Wishes, Productivity and Hope in the Time of Corona

By Aida Sykes ~ Gender & Inclusive Business Specialist on 26 Apr 2020Personal Journey


On wishes

Be careful what you wish for? I began the year wishing for “a more progressive, inclusive new decade with markedly reduced inequality,” and our world was promptly visited by a crisis that has shown us precisely where our societies are weakest and cruelest, where we are most vulnerable. The swiftness with which our world ground to a halt was astonishing. The loss of life, and the loss of livelihoods, has been and continues to be humbling. So much that we took for granted, good and bad, has come up against an organism that is not interested in anything but its own flourishing, at any cost. Now why does that sound familiar?


On productivity

“Always do your best… Your best is going to change from moment to moment. It will be different when you are healthy as opposed to when you are sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best…” – Don Miguel Ruize, The Four Agreements (1997)


Depending on one’s job function, finances, relationship status, parental status, household set-up, and of course, one’s health, this period can range from one of contemplative creativity to one of mental upheaval and fear, and everything in between. This makes doing our best at pre-COVID-19 levels difficult, so the first step is redefining what our best can look like right now, not letting perfect be the enemy of good. I tell myself this often throughout the day, to encourage myself to keep going on a task, and to comfort myself when I can’t. Breaking down outputs into their smallest components helps with focus and with prioritization. When I complete a task I savor it, whereas previously I would move on to the next thing without too much thought. As a result, I’m more mindful of what I enjoy in my work, and what I don’t, which will likely inform what I do more of after this period passes. During my many pauses for hydration and distraction I think about how our way of work will be changed by this period. For example, will we still have impostor syndrome after weeks, maybe months, of being more compassionate to our professional selves? Could the anxious overachiever be a casualty of COVID-19? I hope so, for all our sakes.


On hope

The Qu’ran frequently states “these are signs for those who believe,” but I don’t think one has to be a believer to see that a virus that doesn’t care about nationality, class, religion, gender or race, but which can be mitigated by soap, sacrifice and collaboration is a powerful sign that we need to put humanity first if any of us want to thrive again. I say “thrive again,” not “return to normal,” because what we had wasn’t normal. It was too mindless, it perpetuated gross inequality, it was not sustainable. One way to honor the lives and livelihoods lost to this new coronavirus is to recognize that, and to do better, before it’s too late. There is a world where COVID-19 could have been an inconvenient illness that was quickly managed by strong health systems and strong economies that had sufficient buffers to protect jobs and incomes. Thinking of building that world gives me hope, as does thinking of the essential workers and scientists working day and night to pull us out of this hole we fell into. It shouldn’t have come to this, but maybe it had to for us to make a change. We are in this together, and we all have a part to play.


By Aida Sykes ~ Gender & Inclusive Business Specialist