Following my previous post, “Reducing Work from Home Burnout,” I happened to talk to my friend from school days. The pandemic and WFH have taken a toll on a significant amount of the working population. Every company, every employee has a story of influence, a tale of loss, and a compelling need to move forward in the best way. I say the best way because there is nothing you can do about a loss, but what do you do after that is vital. Thinking about the loss keeps you locked in the past, but the memories of the person you lost can be a big motivator. Here is a summary of our conversation, and I hope there are some insights all readers can take home.
My friend said, “My team member passed away due to COVID the day before. Folks who were closely working with him are down. I can only console them with a few words but can’t expect them to be productive. But I have deadlines to meet which my super boss can’t change. What can I do in this situation?”
I tried to learn more about this colleague of my friend’s and her team. The team is about 120 in strength, and the team member who lost his life was only 40 years old and was an agile coach. She said that all that will happen now is that the company will try to replace him and go on as planned. That’s the only way forward. There was a lamenting of the inevitable path ahead, but something told me that is not the best step forward.
Mental Health is critical where there is a loss and how we think about it and act on it can either be constructive or destructive. This situation applies to any loss within a family or at work.
I wondered what could be the best way forward and probed to understand more about the colleague who passed away. I asked her what this colleague’s fundamental principles were and what kind of person he was.
He was a ‘Big Data’ developer, took an interest in SAFe methodologies from a work perspective. After a massive effort over the past two years, he transitioned himself as an agile coach. He was a very calm and down-to-earth person.
I was thinking aloud, knowing what he had to do to change to a role he loved — the agile coach! What would his legacy be now? How can we pay tribute to this colleague and carry on his work in his absence and make him proud? I posed these questions and followed up with what I felt was the right step toward my friend and her team.
What is the best way to honor someone who was so impactful, showed courage and persistence through hard work to make the change? I am sure he would have wanted the team to march on in the same spirit that he embodied and walked the talk in the last few years.
This colleague showed by example,
“Keep learning, don’t be afraid of taking risks, and it is never late to change for the better!”.
Change doesn’t get handed out to you; courage doesn’t get door-delivered for you to pick up. Change comes from within. In this case, the shift in attitude could be to pay it forward like this former colleague did but more importantly, I look forward to how my friend and her team can keep marching.
No one can pull you down unless that is what you want to happen. Every situation is only to test your grit. Irrespective of how unfair the problem is, it can only be an opportunity, the right one, to move forward. Pick up things where the departed soul left and make it worthwhile even after he is gone.