I will remember the year 2020 vividly for the rest of my days.
I spent the prior year paving the way for the release of my book, Looking Up. As the release date, February 25th, approached, the novel coronavirus that is now known by the entire world as COVID-19 was hardly on my radar. Two weeks later, it was all that anyone could talk about, let alone think about.
Our first line of sight: This is a threat to our health and safety.
We as humans are prone to seeing problems rather than opportunities. Now that is not to say that COVID-19 is not a problem, this pandemic is as serious as they come and behind each of the terrible losses that it has caused is a family, friends, and a community grieving.
As the situation changed, literally by the minute, the words of advice came at us quickly. Within weeks, we were told to stay home unless it was to purchase groceries and other essentials, or to get daily exercise. We were told to keep a safe distance from everyone and eventually advised to wear masks at all times.
Our next line of sight: How will we protect our livelihoods, educate our children, and feed our need for human interaction?
These concerns are valid and for many, the question of livelihood is still lingering. However, thousands of companies across the country quickly figured out how to help their essential employees to either work from home or to practice safe social distancing in the workplace.
Our educators, as always, faced the challenge head on and altered their teaching plans to be carried out over the internet using eLearning and even communicating with group video chats to maintain class participation. Families quickly equipped their smartphones and tablets to be able to video chat and continue to visit with family and friends- sharing their children’s milestones, discussing current events, and even sharing ‘virtual cheers’ with friends.
We had a lot of questions about how to manage quarantine life, but we have found ways to evolve for the sake of everyone’s health and safety. We are still figuring things out each day, but we are, to the best of our ability, maintaining our lives.
Finding a new line of sight: Where does the opportunity lie?
I am a fan of finding the silver lining. My life has been centred around changing my perspective and viewing looking up to others as an asset. As an instinct, I look at this situation and want to find the good that may be found when we are on the other side of this.
In a time when our lives have become so busy and centred around activities outside the home, we now must relearn what it is to effectively be a family. We can now set new goals in our households, whether that’s having dinner together as a family each night, doing a group dance party, or crafting cards to send to our healthcare heroes.
We have been given the gifts of togetherness and time. We can teach each other new skills, such as your teen to change a tire or your partner to play an instrument. Truly, the light in this disaster, is that our opportunities are endless.
When you find yourself wondering when you can go back to whatever our new normal will be, try finding a new line of sight and embracing how we might emerge a more bonded, more grateful community of families, friends, and strangers alike.
Meet the Author
Michele Sullivan recently retired as the Director of Corporate Social Innovation and President of the Caterpillar Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the $46B manufacturing giant Caterpillar, Inc. In addition to her 30-year career holding various leadership positions at the company, she recently worked to transform the Foundation into one of the most influential corporate foundations through the launch of its collaborative impact platform known as Together. Stronger, a catalyst for shared prosperity that unites businesses, non-profits, government, and citizens to combine their strengths to alleviate poverty for millions of people worldwide.
Michele is a globally-recognized motivational speaker, appreciated for her ability to inspire audiences of over 60,000 people while talking about resilience, social impact, diversity, and the power of collaboration. Her popular TED talk at TEDWomen has exceeded over 1.6 million views.