 44 per cent in 2015.

Eligible voters against those who turned out
Eligible voters against those who turned out

This would further plummet in the 2019 presidential election as only 34.75 per cent of registered voters actually voted, data from INEC showed.

Voters’ turnout since 1979
Voters’ turnout since 1979

Put better, less than four people determined who won in 2019 for every ten eligible voters, the lowest presidential election turnout Nigeria has recorded since independence. Show entriesSearch:

YearRegistered VotersTotal Votes% of Voters’ Turnout

Showing 1 to 9 of 9 entriesPreviousNext

The closest numbers to this low turnout were recorded during the nation’s first three presidential elections: 35.25 per cent in 1979, 38.94 per cent in 1983, and 36.65 per cent in the 1993 election, which was eventually annulled.

Lagos lagging, Jigawa leading

Lagos State, Nigeria’s richest state, and also believed to be the most populous, with a relatively educated population, has had back-to-back lowest voters’ turnout in the last two general elections.

In 2015, voters’ turnout in the state was 29 per cent. By 2019, it fell to 17.25 per cent.

Sitting on the same table with Lagos are Abia, which saw a decline in turnout from 30 per cent in 2015 to 18 per cent in 2019 elections, and Rivers State which saw a free fall from 71 per cent to 19.97 per cent within the two elections.

Lagos recorded the lowest voters’ turnout for two consecutive election cycles
Lagos recorded the lowest voters’ turnout for two consecutive election cycles

On the flipside, voters in Jigawa, Sokoto, where nine in ten are poor, and Katsina states, where six in ten are poor, had the highest turnout, each with 55.67, 50.13 and 50.67 per cent respectively.

States with the highest voters’ turnout in 2019
States with the highest voters’ turnout in 2019

This disparity is because, due to “electoral geography; the election culture across states differs,” the director of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Idayat Hassan, told PREMIUM TIMES. 

“Northern electorates are more politically savvy than southern Nigeria.”

Yet, these elections cost the nation astronomical amounts.

A December 2015 report titled ‘The Cost of Running Elections – A Cross Country Comparison and published by the National Institute of Legislative and Democratic Studies’, a parliamentary research institution, said INEC spent about N120 billion on the 2015 general elections. This is about double what was apportioned for each of education and health sectors for that year.

Even though it would record the lowest turnout in history, during the 2019 polls, INEC proposed to spend N189.2 billion, the highest amount for an election in Nigeria’s history, and about double what the nation proposed for its citizens’ healthcare and triple the education budget.

INEC’s funds are part of a statutory transfer category which, by law, the government must grant high preference. So statutorily, the commission will get N40 billion in 2021 with one of the major elections for the year being the Anambra State governorship polls.

How about parliamentary elections?

To cut costs, some Nigerians, including members of the Senate and the House of Representatives and a sitting governor, have advocated for the parliamentary system of government.

A senior programme officer at CDD, Austin Aigbe, said what should be done is to digitise voting and not a change of system.

“We must move beyond our current electoral process that is majorly manual to a more secure electronic process,” he said.

Eligible voters against those who turned out
Eligible voters against those who turned out

Opponents of the call like Senate President Ahmed Lawan have also said the nation’s diversity makes the bicameral legislature imperative for the country.

Meanwhile, data on the participatory level of Nigerians in the parliament elections since independence mirrors a direr apathy than in presidential elections.

Comparing turnout for presidential and the parliamentary election
Comparing turnout for presidential and the parliamentary election

Low as the turnout for presidential elections might have been, the parliamentary elections have had lower turnouts throughout, save in 2015 when turnouts in both polls were at par. Show entriesSearch:

YearRegistered VotersTotal Votes% of Voters’ Turnout
201982,344,10726,468,21132.14 %
201567,422,00529,432,08343.65 %
201173,528,04021,074,62128.66 %
200761,567,03635,000,00056.84 %
200360,823,02229,995,17149.32 %
199957,938,94523,573,40740.69 %
198365,300,00025,400,00038.90 %
197948,499,091 15,686,51432.34 %
19599,036,0837,185,55579.52 %

Showing 1 to 9 of 9 entries PreviousNext

In 2011, only 29 per cent (or 3 in 10) of eligible voters elected the members of the parliament. The highest till date was in the pre-independence election of 1959, when 80 per cent of eligible voters voted, data showed.

Voters’ turnout in parliamentary elections over the years
Voters’ turnout in parliamentary elections over the years

Since independence, only the 2007 election yielded over 50 per cent turnout.

Mr Aigbe said this is not a rejection of democracy, but a protest against bad governance.

“Nigerians are generally not excited by the governance outcome in the country,” he said.

Voters’ turnout elsewhere

Nigeria’s election turnout is at odds with Ghana’s last presidential elections’ turnout at 68 per cent. The 2017 election that brought in Liberian President George Weah had a voters’ turnout of 56 per cent. 

Likewise, about 56 per cent of the eligible voters in the U.S. 2016 presidential election turned up. The turnout in last week’s American presidential election is said to be even much higher than that of 2016 with votes still being collated in some states at the time of this report. In Canada, turnout was 54 per cent. Yet, by international standards, these are low.

The latest elections in Brazil recorded 80 per cent turnout, and in India 66 per cent, data showed.

In Brazil, those who don’t vote without justification are subject to a fine of R$3.51 (US$0.63), and proof of voting compliance is required for obtaining a passport, admission to public universities, government employment, and loans from government-owned banks.

