I’ve been asking what kind of person I want to be through this crisis. I’m struggling with a lot of things and grappling with what they mean for who I am as a person. At my 9-5, I am a manager, a leader of a small group of people. I know that in times of crisis a leader is supposed to show up and is supposed to be an example of what to do. And the truth is I want to be a leader. I do want to help my people through this. But what I am being told to do and what my intuition is telling me we need to do are in direct opposition.
I have a team of managers that I work with and my director is fairly adamant that we continue working through this crisis. I’m struggling with this because my departments are effectively closed during this time. I have work that I can do from home but we are not being released to do so. I’m struggling because I know in my heart that the example I need to set is one of staying at home and keeping ourselves as safe as we can, minimizing contact with others for the time being. What we are being told to do is to show up every day and put ourselves on the line as needed.
In truth, I don’t feel the same as my co-workers in this regard. My expertise is not of service to the clinical teams and I don’t feel it appropriate to attempt to work elsewhere. I am also in a different life situation than my co-workers: I have a three year old and I have parents in their 70’s who help me watch him. In good conscience, I can’t put my family in danger for the sake of a job. Please don’t misunderstand, I actually enjoy the work and I enjoy being able to lead people, but the reality is that I am putting my family in danger by continuing to expose myself to this disease. This is a defining moment in so many ways.
I’ve spent a LOT of years doing exactly as I was told, constantly going against what my gut told me was the right thing to do in favor of what other people told me was the right thing. This is a circumstance where everything in my body is telling me those rules no longer apply. This is literally a global pandemic and any one of us getting sick is not going to help the situation. I truly feel that keeping ourselves separated for the time being is what’s going to help us moving forward. Previously, I’ve gone to work with bronchitis, I’ve worked with broken bones, I’ve worked with scarlet fever all because I felt like I had to prove I was reliable. This goes beyond being reliable. This is about everyone’s safety. I don’t feel like it’s a good example to be sacrificial lambs when there is no need for us to be there.
I know that there isn’t a lot of clarity in this situation because we have never faced something of this magnitude before. There isn’t a lot we know how to do. We haven’t been trained to work from our intuition before and this scenario requires a lot of trust in ourselves. It’s hard to do that because we are still in the stage where national leadership is still confused so their primary focus is on money. It’s terrifying because we don’t know what to expect next, especially when we have been trained that money is the way out—you have enough money you can support yourself through the next thing and we are being told we can’t work. So that fear leads us to continue working when we shouldn’t be and we contribute more to the pandemic than to the healing.
So what I want to do is be an example of what we need to do next. If we can’t actively contribute to the healing (medical care and making sure there is food for people as some examples) then we need step out of the way and do our part by staying home. I know in my gut this won’t last forever and I know the longer we delay this, the worse the disease is going to get. We have the ability to suspend all mortgages, rent, utilities to make this easier for people. Take away the fear of money and provide for all. The fate of the world’s health depends on our pressing pause right now. We have to stop pretending that money even matters at this point—there is no amount of money that will stop this from affecting anyone.
Does this make me a bad leader or a strong one? And is there a right or wrong in this? Based on my conditioning I feel like I am not a leader at all and that I am letting my management team down. There are different definitions, I guess, and the only thing we can do is go with what feels right to each of us. For me, I would prefer to err on the side of caution and allow the health care workers to get ahead and give this world a fighting chance. This is the time to make a different choice, and perhaps that is the point. There is no right or wrong, we just have to do something different. I pray to be strong enough to take the leap into the work I am meant to do. I pray to be the example I am meant to be.