An Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post got me thinking about how we should plan to proceed successfully out of the shelter-in-place orders that being lifted. No matter the guidance offered from local, state, or federal government, we should all understand that not everyone is going to have the same level of comfort as we all step together into the next stage of our current reality. There are some folks that can’t wait to jump back into their regular routines, getting back out to work, going to restaurants, and generally minimizing the concerns around Covid. There are others that have sworn they will never emerge from their houses until there is an effective vaccine.
The people that will be most successful coming out of the initial crisis are the pragmatists. Taking a hard line and insisting that everyone must acquiesce to their way of thinking will result in alienating people that don’t agree with your perspective. The “open it up” crowd will only antagonize people who feel justifiably concerned about their health. The “keep everyone locked down” folks ignore the fact that an entire country and economy can’t just grind to a halt indefinitely.
We must be flexible in order to make progress. We need to take smart actions towards engaging the economic engines of the country, getting people back to work, and finding ways to make sure that everyone is productive. We also need to invest the time, effort, and care to make sure that people feel comfortable enough to be effective. We must engage and find ways to move forward with projects and meetings even if it feels a little uncomfortable to be out of the house. And that also means being comfortable wearing a mask and staying 6 feet away from people that we’re meeting. We’re all going to have to move out of our comfort zones. We’re going to have to be willing to meet people where they are, not insist that they come to us. We’re all going to have to stretch and be more empathetic.
Speaking from personal experience, my family has been living through a home renovation for the past eight months. We’ve had workers coming and going, doing our best to manage the project, all while working from home and managing remote learning for our two children. We could have shut down the project and insisted that nothing happen until this was all over. Or we could have just let the project run full speed ahead with strangers wandering in and out of our house as we just lived through it. We worked with the builder to find a middle ground that allowed them to work around us while also keeping everyone separated and as comfortable as possible. It was stressful for everyone, but it kept the project moving and allowed it to maintain our sanity. I know it’s possible to move forward while being conscious of heath and safety concerns.
Staking a position that alienates someone with an alternate viewpoint of the Covid situation only serves to create disruption, arguments, and is counterproductive and doesn’t serve anybody’s long term interests. Let’s find ways to work together and be willing to make appropriate compromises.
Covid isn’t disappearing tomorrow. The most successful people will be the ones that find ways to be flexible as the situation demands.