By Angela Copeland
Living through a disaster is hard. Really, this is an understatement. It’s more than hard.
I grew up in a place where natural disasters are the norm. I grew up in a suburb of Oklahoma City. You would have never heard of it, except for the natural disasters (and one famous country music singer). It’s called Moore. You probably saw it on the news in 1999 and 2013 when F5 tornadoes destroyed much of the city. It was devastating. Homes and businesses were destroyed. And, sadly, lives were lost.
The special thing about Moore is just how resilient it is. Every time a tornado wipes the ground clean, people rebuild. They continue to have excellent public schools. It’s safe. The economy is doing well.
If another city had been hit with the level of devastation Moore has, people would have packed up and moved by now. They would have had enough of the disasters and the drama and the heartbreak.
In Moore, the people come together in a way that doesn’t exist everywhere. They’re a true community. They support one another. They know that in order to get through disasters, they have to do it together. And, they have lots of practice.
I don’t live in Moore anymore. But, after COVID-19 hit, one of the first people I saw was a friend from Moore. Although I hadn’t seen him in over 20 years, he personally drove a face mask to my home when I didn’t have one. He knew, as the community in Moore knows, that in order to get through this, we have to do it together.
When you go to work every day, I hope you’ll keep this in mind. We are all facing unique challenges. Some people are caring for small children. Others are trying to help their aging parents. And some are self-isolating completely alone. None of these different scenarios are easy.
As businesses, we’re only going to make it through this in one piece if we do it together. We’ve got to pick up the slack for our colleagues when they can’t. Everyone matters. This isn’t the time to judge harshly or to compete with one another. People have different levels of support or flexibility at home. No one was planning ahead for how to weather such a storm.
Not everyone has a nanny who can take care of their children during the day. Not every older person has adult children nearby who can help. And, not every single person has loved ones nearby. Every scenario is creating stress and strain.
The only answer is to work together. It’s not the time to make a fuss over little things. It’s not the time to feel guilty when you aren’t perfect. It’s the time to step forward with empathy and compassion, both for our colleagues and for ourselves. We are all struggling. And, that’s okay — as long as we stick together.
Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.