In this direct message to listeners, Sharon checks in about the current crisis and shares her thoughts on how we can approach our work during this time as we navigate such rapid and unpredictable change.
00:00 Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom: Greetings. I’m your host, Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom. I just wanted to jump in here to give you a little bit of explanation. Today is… [chuckle] It’s hard to keep track of the days. Today is April 8th, 2020, and if you are listening to this in real time, you know what’s going on. There’s a worldwide pandemic crisis, and we’re right in the middle of it. If you’re listening to this in the future, this is a strange form of time travel, back to a time that might be hard to imagine. I wanted to come on and speak to you directly a little bit because, in our last few episodes I haven’t mentioned the crisis that’s going on at all. And that was for a couple of reasons. First and foremost the episodes that were broadcast during March were recorded early. And as pre-recorded broadcasts, all the conversation happened before we had any idea that this was coming. So we were talking about normal things that we would always say to each other like, “Oh I’m gonna go to this basketball game” or just talking about our lives day-to-day as if nothing was in crisis.
01:16 ST: I apologize if listening to those in real time created any distress or dissonance for you. I hope that you understood that like many podcasters things are pre-recorded or batched and that was coming out from what seems like although not long ago, it seems like forever ago. So that’s what the explanation is for why I was not referencing the current crisis in those March episodes and why we were talking about things seemingly in real time that seems like they shouldn’t have been able to happen because of everything that’s going on. I had considered trying to jump in and edit those episodes or add a statement before those episodes, but I was actually away from my podcasting studio and it would have been very difficult for me to do so, and I was hoping that there was nothing that would be too off-putting in those episodes.
02:16 ST: In fact, if you listened to our last episode with Gina Marie Byars, I actually think that even though we had no idea what was coming, She offered some really great insights about what to do when you’re adjusting to great changes in your life. She was talking about the changes in her family life, but a lot of it still applies, and for that matter in today’s crisis, a lot of us are adjusting to great changes in our family life brought on by everything that’s happening. So I would recommend that episode. I think it’s actually profoundly relevant right now.
02:53 ST: Moving forward I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do, whether I’m going to bring you new episodes in the same format or whether I might be doing some solo shows obviously, like most people I am at home right now, but the great thing is that I have podcast equipment at home, and I can broadcast from home. It just makes it a little more difficult for me to interview other people. So I would welcome any suggestions you have about what you would like to hear from this show, if there are stories that you think would be great to listen to during this time, whether those are stories with past guests about how the current crisis is affecting them or whether we stick to stories about helping and doing good, that may or may not actually relate to the current situation. If you’ve got suggestions you can contact me at Connect@Sharonspeaks.com, you can also follow the Facebook page, Facebook.com/dogoodbegoodshow and offer your ideas there. I would be happy to take suggestions for guests or suggestions for stories that you would like to hear.
04:07 ST: On a personal note, at the moment as of April 8th I am well and safe at home and grateful to be so. My husband is an essential worker he’s out working as an electrician so he’s still leaving the house, but as of yet, he is still also healthy and our immediate family are all healthy and well as of this date. So I hope that as this message reaches you, you are staying safe and well as best you can in your situation, and I hope that you can lean on those who are closest to you and find comfort and friends, family, beauty, nature.
04:54 ST: In addition to hosting this show, I also run a business by the same name: Do Good Be Good. And my client work has, of course, slowed or be been postponed at the moment, for the most part, but I am also thinking about what it means to work during this time. There are some people like my husband who are essential workers. There’s those who you would think about, of course, like the health care workers who are so incredibly important and are helping so many people and doing very difficult work and doing so in extremely difficult conditions, and I wanna give them a huge round of thanks and gratefulness from myself and from all of us. There’s also a lot of other people who are still working who are working in restaurants, grocery stores, for utility companies, for local government in areas like picking up our trash, postal workers, there’s a lot of people out there who are going out everyday in much more difficult conditions and at risk of their personal safety. And I just think about them every day.
06:12 ST: And thank you for the important work that you’re doing, I really appreciate it. A lot of the people I work with in my business, they work in the type of jobs where they’re being asked to work from home right now, whether that’s working for a higher education institution or for parts of local government that are more on the management and administration side or who are working at non-profits that are in the arts, lots of people I work with on a regular basis are trying to work from home but also finding that very difficult to figure out what they can still expect of their work, what they can do and be productive at, how much bandwidth mentally and emotionally they have to be able to give themselves into their work. And what does it mean if you feel like you can’t work right now?
