Catastrophes can be epic teachers, and a crisis can be a great job interview. They test us in ways to make us really tap into our greatest strengths and show up in ways that may even surprise us. We also see who rallies and who checks out.
These tough times have a lot to share with us if we are willing to tune in, pay attention and learn.
Though there are so many negatives connected to COVID, I believe that in every event, there is always something to learn, appreciate and connect with.
Here are the three most important things COVID has taught me about what really matters in work and life.
1. People matter most so always lead with love. Life is fragile. The people that aggravated you yesterday by eating your lunch from the office fridge, or took credit for a project or even forgot to say good morning as they walked by may become a statistic of this moment. The challenge of this moment reminds us to lead with love in our communication, kindness in our actions and care in our thoughts.
In this context, love isn’t romantic. It is a deep caring. It is intentional interest. It is profound concern. It is great joy. We are social beings and want and need people in our lives. In the tough moments, focus more on who they could be than who they are. Everyone is struggling in some way, so what others may deliver to you might be because of a stressed moment. It may be more the moment speaking than the person. Remember this.
2. Each of us has amazing gifts that will help us in this exact moment. When confronted with a challenge, we need to learn how to see it as our MacGyver moment – our moment to use everything we know and have to make something important happen. It might be the humor that someone on your team has that keeps everyone’s moods up to help them all through the workday. It might be the gift of staying calm that is shared with others to help them learn how to manage their anxiety. It might be the ability to ask great questions and listen generously to help others feel heard and supported as they struggle with the anxiety and fears of the moment. It may be the detail-focused person who knows every detail about staying safe in COVID and has ensured your workplace is the best it can be.
We each have our things that we are masters at. Tough times help us notice and use these to benefit ourselves and others.
3. Life makes no promises; it just provides opportunities. Not only is life short, but it has few, if any, guarantees. It doesn’t promise that good things happen to good people. It doesn’t promise to be fair or that you should be happy every day. It delivers what it delivers. Each moment of each day is an opportunity to use what comes our way to make something good.
I am reminded of what my dad required of my five siblings and me. He shared that it was our job to pay attention in life – not to judge it – but to see it for whatever it was. Then, we were to ask ourselves what could we do to make this better?, then act on it. It was our obligation to stop and notice ourselves and our world and see the opportunities in each. Where could I be better? What could I help with to make something in my world better? Start to list the opportunities that are present in your days. It will help you see the world through an opportunity focus and, as a result, tough times will deliver something valuable.
COVID, like everything, is a teacher. But for the lessons to take hold, we have to be willing learners. Learning requires an attitude and openness to see what is possible. It takes effort to change our perspective about negative or challenging events to seeing something good in them. When we do, we find that every event in life has something important to share – a success to celebrate or a lesson to learn. The way to be part of it is to fully engage with it – not just the good times, but all of the times. So instead of the expression Live, Love, Learn, maybe a better way to share it is Learn so you can Love so you can Live.
By Jay Forte
Consider reading A Recap: Five Rules for A Really Great Life in 2020