Got Covfefe?

The answer is yes, you do. We all do. At some point in time we have all been in such a covfefe that it has cost us. Some of us live in a constant state of covfefe resulting in chaos all around. Before I go further I should explain. Covfefe has been a word used a lot on social media this past week, and I am going to put forward an official definition.

“Covfefe is an indicator of stress and is shown when an individual is more focused on what comes next than the present moment, resulting in an error. “

How often do we fail in what we are trying to achieve, and have maybe been planning to achieve for a long time because we are focused on what comes next? How many details do we miss every day while we are trying to get to the next project? Why do we have so many typos? The answer is that we struggle with covfefe. Covfefe is the reason we treat a project as though it were finished when it isn’t.

There is a quote that I see pop up once in a while which I think has some relevance here:

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen R. Covey.

How do we plan to communicate and respond effectively if we don’t listen? How often has miscommunication due to covfefe caused problems in a relationship? Has any husband ever had his wife complain that he doesn’t listen? Yeah – he fell at covfefe. As a species we create labour-saving devices that “give us back time”, and end up exacerbating covfefe. I remember the claim when Blackberry first introduced their phones to the world that it would “give us back” 20 minutes a day. Really? Where is it? I must have missed enjoying it while I was covfefe to the next task.

In a world where end goal performance matters more than the process, how much more important does resisting the urge of covfefe become? When you are a coaching a youth team and want to win rather than develop, gain a future promotion, earn a new contract, or benefit from whatever rides on your performance, how easy is it to rush through one step in a quest for the big goal? How many people have you worked with (or maybe you yourself) who have skipped an ethical corner in order to meet a goal, skipping a few details on the way because the big picture is more important. Or, for example, let’s say you’re the leader of the free world and you use a certain social media platform regularly. Maybe, just maybe, covfefe is something you should try to resist.

So what causes covfefe? I would propose one factor: Stress. Well, more specifically our response and ability to manage it. Stress in itself is not necessarily a good or bad thing. It just is. Selye (1936) defined stress as “The non-specific response of the body to any demand for change.” The external factors, or stressors are the events that can evoke anxiety (Spielberger & Sarason, 1985), which in turn has a factor on performance. The key factor in determining the impact of stress events on performance is not the stress event itself, but the individual’s ability to be able to manage their response, commonly known as coping. Brooks (2014) suggests that anxiety is a state of distress or arousal caused by a stimuli where there is a potential for unfavorable outcomes. As such, anxiety is based not on the need to perform, but on failure to meet a goal or expectation.

Stress can be a killer. Literally. It can cause impact the brain in such ways as to negatively impact cognition, decision-making, anxiety and mood that can increase or decrease expression of those behaviors and behavioral states. While stress is not a bad thing, and can in fact be a beneficial when used for a temporary motivator or survival, living in a constant state of stress is bad. Chronic stress can impact almost every part of your body, from your nervous system, to your digestive system, and your immune system (McEwan, 2017). Covfefe is a measure of stress, and ironically can be a cause of stress. Living in a state of covfefe results in a trail of errors, which if they become a noticeable pattern can hinder the goals a person wishes to achieve. If you want a promotion, covfefe can make you look like you are unable to complete a task properly. If you want to coach a team to success, covfefe can bring you short-term gains but your long-term goals may be missed. If you want to get positive reports on what you are doing and gain some recognition, covfefe may result in further embarrassment.

Slow down. Take some time to reflect on your journey. Listen to what people are saying. Don’t sacrifice the journey for the destination, enhance the arrival to the destination by having a great journey to talk about.

Brooks, A. W. (2014). Get excited: Reappraising pre-performance anxiety as excitement. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143(3), 1144–1158.

McEwen, B. S. (2017). Neurobiological and systemic effects of chronic stress. Chronic Stress, 1, 2470547017692328.

Selye, H. (1936). A syndrome produced by diverse nocuous agents. Nature, 138, 32.

Spielberger, C., & Sarason, I. (1985). Stress and anxiety (P. Defares, Ed.). Washington D.C.: Hemisphere Pub.


Categories: Development, Goals, Mental Health, Performance

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