I know many of us who have worked outside of essential services during this challenging time have wondered: “what am I supposed to be doing to really contribute right now?” I can’t tell you how many people have felt a lack of identity or sense of agency or contribution and I can completely resonate with that. I know I have.
In every other health crisis in the time that I have worked, I’ve had a role. I worked in healthcare for almost my whole career. Before I left it five years ago, I worked in child protection. So there’d always be a way, however small, to help.; morale-building, educate on something, go and get supplies. There’d always be a function that my team and I could play. Working for myself, not being able to speak for any audience, I really struggled for the first couple of weeks with “what can I do?”.
I’ve learned along the way (pre-COVID-19) that even when there seems like there’s nothing we can do and nothing we can control if we look deep enough, there are small things that we can do. Can you relate?
Are you curious about what I learned (and then I’m going to ask you what you’ve been contributing)?
Digging deep, I came up with three things:
Number one is I could express appreciation to as many people as I can think of. So in the first week of COVID-19 in Canada, I sent 150 thank you cards and “I’m thinking about you” notes to people physically distanced, socially isolated and downright in the dumps about missing out on cool things they had planned. And if I didn’t send you one, call me out on it (it’s likely because I don’t have your mailing address so reply to me with it and we’ll rectify this).
The number of people who said “you don’t know how much I needed this”, well, I was shocked.
Here’s your call to action: send at least five thank-yous or “I’m thinking about you” cards within the next week. For every positive response back, keep that going.
Be Part of a Community
Not being able to see people, it felt not just weird, it felt exhausting. My fellow extroverts know exactly what I’m talking about. So, within a week, I created a new COVID Heroes FaceBook group (truth be told, it didn’t take off for a wildly impactful social change but heck, it brought positive action-oriented people together to do helpful tasks such as making masks and paint kindness rocks together).
I also started a writing group where 12 really smart, passionate change-makers show up to support each other and put impactful nonfiction out into the world. We can write, now that we have time at home and other work has stopped; we can create something of meaning for the post-COVID world. Some, like Lisa Schmidt, have started putting her work out into the world and it has been picked up by the CBC already. Her success motivates us, she gets motivated to continue her success, and it’s a positive reinforcing loop of community. (PS – message me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to learn more about the writing group.)
Share Your Knowledge & Passion
The other thing I realized I could do was to put my energy into writing a book for essential services leaders in healthcare; in my early conversations with healthcare leaders, and countless before COVID-19, I knew how challenging it is leading through chaos, change and crisis. I dug into my 20 years of experience, an array of certifications in change and organizational behaviour, and hundreds of coaching conversations to come up with a short synopsis of the most important leadership behaviours right now, and what the results are.
So, in just over a month, I wrote a mini-book ROCK STAR: Magnifying Your Greatness in Times of Change. I’m so passionate about supporting our healthcare leaders, as well as appreciating our amazing frontline providers, as we speak we’re posting the labels on envelopes addressed to every Hospital CEO and CNO in Ontario.
And, my loyal readers, I don’t want to miss you. Can I send you a copy to say thank-you for your leadership (small “l” leadership as you lead from your current role right through to big “L” leadership running a division or organization)? Anyone in healthcare or who works with healthcare will benefit. The first 1000 copies are my gift to the world. Provide your mailing address or email (if you prefer an eBook or audiobook) here.
What About You?
So let’s get back to you. How have you managed to make a contribution that matters in this challenging time? How can you recognize your own greatness? Important contributions such as:
- Making masks for healthcare heroes
- Having regular video conferencing meetings to check in with friends
- Delivering groceries to vulnerable neighbours
- Volunteering to help in your community
- Working extra shifts as an essential services leader
- Virtual tutoring of kids learning from home
- Having tough conversations with your kids about what’s going on in the world
- Staying home when you really want to go out!
We all contribute in our own ways. Nothing is small. Together, we can magnify the greatness of our world. One step at a time.
Looking for more ideas to create appreciation and community, here are more blog posts that I know you’ll find helpful.