“Anything is possible when you have the right people to support you.”
– Misty Copeland
The workplace today is being divided into two categories – essential and everyone else. Essential means you have a job, with potentially the option to work from home. Jobs declared non-essential could face uncertainty, or be furloughed or laid off.
On the surface it would seem to make sense to want to be an essential employee. However, this type of work sometimes leads to greater personal risk. Working in the ER, going into the office, or continuing to travel to work sites. Falling into the non-essential pool sends a different message – your work is not as important and now would be a good time to refresh your resume.
Work is work. Behind these categories of work are real people. Their job may or not be essential – people will always be essential.
We need to push through the health and economic headlines to find what is essential – people. Protective equipment shortages, confirmed case/death counts, and the stock market indices drown us in numbers. How can we maintain our sense of humanity in this world of uncertainty and data?
To keep people essential, we need to maintain two perspectives – self and others.
Last month this newsletter discussed the importance of self-care. The following three guidelines can help us be our very best, so we can lead and take care of others:
• Assess Your Own Risk
o Your risk is probably low yet fear of the unknown triggers anxiety
• Limit COVID 19 News Consumption
o Restrict your information intake to reputable sources and facts – less can be more
• Follow the CDC Guidelines
o Social distancing and personal hygiene
In other words, keep your act together. Stay well both physically and mentally, particularly your mind. The mental health impact of COVID 19 has caused significant confusion, trauma, and anger. Alcohol and drug abuse, as well as domestic violence, are trending up. You may look OK to others but run the risk of losing your mind.
Once we build our foundation of self-care, the next step is to reassess our relationships with others. Those we know as well as the strangers who act on our behalf.
To determine if we are considering others to be essential, we need to ask ourselves two questions:
• Who is essential right now in my life?
• Is it people serving me or is it me serving others?
We crave uplifting news right now, and we can learn a great deal about keeping people essential by looking at those who support us. Our heroes today are the exhausted health care workers and volunteers, struggling to provide quality care with minimal resources. The grocery clerks and drivers who feed us, the first responders who keep us safe, and the service providers who keep our lights on and internet running. Government, non-profit, and faith community servants who are determined to provide for the common good. A support team who we rarely see or know their name.
We may not be in their essential jobs, but we can support others by stopping our ineffective behavior, refocusing on effective behavior, and sharing our gifts.
We need a call to action – to stop waiting for someone to tell us this is over. Now is the time to control our destiny and reset. We will not be returning to normal. We never have after a crisis.
Three keys to making sure people are essential:
Focusing on information at the expense of people. Reframe your interactions with others to begin with how are you doing, rather than what are you doing? During a crisis, research has found approximately 50 percent of people believe the worst case scenario will come true. Leaders see the glass half full.
Make the call. Answer the call. An example is reaching out to someone at work when you don’t expect something in return. You don’t need an answer – you have questions about their welfare.
Give Away Your Gifts
Share your gifts of time, talent, and treasure to those who need it more than you do. For example, sharing your insights on stress management or job search can be very helpful. You should not have to look too hard to share these gifts – these essential people are all around you.
We need to stand tall by creating a better version of our self today, as others lean on us in the days to come. Anything is possible if we honor, respect, and value all people. Don’t worry about deciding which people are essential – they all are.
Stay strong during tough times,