2021 Retrospective
The Power of Human Connection

Reading the business blogs these days, it has been difficult to avoid the word burnout.

Times of uncertainty tax our systems.  It’s a little like being outside in the cold without a coat.  As the temperature goes down, we must use more of our energy to maintain ourselves properly.  The same is true when we face uncertainty.  We must expend more energy to remain on an even keel emotionally.

The choices have been a challenge.  Will the vaccine help me, and others like me?  Can I go back to the office to work and be safe?  Can I travel and maintain my health?  Can I go see my parents who live elsewhere?  Should I quit this job and work somewhere else?  Should I move?  Will my kids be able to continue their schooling?

It’s no wonder that people are experiencing burnout: Remote work, in-office work, Zoom meetings back-to-back.  Suddenly, we have balancing decisions to make.  Is it fair for some to work remotely, while others must return to the office, the coffee shop, the plant floor, the warehouse, or the hospital for their work? 

One of the early messages of the pandemic was, “We’re all in this together.”  It spoke to something very important to all of us – Community.  At our core, we are highly social beings.  During the Korean Conflict, Chinese captors would imprison downed pilots in solitary confinement.  After 50 days or so living this way, these poor young men would go into a corner, pull a blanket over themselves, and give up living for lack of connection.   Interaction is vital for us…it is our emotional oxygen.  The pandemic threatened to cut us off from it.  No wonder we experienced stress, which showed up in the form of burnout.

By mid-year, businesses began cautiously exploring re-opening.  Simultaneously, people began to schedule travel to other parts of the country and throughout the world.  Previously empty workplaces began to vibrate with the energy of people once again.  Airports went quickly from subdued to saturated.

The news that the economy had roared back from pandemic levels was welcome even though it meant that a host of problems cropped up in shortages and back-orders.  Nevertheless, all these problems are ironically cause for gratitude.  We have been able to come together, to re-establish a life rhythm that is more natural.  We can connect with family members, friends, business colleagues, prospects, and vendors in a meaningful way.

We find ourselves at year’s end: cases have been down; cases are now going back up.  A new variant is in the offing.  With the growth in cases worldwide, authorities abroad are considering whether to institute additional lockdown mandates.  This has sparked large protests.  Why?  No one wants to be sequestered and alone. People value the ability to connect and be close to one another too much to go through this again.  They would rather fight through this problem – together. 

Community.  Something that people crave.  We see it in our local coffee shops, and in our lunchrooms, bars, and restaurants, now open.  It’s easy spot the energy generated in a face-to-face meeting, something that relegates 20 faces on a computer screen to a distant second place in terms of connection.  Feelings can be hard to quantify, but the distinction between virtual and real meetings is palpable even to the casual observer. 

The pandemic has become endemic; but we have each other.  This became intensely personal as we were informed recently of the untimely death of a close family friend.  Even though we have lost many who were close to us, we are grateful that they graced us with their humor, their wisdom, their presence.  As we gathered to celebrate this young man’s life, we were so strongly grateful for those who are still among us, their value to us now much more sharply evident.

Community is vital to us as human beings.  Let us rejoice in the connections we cherish.

Ready, Mindset, Grow!

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