Belgium, Peru, Argentina, Bolivia, Australia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Ecuador are some other countries with similar stipulations. Although across Europe, turnout for elections has dropped by 10 to 15 per cent since the 1980s.

Voting is a civic right, which makes it a choice, Mr Austin said. So rather than making it mandatory for Nigerians, he said, “we must deal with the reasons for voter apathy, which is largely whether vote counts.”

“We must continue to improve on the process, it will increase trust in the process and in effect, increase voter turnout,” he told PREMIUM TIMES.

Reasons for low turnout

Although INEC has said Nigeria’s next general election will hold February 2023, Nigeria has a long history of torturous voter registration processes. When that is added to the difficulty in switching polling units due to relocation, turnout for elections is bound to fall.

Oladipo Tolani, a resident of Ogun State, said he could not vote in 2019 because “I was not residing in the local government I registered. I was in school.”

Olanrewaju Jaji, 57, has not voted in three consecutive elections because she kept running out of luck each time she tried to renew her voter’s card. Long queues and long treks with little successes have discouraged her from still trying.

Her 34-year-old daughter, Khadijah would only “take the stress” if obtaining the voter’s card won’t be as difficult as it has been.

Ms Hassan said abstinence from elections could also be to show civic rebellion due to failed promises after previous polls.

More than this, elections in the country are often marred by violence and disruptions. From 2006 to 2015, about 4,000 lives have been lost during elections, Crisis group said in its 2018 report.

Likewise, history of questionable elections conducted by INEC, like the 2007 polls that brought in late President Musa Yar’Adua, which international overseers described as a “charade” and himself admitted was flawed, adds to the reasons voters boycott elections.

Despite these flaws, politicians have continued to use legal technicalities to overturn election results, and some would say, rob the people of their mandates.

“The conduct of the political class fueled by our winner takes all system is a disincentive,” Ms Hassan noted. “We need proportional representation where every party gets something in the end; electoral reforms to unburden INEC, and work more with the citizens.”

Perhaps, the disposition of persons like Mr Friday, the taxi driver, toward elections might change as a result of the #EndSARS movement – against police brutality and by extension bad governance – which has triggered discourse around electoral social engineering on social media

Dazed and confused

A great story. Quite an experience.

Mixed-Up. My diary about family secrets, DNA, and the complexities of race and adoption.

Wait, what? She Thinks She’s My MOTHER, and She Doesn’t Want to Get Ahead of Herself?!? At this point, I knew I was part of some online scam. I called my brother Jamar and told him what happened. He agreed that I was part of a scam and suggested that I call our mother to sort it out for sure. Mom was a bit busy when I called and could not explain why my DNA didn’t match. I now know she was terrified and didn’t have enough strength to tell me the truth. I called my brother back, and he offered to take a test. I reached out to my uncle, and he agreed to take a test too.

My mind was spinning as I tried to figure this all out. Meanwhile, I began receiving friend invitations from LinkedIn and Facebook from a David Maren. I clicked on the invites…

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November 7 Significant In U.S. Election

Encyclopaedia Britannica

George W. Bush 2000 – Disputed U.S. presidential election. On this day in 2000, the U.S. presidential election ended in a statistical tie between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush, only to be settled on December 12 by the U.S. Supreme Court after a bitter legal dispute.

2020 – Trump of the Republican Party announced his intention to litigate the outcome of the election believed to have been won by Democrat Biden.

From death to new life

Nov 7, 2020 by Pat Marrin


“Stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (Matt 25:13).

Wis 6:12-16; Ps 63; 1 Thess 4:13-18; Matt 25:1-13

The phrase “intimations of mortality” captures the implicit awareness we all carry about death. It is indeed intimate, as close as our next breath and heartbeat. Even children sense it, and adults face it as age and infirmity gain on them. Shakespeare’s Hamlet ponders “the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns.”  Yet, the core of Christian faith is that one human being in fact did return, Jesus Christ, and in his victory over death is our hope.

The end of the liturgical year becomes the church’s long, collective prayer about death, our own and the fate of all our beloved dead. St. Paul, the most eloquent witness for resurrection, was also the most realistic about his own death. “Now is the time of my dissolution,” he wrote as his death approached (2 Tim 4:6). For him, it was his final offering before taking his place with the risen Christ.  He encouraged his nascent churches to trust God even as the first Christians were dying before Jesus returned in glory. 

To put today’s Gospel in context, it is the first of three long parables in Matthew 25 that focus on how to live in the interim until the Parousia so as to share in the promise of life Jesus proclaimed.  We first hear a story about 10 bridesmaids, five wise and five foolish, who were awaiting the arrival of the bridegroom. The wise had extra lamp oil for the prolonged vigil, and the foolish did not.  Then we hear of three servants who were entrusted with funds to invest while their master was away. Two prospered and one did not. The final parable describes judgment day when those who showed their love for Jesus by serving the least of his brothers and sisters are welcomed into heaven, while those who neglected him are shocked to realize their failure. 

These parables are all about long-haul faith, staying alert to Jesus’ presence now and prepared for his return at the end of time. “Stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”  While we wait, the Holy Spirit has already given gifts to everyone.  Use those gifts generously and see them grow. The failure to invest your gifts is to miss the joy of life. Finally, do not be surprised when you encounter Jesus disguised among the poor, waiting for you to imitate his example of service and compassion.  If you stay awake, set your minds and hearts to building the kingdom of love and justice, you don’t need to worry about what is going to happen.  Self-emptying love in this world will be your glory in the world to come.