07:09 ST: Like technically, you could work if you’re capable of doing your work from home, and yet it doesn’t feel appropriate or you just can’t wrap your mind around your work because so much else has changed in your life and in the world. And I just wanted to share that I think that the more we can give each other space, to step back from what we were expecting to do right now, in our work, in our lives, it’s hard to make such an incredible shift from your expectations of everything that you might’ve had on your calendar, in your planner for several weeks, maybe even a few months or more, but things are different now and I think that the more we can give each other that space, give ourselves the grace to re-adjust and take whatever it is we need during this time, whether that’s more time sitting in the sun on a porch or a patio just breathing. Whether that’s more time with your kids, to just try to find some positive connection with them while they’re spending so much time at home, whether that’s time in a bubble bath away from your kids or away from anyone else who’s asking so much of you right now.
08:42 ST: I just hope that we can recognize that it’s different. These are unprecedented times, we are living through something that hopefully we won’t have to live through again in our lifetimes. And it’s not kind to expect the same level of productivity from those workers whose work can be postponed right now. There’s so many people who are doing such critical work to manage the crisis or to respond as first responders whether that’s in healthcare or in public safety, they need our support, they need us to also do what we need to do to stay home and stay healthy and stay safe and not need any more from those systems. So if you work in an area where you could postpone your work, I offer that as something I think would be beneficial and a real sign of leadership for all of us in industries where, although we could still get things done from home, we could try to push on with all of the things on our task list, all the objectives we had hoped to accomplish in the next quarter that maybe you don’t, and but that that’s okay, and that that might be actually the kindest thing to do, for one another and for yourself and for your family. I know a lot of people right now who are feeling pressure from their employer to still be held accountable to expectations that were set before the world completely changed.
10:44 ST: I would submit that we need to completely re-adjust expectations during this time period. One other piece of this that I’ve been thinking about a lot is that in my work, I help people manage change in organizations and I often talk about helping people navigate change usually in a work setting and how much similarity there is a lot of times in big transitions, whether it’s personal or work that some of the same things apply. And I remember studying the five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance in a sociology class, and how during monumental change, any kind of big change in our life, our response to it can often take the form of those stages of grief.
11:49 ST: So even if we’re not directly grieving a loved one, we may be grieving the fact that everything that we thought was gonna happen in the next few months is not gonna happen. We’re maybe letting go of something. I know people have had to cancel or postpone weddings and events. There’s people who were about to start jobs who have now lost those jobs. There’s all kinds of different forms of loss and of change that we are each dealing with, whether that’s something that seems small, in the bigger picture or whether you are grieving a loved one. I just want to give voice to the fact that that is a process and it takes mental and emotional energy to process those big changes. So if you feel like you don’t have as much mental or emotional energy, left to form coherent sentences, or to remember what day it is or to do any of the things that people are asking of you that’s a real thing. Even if your life hasn’t been directly affected as much, just knowing the level of uncertainty in the world at large, it takes something out of us.
13:18 ST: So if no one’s said that yet, just let me be the one to say that it is normal to feel different everyday just like in the grieving process, it’s normal to have a day where you feel angry, part of the day, maybe a morning where you feel depressed, and an afternoon where you’re in denial and you’re just getting everything done as if nothing’s happening. Those are all natural, normal ways of trying to deal with such monumental changes that we are all going through. So that’s part of why I wanna reinforce this idea that if you’re in a world of work right now, where you have the option to postpone your work… And I’m not saying that that doesn’t… That that has any bearing on how important the work is, I know that makes it really hard for some people ’cause you worry that if you say, you know, “Let’s just not work on this for the next three months that someone might question if that work is important.
14:26 ST: If it’s still a priority. It is. And at the same time, we are living through an unprecedented crisis, that calls for a shift in where we put our energy and focus right now. So if you’re in a position of leadership and you have the ability to give employees more mental and emotional space to just deal with everything please do that. People need time to process how they’re going through this, they need time to check in on their loved ones. They need time to step up for their neighbors, and for their communities. I hope to keep coming back with some form of a new episode of Do good Be good, every other week. The format might change the production schedule might change, like I said, these are unprecedented times. So let’s just all take it day by day. And if there’s a story that I can offer to you or a way that I can bring something to you with this format that would be helpful right now, please let me know. If nothing else, know that I’m thinking about you. And I’m wishing you all peace and health and safety. And wherever you are, whatever field you work in, I know that you’re doing the best you can right now and it’s important and it’s enough and we really appreciate it. So thank you all, and I hope to speak to you again soon. With that, this is Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom, signing off.