Focusing on What Matters: A New Perspective in June 2020

As I sit here after not writing for 3 weeks due to racing across country to help a family member through cancer and major surgery, I have considered even more what matters most in life.

COVID has changed our lives. In this type of emergency, I would have hopped on a plane to get to my destination in hours. Instead, I drove across several states that took 1.5 days. I wouldn’t have thought twice about staying in a hotel. Now, I am skeptical, sanitize after touching everything and lay only on the top sheet in bed.

I had my temperature taken every day upon entering the hospital to visit my family member. One person allowed in the ICU at a time and no congregating on the ICU floor. All lounge areas are closed. My brother and I found a deserted hallway in the hospital so we could sit from time to time without wearing a mask. Wearing a mask for 8 hours is difficult. I applaud every retail, restaurant, construction and healthcare worker who must wear one whether it was due to COVID or just simply a part of their job.

Furloughed nurses asked to come back as things opened up did not because of the risk to their lives and families. This resulted in sub-standard care for my family member, which only added to our frustration.

The things we took for granted before COVID are now hitting me like never before. It was one thing not to be able to join friends out for dinner or commute via train to the office. It is quite another to be prevented from getting to a family member in trouble quickly or not comforting a grieving friend in person after losing her father or not attending your best friend’s wedding because it was canceled.

COVID changed everything but it did not change the course of life and all of the other complications, heartaches, celebrations and challenges we face every day. It has made them harder.

There are many management lessons in my recent experiences somewhere in my brain. I will pull them out at some point. Right now, I have been focusing on what matters and am stating out loud what I am so grateful for:

  • Health: I take my health for granted every day. Each morning I can get up from a good night’s sleep, and, yeah, my knees are starting to feel my age, but I am awake, alert, skilled, able-bodied, and mentally sane (although that may be up for debate with my significant other on certain days). All good things that may not come easily to others.
  • Being Employed: Is anyone’s work perfect? Heck no. There is no such thing as “perfect”. But, I work for a great company with good benefits and I manage a fabulous team. I am helping our employees every day, doing what I like to do, and I am grateful for it.
  • Family: I know some of us may want to punch our brother from time to time, tell a cousin to jump off a bridge, or yell at an uncle because his politics don’t line up with ours. But, I am grateful for family in my house and out. No, we didn’t pick them (well, except our significant others) but they will be there for us no matter what.
  • Outdoors: Especially now, I am grateful for nature. Walking the dog used to be a “chore”. I used to actually dread it because I never had time and the dog can go a little nuts around other dogs. Now, it is a great relief and a chance to re-boot after a stressful phone call or long day glued to WebEx. I look forward to them as a way to get calm and take a deep breath.
  • Food: Sounds silly but I am grateful that I have access to almost any food I want when I want it. Not everyone can stay that. Yes, we wear masks and clean our hands before and after the grocery store. So what? I have ample food for myself and my family every week. I can choose healthy foods or junk food. Unfortunately, during COVID, I have made way too many brownies but that was my choice. Although, now that my shorts from last year don’t fit, I will choose grapes.
  • Clean Water: I always know I haven’t had enough water when I get a headache and start to feel run down. I used to think I should eat but I have learned that 9 times out of 10 it is because I am de-hydrated. I drink a glass of water and it is a lifesaver. Water is essential. I have it whenever I turn on my faucet. Amazing, really!
  • Modern Technology: I have also been known to yell at my computer when it doesn’t move fast enough or throw up my hands when my cell phone freezes. Wow. Such behavior on my part. Without the internet and other technology infrastructure, I would be out of a job. I wouldn’t be able to order any essentials shipped to the home or watch a good movie to chill out after a bad day. Technology is essential and I am grateful I have it in my home and at my fingertips.

This all may sound trite or prompt you to roll your eyes. I get it. Current times have led me to think about all of these gifts lately. I find expressing my gratitude in writing every week (I know some who do this daily) helps me become centered and focused on what I am doing in my professional and personal life.

It is too easy to forget what we have. Sometimes it takes a crisis like COVID or an unhealthy family member to bring things back into perspective. While I am not happy about the crisis, I am taking advantage of the re-focusing on the back end as another one of life’s lessons.

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