It's hard to be a helper right now.

This may seem like an absurd statement given how great our current troubles are, but the truth of the matter is, many of us naturally set towards "help" are deeply empathetic. There are many emotions going around, and it's difficult to breathe in fear and pessimism and breathe out empathy, guidance, and hope. And in some ways even more difficult to stay home when we know there's people who need us out there.

One tool that's been helpful for me is to utilize this cope-adapt-innovate-celebrate gradient. It's a way to check in with myself and also to set goals for improvement, depending on how the day begins.
cope adapt innovateProfessionally, I am grateful to work for an organization like The Patterson Foundation, which is already attuned to working in the adapt and innovate space. That means that while the staff of The Patterson Foundation may individually vacillate on the gradient of cope-adapt-innovate, we're surrounded by an organizational culture that is oriented towards the light.

Some things we've learned from this experience that apply to both the personal and professional life include:
  • Care first. At the beginning, and the end, we are all humans. Everyone is experiencing difficulties right now, and we have no way to know what's happening behind the scenes. Be caring in how you interact and the choices you make.
  • Connect in whatever way you're able. While face to face meetings, happy hour, volunteering gigs, and so much else are now paused, there are still many ways to stay connected. Video chat platforms, new apps, old fashioned mail. Take the time to figure out what new (or old) method of connecting makes you feel productive and happy.

  • Contribute. First, contribute to the life-saving work our healthcare professionals and support teams are doing and STAY HOME! Once you've done that, think of how you can contribute from where you are with what you have. Now more than ever is the time to break free of your silo (if you usually live/work in one) and be a team player, pinch hitter, whatever it takes. Just because you need to stay in place, doesn't mean you have to be frozen. There's plenty still to do!

  • Collaborate more. If you were previously collaboration-adverse because you believe that collaboration is the unnatural partnering of adults who didn't want to work together is not the time. This is the time to embrace the attitude that it doesn't matter who gets credit, as long as it gets done well. So ask yourself, who else cares?

  • Create! Unprecedented times call for unprecedented solutions. Alternatively, if that thinking is too overwhelming for you right now, your kids can learn how to make instruments out of all of those toilet paper rolls you're hoarding. While the world is moving quickly, our lives have slowed down in a lot of ways. Take this time to cultivate new ideas and fresh approaches to your work, how you help others, or how you entertain your family.
The life we're all living right now is uncertain. Think of it as running a relay race, but instead of individuals handing off batons, we're running in packs striving to adapt and innovate while moving forward. Sometimes, we need a rest, and that's ok. There's another group waiting to pick up the baton and keep running. They'll come back around, and it'll be our turn again soon. In the meantime, take care of yourselves and keep looking for ways to help.

Comments (1)

  • Nancy Saeger

    Nancy Saeger

    10 April 2020 at 11:04 | #

    Thank you for such a timely and helpful blog. It helps me focus on the ‘rightness’ of staying home and appreciate the wonderful people I have in my life.


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