The world as we knew it has shifted. Certainly, and surely. Our organizations may expand, but it more likely that they will contract. Likewise, our internal staff may expand, but it is probably the case that it may have to contract. After lockdown, our budgets are unstable. We are afraid to spend – despite stimulus efforts to stabilize us. There is little to rely on in terms of precedent. The coronavirus has outgunned every other pandemic we know about. And, it looks as though there is more to come. What to do? How to move forward? What does it mean to move forward?
First, we do have to acknowledge real grief. We have lost friends, family, colleagues to this awful virus. We have lost grandparents, aunts, parents and mentors. We have also lost time. We have lost certainty. Some of us have lost a sense of optimism about the future. We must grieve the time before, our lives before, and in doing so, turn to the possibilities before us.
As we wait, watch and listen, we can, though, practice living in the present with our organizations. Whether you lead or support a mission or vision, now might be the time to brush it off and amp it up. Post-corona will open up new opportunities. Also, it will give us an opening to revive our missions, reset our focus and forge ahead. Despite. We have to continue to listen to traditional indicators, like the stock market and the Dow Jones Industrial average. However, we may have to adopt new ways of assessing our world and our position in it. We may need to start paying closer attention to our cities and towns, house by house, block by block and county by county. There are no easy answers for any of our organizations. Maybe that is because we have to go back to the drawing board and ask piercing questions about our purpose, mission and goals.
Does your organization’s mission seem relevant in light of recent events? If so, even in midst of this uncertainty, can you foresee new ways to garner support, mobilize staff and move ahead? It may be that the sudden shift to mostly-remote-work has revealed that onsite work (for all of its benefits) may not be the most efficient nor economical way to face the future. Certainly, those organizations with direct health-related missions will find immediate and obvious ways to tie their goals to the post-Corona world. Yet, other areas have emerged as centers of opportunity because we have not identified the path ahead.
Be bold and fearless about acting on what you do see. In the midst of this seeming chaos, some things are emerging clearly.
Education will be an area of opportunity. Our schools have been thrown into near-panic by having to provide lessons on line without much notice or preparation. Teachers wonder if their roles have become suddenly obsolete. After all, much of the curriculum can and has been delivered without much direct teacher involvement. Students miss the social aspects of learning with peers. Virtual learning can be freeing and can foster independence. It can also be isolating. Those who can address the drawbacks of virtual learning while helping organizations to make the adjustment will profit post-Corona.
Wellness presents many tiers of opportunity. The horrors of the pandemic have taken center stage on the news waves for months. Yet, when we transition a bit away from having total focus on Corona treatment and containment, could we use television to lower our health care costs and broaden the scope of those with access to healthcare? Given the fact that the malls and shopping centers have been mostly shut over the past three months, are we freed up to give our time and attention to other concerns? Is there an opportunity to develop non-commercial pastimes? Also, mental health is bound to be a national priority. We need to cope and cope more effectively with the aftermath of this pandemic and we will need professional guidance and insight to do so.
We have lost a whole world of expectations, activities and perhaps even funding. At the same time, we might be gaining the opportunity to expand our organizations’ thinking, deepen our commitment to what really matters and forge alliance with other like-minded groups.
As we wait, watch and listen, let’s cultivate openness. Maybe, just maybe after we have mourned, and we must, after we have abandoned careful budgets, projections and plans that no longer seem relevant or achievable, maybe we will see that we have emerged better focused on making our communities and this nation more resilient, more thoughtful and, yes, more compassionate.
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