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From Our President, Kris Duffy

COVID-19: How should it be on the other side?

Nine weeks of a stay-at-home life creates time to reflect on what we may feel we’ve lost, and what we might hope to regain when the virus is tamed.

I’ve been thinking about the symbols of what makes us human that we’ve temporarily lost and should want to regain.

We need touch. It connects us to others, gives us a sense of belonging, kindness, and love. Social distancing has torn that away from us. I miss the handshake, the frivolous high five, the hug to show you care. Let’s maintain this symbol of connection

We need eye contact. Although not all cultures are the same and with full acknowledgement that this is hard for some, the general standard of engagement here encourages eye contact. It is a way of knowing someone is listening. When you are six feet apart, communicating via phone, email, text, and even on video, eye contact is lost. I’ve been on many ZOOM calls these days and still see people looking away, “multi-tasking” while others are talking. It feels cold and inauthentic. Don’t underestimate the power of looking someone in the eye, even if temporarily on video, when they are talking. Let’s keep practicing.

We need communication. Oh yes, the commonly used word to symbolize strong leadership. We’ve watched our leaders at all levels communicate. Some well, some not so well. With the elimination of face to face communication, we’ve depended upon email, text, phone, video. All helpful assistants, but not much replaces in person. Let’s keep the tools to support communication when the messages are easy or makes information more widely accessible, but please let’s not minimize the need to be with each other.

One thing I don’t wish to regain. The frenetic pace of our world.

Sleep, for example. I’ve heard from many that they are sleeping more, because the demands on our time have changed. Maybe this is a good thing to preserve.

Time with our loved ones. If we are fortunate enough to be home with people who love us, we’ve had the time to talk more, to be, to appreciate. Let’s not lose this again.

The lessons of the last nine weeks and most likely more to come are many. The saying “Hope is not a plan” may be true when we are hammering out strategic plans, but today I think hope is a plan. It’s what gets us through the darker times.

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