Only 70 Percent

A leader at work whom I really respect recently posted in one of the Slack channels that they left 2020 at 0%. And that the two week break was only enough to get them back to about 70%, instead of what should have been 100%.

Man did that resonate with me.

In years past, I would be looking forward to a trip back to B.C. Maybe to go skiing at Whistler, or to visit my parents over March break. That’s where we were in March 2020; we took our last real trip to Tofino, B.C. right when this was all kicking off. As I wrote in “28 Days Later”

We were fortunate to go to Tofino in B.C. We called ahead and they were very excited to have us come. It was “business as usual.” We had a lovely five days, but by the Wednesday, the town of Tofino had already started to ask visitors to go home. We flew back to Vancouver a day early, and spent a day with my parents. That day was fantastic, because I have no idea when I will spend time with them again.

And I managed to go to B.C. to see my parents in late August / early September, back when the case loads were very low in both places. That now feels like it was a risk, but I’m so grateful I did it, because I don’t know when I’ll see my parents again.

We were supposed to travel over Christmas (cancelled) and again this upcoming March break (not going to do it). We kept getting our hopes up, only to have them dashed.

And that’s part of the reason that I came back to work at 70%, at best. I’m struggling with a number of things:

  1. I’m incredibly lucky that I have a job at a company that is extremely well positioned to survive and thrive in the pandemic.
  2. I have a home that has enough space that I can set up a good home office that includes a home gym. I even bought an indoor cycling trainer to help with my miles.
  3. My kid seems to be doing okay with remote learning. He’s in grade 11, so hopefully he can have a social life in grade 12
  4. Because we’ve been able to “Default to Digital”, I am working with a great set of new people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. A dear friend, who is remote in Québec City, was able to join us and I “see” him far more than before.
  5. No one in my immediate family has had COVID, even though friends have lost loved ones to it.

I try to count those blessings. But it just rings a little hollow.

There’s something off. Maybe it’s the combination of things. Maybe it’s the fact that we have no idea when this will end. Maybe it’s that people I work with look to me to have answers and I don’t anymore.

We stopped work in 2020 on December 18 and took two weeks break. At that point, a number of re-orgs, departures, and changes just meant that I was done. I was at the 0%. But the problem was that all of the issues were just deferred. The two week break helped, but not enough, because I came back to the exact same set of problems; what would the re-org mean? did we lose critical people and how would we adapt? And when will this damn pandemic be over?!

I read a lot of management stuff. Melissa and John Nightingale of Raw Signal Group have been writing about this for a year. And it’s helpful, I guess. Lara Hogan writes about how to lead through crises. And yet, even though I know people are dealing with the same things, I feel blah.

I think, for me, it comes down to guilt. I feel guilty for being relatively well off, and still feeling like shit. Still feeling traumatized by the last year. I don’t know what to make of it, or how to fix it. But I do know that others feel the same. I guess that has to be enough.