Reflection on COVID-19: The Risk of Pulling Apart While We Keep Our Distance

Let’s be honest. Dealing with the COVID-19 maelstrom – both the knowns and unknowns – over the last few weeks has been emotionally rattling and unnerving.  Although I tend to be an optimistic person – even a risk taker — I have found myself feeling quite nervous about travel in confined spaces, about large crowds, and been somewhat fearful for my personal safety and that of my loved ones.

On a personal level, I’m realizing that I do need to be appropriately cautious, make realistic decisions about travel and projects, yet also to be loving and kind and generous with others. Usually I express my kindness and care for others through physical touch, such as a warm handshake or a friendly hug. Now I have to be cautious about physical touch and therefore, find other ways to express warmth and appreciation. This means a kinder word, a warmer smile, and taking more time to listen.

In addition to learning how to keep emotionally close while maintaining safe physical separation, we will also need to get better at communicating and conducting work through new technologies. This week, I had one upcoming workshop canceled and another workshop that I will be conducting has been converted to a virtual format.

Over the last couple of years, we’ve been doing more and more video-based virtual meetings, virtual coaching for clients, and informational webinars, but this will be a crash course in getting better at virtual training and professional development for many of us. Live meetings don’t translate exactly into the virtual space, so it is an important opportunity to learn how to use virtual technologies in a way that is as effective and engaging as possible.

Honestly, I don’t have anything super profound to say here, but I’ll finish with something kind of obvious. Let’s remember that – as we face this worldwide pandemic, we are in this together; I believe every human being has inherent dignity, created in God’s image, and we need to embrace our common humanity with compassion in times like these. Even though we must practice “social distance” in a physical sense, let’s work hard to draw close with others in an emotional and relational sense, as family members, friends, colleagues, citizens and fellow inhabitants of our “Blue Marble” in space.

Good luck and God bless,

Hans

Hans Meeder is President of NC3T, the National Center for College and Career Transitions (www.nc3t.com). NC3T provides planning, coaching, technical assistance and tools to help community-based leadership teams plan and implement their college-career pathway systems and strengthen employer connections with education. 

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