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Working Through Tragedy

What’s it like at work right now?

Are you engaged? Are you excited? Are you present?

Check in with yourself.

Now think about your team.

Back to work

In just the last 24 days, we’ve had a lot on our minds. Lots of people are struggling to maintain the veneer of holding it all together, especially at work.

  • It’s everyone worried about their reproductive rights being stripped and criminalized.
  • It’s everyone in an inter-racial or same sex marriage worried about the future legality or recognition of their right to love who they want to.
  • It’s all of your black team members who now have to add grocery shopping to the already long list of dangers of existing while black in America.
  • It’s the parents worried about sending their children to school, especially your Latinx team members.
  • It’s the Asian-American team members who continue to see hate crimes perpetuated against them with little acknowledgement or urgency from the media or politicians.

It’s all of these groups, those in solidarity with these groups, and so many more I didn’t specifically mention, who are once again being asked/forced to show up at work and pretend none of it is affecting them. They’re often being asked to check those thoughts at the door or leave them in the Zoom waiting room.

Many are trapped in debt, trapped for healthcare, or trapped just to keep a roof over head and food on the table. In the midst of all of that, our collective solution seems to be to just keep pushing forward, working, compartmentalizing…carrying on with a stiff upper lip.

So, in the absence of a massive general strike to change the material conditions of every human in our economy, what are our next best options?

Check-ins & Space

Ok leaders, I’m talking to you here. It’s time to step up.

Side note: If by the term “leader” you’re not sure who I’m talking to…I might be talking to you. A leader is anyone willing to carry the responsibility, burden and privilege of the designation. It’s anyone ready to stand up and serve their team. I couldn’t care less what your title is.

Let’s say things out loud that need to be said. If you are someone who is not directly affected by all of the myriad events of the last month, now is the best time to step up and use the power and privilege at your disposal to advocate and create space for those who are deeply impacted.

Set the tone

As you hop from Zoom call to Teams call, start by checking in and giving space. It might sound like this:

“Hi everyone, before we get started, I just want to acknowledge that there are a lot of things that have happened in just the last month alone that may be a lot for some of us to carry emotionally. Everyone’s well being is more important than anything we’re going to discuss here today. I want to encourage everyone to participate in whatever way feels right to you, even if that means not participating or even dropping off of today’s call.”

I can’t give you a script that will fit every scenario so please don’t reply with a snarky comment about how that won’t work at your company. The bottom line is to take the idea, not the script. Create a space for humans, not employees. Humans in our companies are hurting and struggling to talk about things that quite frankly feel remarkably unimportant in the midst of all this death and trauma.


Our priorities at work generally revolve around deliverables and what matters to the company. It’s long overdue for the scales to rebalance. If you’re a leader, especially a Lovable Leader, then it is imperative that you see this opportunity to pick a side. The side you should be choosing is each other, not the company and its profitability.

Nearly everyone in this country has something to be concerned about right now, so our expectations of each other should be changing accordingly, as should our priorities.

We’re all trying to work through these tragedies, and maybe that’s part of the problem. Maybe we should be less concerned with working through these tragedies and more concerned with working on these tragedies.

NOTE: I’ve been having a very hard time writing on this blog recently. I can’t bring myself to publish a post on brand, or productivity. I can’t wrap my head around how to give advice on marketing or sales. Even talking about leadership and culture can only lead back to one core idea: we can’t keep going on like this.

I desperately want to get back to writing about all of these topics that I’m so passionate about, but the spark just isn’t there right now. The only thing that matters to me is taking care of each other, forging partnerships, and taking action to make meaningful change. If you’re working on or a part of something like that, I’d love to hear about it.

I know many of my subscribers signed up for business insights and practical how-to posts. I am sorry that I’m not creating that sort of content lately. While I hope to be back to it soon, I can only encourage you to get your fix of that by searching the back catalog of posts.
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