Resilience Through COVID-19: Returning to the School of Compassion
Prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, my wife (finally) convinced me to start attending a fitness class with her. During the first class, I was quite literally introduced to muscles I did not know I had. Specifically, it was the quadratus lumborum muscle or the “QL” for short. In common terms, it’s referred to as the back muscle but a bit more towards the sides of the body. They sit under what some might call love handles but I prefer to say that I have extremely developed quadratus lumborums. At any rate, I was introduced to these muscles through the mild pain that followed the fitness class. Having been a soccer player when I was younger, I knew that this kind of pain was good, and it signaled the beginning of muscle development.
Character-Building and Compassion through the Pandemic
I believe the coronavirus pandemic is having a similar effect on us as a society. There may be elements of our characters that needed to be reawakened—some behavioral muscles that have not been exercised nearly enough in the course of our everyday lives. Like the discovery of my QL muscles after some exercises that brought attention to them, the current situation is drawing attention to areas of our character that have needed to “get in shape.” COVID-19 has been a heavy burden this year, but I believe we are experiencing similar signals of development. Specifically, the “muscles” of compassion, sincerity, and helpfulness are being re-awakened. Medical professionals, caregivers, pastors, teachers, those who volunteer at homeless shelters, and many other professions regularly exercise these muscles. I believe for all of us, this is an opportunity to get stronger and go deeper.
Compassion in our Professional Lives
In the workplace, I find that many, including myself, before requesting an update on that deliverable that was due last week or before asking someone to perform a task, include a sincere comment stating, “hoping you and your family are healthy and safe”, or “praying for you and yours”, or “stay safe.” Where our communication in the past may have included less of a personal touch, we’re consciously putting a little bit more love into what we say. Herein is the question: Prior to the coronavirus, could others “feel” the love that goes into what you do?
It’s unfortunate that tragedy often sparks the reminder we need that people are not stepping-stones to personal success, or just part of the process, or obstacles to work around. They are people. They have families. We are going through something together on a global scale that reminds us that: People. Are. Important. We are taking a bit more care in how we communicate with one another. Giving a little bit more thought to what we say, and how we say it. Part of the reason we express a bit more compassion in our communication is that we really don’t know if the person on the receiving end of our email (or other correspondence), has tested positive themselves, has a family member in the hospital, or worse… In other words, we don’t know if that person is currently living a story that could dramatically impact their lives.
Compassion as a Mindset
What if our compassion continued after the coronavirus emergency ended? What if we continued to give the same amount of consideration to our words and actions as we are learning (or re-learning) to do so now? I think it would be a true failure if after this pandemic subsides, we return to “business as usual.” My hope is that we shift to “relationships as usual.”
Through COVID-19, we have all returned to the school of compassion. The question is what kind of students have we become? Are we more sensitive, compassionate, and humble? Or indifferent, complacent, and stubborn? We’ll know that we have learned what this crisis had to teach us if our thoughts, actions, and behavior have changed. This is a time of compassionate “conditioning”, where we proactively express care and concern for others. It’s a mindset that simply says, “You are important. Beyond what you do, beyond whom you work for, beyond your position—the unique value of “the quintessential you.”
Is there someone that you have been thinking about reaching out to or could use some help or encouragement during this season? If so, whatever kindness is in your heart to express, do it. You risk more by withholding compassion than you do by giving it away. People will remember your sincere kindness and compassion for a lifetime.
Get in touch with Andy Horn, Senior Project Manager, at A.Horn@cotterconsulting.com.