As countries reopen businesses across the world after so long in lockdown, it’s a little bit like reopening ourselves and our own personalities.
How do we maintain a sense of personal identity in a world where we are asked to relinquish significant decision-making–like where physically to work, how to socialize, how near to stand to another person—in order to serve the greater good of preserving lives? How do I maintain the “essential me” when I have given up personal control of the most important decisions of my life?
I believe that one of the greatest dangers of our present situation is the loss of a sense of who I am and where I’m going–giving up that function to someone else, no matter how important the reason. The most important characteristic of being a human being–that’s me–is my unique ability function as an individual, different from my friends, family and colleagues. Is the “me” in “me” still as strong as it used to be 3 months ago?
Which of the events of the last 3 months has impacted you the most?
- The Pandemic?
- Fear of infection?
- Fear for elderly parents and relatives in institutions?
- Loss of life at the national and global level?
- Work from Home?
- Shelter in place?
- Closing of businesses?
- Loss of income?
- Loss of job?
- Impact on health/weight gain?
In circumstances like those of today when our highest value is staying home and not infecting anyone else, we must again ask ourselves the questions:
- “Who am I?”
- What is my personal significance?
- What makes me different from you?
- To what extent can I make my own decisions?
- To what extent can I vision, plan, and succeed?
- How can I make a difference in the world around me?
Personal Control in the Midst of Uncertainty
One of the things I most wonder about is how the pandemic crisis will affect us as to our own sense of individuality. We have given over personal decision making “for the greater good” of society and most of us agree that was the right decision.
But what about moving forward? Are we still committed to the individual entrepreneur who will take a chance and risk it all to bring us new products and services? Will we still be dedicated to growing companies that create employment?
In the midst of crisis and confusion, I found the opportunity to review the essentials that have guided my life through many decades
Recreating Goals–Maintaining Your Personal Edge. Most people agree that adapting to working from home has been disorienting and exhausting. Are you maintaining your personal edge in the midst of everything that is happening? Are you as focused on your professional and personal goals as you were three months ago? Are your goals as sharp and focused as they were?
Leaders in organizations all share with us that nothing will ever go back to “normal”–the way things were. What is your “new normal” and what are you doing to make new normal a place where you can survive and thrive?
When the economy shut down on March 15–the business 9/11–we were at first shocked and then we went into a survival mode. Delta’s goal has always been to improve people’s personal best–and we recommitted to that goal as we took our business online. Throughout this process we have grown individually and as a company. We are more tech savvy, agile, adaptive, and flexibile.
Maintain Values When Guideposts Are Unclear. In times of crisis like the Covid-19 crisis, values can be blown away as in a giant hurricane.
The discipline of regular routine no longer sustains our day. Dressing and going to work?–gone. Headed for the gym?–closed. Taking children to school?–hopefully next year. Meeting for lunch?–no longer possible. Communities of faith?–too dangerous for now.
Like many of our friends and clients, we decided that we could not put our values on hold for the virus. Carol and I learned we had to recreate the habits that maintained our values. We set up our home gym and maintained our commitment to healthy nutrition. (Evidently, a lot of other people did that too, as Amazon and Academy have been sold out of most free weights since about March 20!) We maintained our relationship to our community of faith online. We set our first virtual board of directors meeting for Dream Come True.
We also came to the realization that our values encompass the many layers of society impacted by the pandemic. We came to the conclusion that 40,000,000 people out of work demanded a commitment to reopening the economy. With the murder of George Floyd and the conviction of societal, systemic injustice we realized that the demonstrations against these injustices could not wait and we support them. The need to protest was suddenly stronger than the need to social-distance.
Relationships are Supreme. Carol and I have lived lock-down “by-the-book.” We are keenly aware of the devastating cruelty of this disease and the havoc that it has wrought. Yet in the midst of the devastation, our commitment to family, friends, and clients is supreme.
In a few short weeks the experiences of this pandemic have changed me more than any other experience of my life. It has taken me to a new level of caution and care that I never knew before. It has made me see that the concerns of society top my own concerns. At the same time, I understand that maintaining my own individuality is the only way that I can maintain my identify and help others.