I’ve been thinking a lot about you recently.
How are you doing? No, not that perfunctory “I hope you don’t really answer truthfully” how are you doing question. I mean, with profound concern, how are you really doing?
It was about a year ago that we were getting reports of some strange events in Wuhan. A 61-year-old man had died from a mysterious pneumonia of unknown etiology. Shortly thereafter, a 61-year-old woman in Thailand died from the same mysterious ailment. There was no link between the two of them.
By January 25, 2020, the invisible killer became COVID-19, and it began travelling like a king tide looking for hosts through the US, Canada, Europe, indeed, the world. Life seemed to alter overnight.
Today, as I write, the globe has just passed 2 million deaths across 214 countries. The virus has now infected just under 100 million people.
So, I’ll ask again, how are you really doing?
It’s an important question to ask. Now, more than ever, we need to be asking our families, work teams, neighbours, and others how they really are doing. We can’t be smug and assume all is well. It’s likely not.
There are stress points, and then there are stress points.

Maybe you’ve felt the impact of COVID-19 directly. Whether you’ve had to deal with the disease in your own body, someone else’s, or a member of your immediate circle has died from it; there is no escaping the constancy of its presence.
Some of you have children. Many of those children are desperately trying to keep it together, be it due to remote learning, isolation issues, or not having the chance to play outside with friends. The burden children face is only exacerbated by parents trying their best to help their offspring as best they can. It just doesn’t feel right to see a five-year-old wearing a mask.
Some of you have lost your job. Maybe you’re now underemployed. Hours were cut. Many of you have been forced to work from home, stuck in a time warp of mundanity, missing the camaraderie and bad jokes of your teammates. I, for one, miss body language. The webcam lens is nice, but there’s something to be said about physically observing how someone smiles, frowns, or gesticulates at another lousy PowerPoint presentation.
Then there are some of you who venture off into the virus fray, deemed an essential worker. Healthcare workers are my new superheroes, but so too are the teachers and academics (like my better half, Denise). They courageously enter a school every day to deliver a socially distanced curriculum. (For those cities where in-person learning is still allowed.)

The grocery staff, restaurant cooks and servers, and anyone that gets up, gets dressed and allows people like me—the home worker—to be suitably nourished deserve a lifetime badge of honour. Having been a grocer in my teens, I can fully empathize with their situation.
The news is no help either. Sure, there is hope with the recent release of various vaccines. Still, the daily case counts, infection rates, and death numbers do nothing to assuage our plight and predicament of the cockamamie “coronavirus.” It’s never-ending, and it’s neverendingly stressful.

Remind me, why did I agree to dry January?

What can you do?

I’d like us to take care of one another a little better in 2021 and beyond. I think we need a little more self-care as well.

The pandemic has provided us with an opportunity. Despite the dark and gloomy shadow that it continues to cast, I urge you to get real. I implore you to use this time to reinstate compassion.
First, set time aside to go deeper with the “how are you doing” question. This is no time to be flippant. Dig. Press. Cajole. Investigate. Peer. Prod. Open. Love. It’s time for you to invest in your relationships.
Second, pay it forward. Maybe you can bake some cookies or regift a book you’ve already read to somebody. Perhaps you’ve seen a movie, show or TED Talk that you could share with someone. Simply put, pay it forward – gift others with something that will make them a) feel good and b) remember that you really do care about them.
And third, drop your guard. No one is going to award you a trophy for being a Teflon pan of impenetrable emotions. Ask for help. Ask for money. Ask for those baked cookies. Ask for an ear. Ask for love. Do not be afraid to ask others for what you need to make it through this vastitude of unease.
If you can, please share below in the comments how you’ve helped others throughout the pandemic. If you simply need an ear and want to drop a line of concern, leave it below as well and we (and others) can have an online discussion to help. I promise you it may even be cathartic.
Wishing you all the best.
And please, take care.

PS. Please leave a suggestion, tip, reply, question or concern below in the comments. We're all in this together.




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  • Dan is a conference organizer’s ideal speaker. Not only did he inspire and energize our group, but he also masterfully adapted his content so it resonated with the audience and our conference theme. As a bonus, Dan is able to nimbly navigate to adjust to a reduced time slot when other speakers went over time without sacrificing the impact of his session.

    Director and General Counsel
  • Dan accomplished what we set out to do, which was not only to be inspirational, but also to leave everyone with tools and food for thought / self-reflection to improve their personal and professional lives.

    Hermann Handa, FCT
  • Dan challenged us to have clarity of purpose, both as individuals and as an organization. He related inspiring stories drawing on his experience in business, technology and academia. As he said, ‘There is no ownership without belonging.’

    Christian Pantel, D2L
  • Dan Pontefract suggests leaders must be transformational and transactional, collaborative and considerate, daring and decisive, inclusive and insistent, playful and formal, harmonious, and humble, encouraging and results-driven. In a word, Flat.

    Robert Morris
    “How to strengthen engagement, empowerment, and execution, then leverage them for a decisive competitive advantage”

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