By Devin Fedor, Director Learning & Organizational Development, Mary Washington Healthcare
Living through a pandemic is a unique and potentially life-altering experience. Some have described it as a “new normal”. Others have asserted that it has led us to realize just how far our old way of living was from normal. As a mother and a leader in a healthcare organization, I have set up a tent in the second camp. I am also taking this opportunity to find the silver lining.
As Bradley Cooper’s character Pat said in the movie, “It means, you know what I’m gonna do? I’m gonna take all this negativity and I’m gonna use it as fuel. I’m gonna find a silver lining, that’s what I’m gonna do. That’s no BS. That takes work and that’s the truth.” Finding the good in a difficult situation does take work, and we are seeing so many shining examples in our country right now. On a macro level, organizations and communities are stepping up to put people first, provide support and resources, make technology platforms available, provide childcare, food, shelter, sew masks and to cheer on essential workers in heartfelt and creative ways.
On a micro level, individuals, families and friends are finding new ways to work, live, connect with and care for each other. The best moments in the past few weeks have been spent seeing and hearing what’s important to those around me – from kids popping up on video calls, to virtual tours of home workspaces, to Netflix and book recommendations. It is refreshing to see so many people are finding solace and sanity in the simple things. Nature walks, homecooked meals, board games, video happy hours, teddy bears in windows, handwritten letters, music, mindfulness, arts, crafts and the list goes on.
There is still work to do and it is getting done by resilient people in living rooms, hospitals, grocery stores and other essential locations across the nation. To those on the front lines, all I can say is thank you. For those of us who manage teams, we are learning more about compassionate leadership every day. This feels different because it is different. Values-driven companies and individuals are doing their best to make things better for others. When the pandemic is over, it will be tempting to slip back into our old routines. I hope we let this experience serve as a humbling and liberating reminder that we are all people first – parents, siblings, children, friends and humans – not workers, producers and commodities. I also hope it gives us permission to be who we really are and to show up as our best selves even when it’s hard.
If nothing else, it gives us the chance to create our own silver linings playbook. For my playbook, I am taking inspiration from three habits that David Rock, Director of the NeuroLeadership Institute, shared during a recent webinar on leading through crisis:
- Take care of yourself. Nurture your own physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. Take a walk outside, enjoy a healthy meal, read, paint, meditate, practice gratitude, let go of guilt and be kind to yourself.
- Look out for each other. Practice empathy, check in on others and help when you can. Express appreciation, perform a random act of kindness, offer support and encouragement, give of your time and your resources.
- Deliver what matters. Find your purpose and make a difference through your work. Focus on how you can best serve others, your organization and your community.
My silver lining is that I can learn to better live and lead by practicing these three habits during and after the current crisis. What will you put in your silver linings playbook?