March 31, 2021

A Whole New Ballgame - The Vaccine

The vaccine may be the answer to Covid, but it also raises a lot of questions.

Many times a day I’m being reminded that this moment in time -- when most of us in the US are gaining near-term access to the Covid-19 vaccine -- presents a wealth of brand new questions.

It seemed as if the vaccine prospects would be all green light. We can go back to work, support local businesses even more, be with friends and family indoors, hug. That’s all part of this wonderful new reality, but I’m hearing some murmurs of some of the less exciting aspects of this transition that we’re all going to be making for what feels like the very first time.

Here are a few things I’m seeing in myself, my friends, and my clients.

We have all been saying we can’t wait for things to get back to “normal” with socializing, but some of us have grown comfortable with a new, quieter, home-based life. One of my friends said she feels sad to be losing an automatic excuse for staying home instead of going for a big hike or going out at night. Without the universally-accepted Covid excuse, she fears she will put pressure on herself to do things she doesn’t want to do so she doesn’t risk losing the validation from others (and from herself).

This personal dance aligns well with the professional dance so many of us are doing right now. Inasmuch as we miss informal coffee klatches at the office, a lot of us have grown to love the flexibility of working from home and hiring people without regard to location. Many of my clients do not want to go back to full-time, location-specific work or single-purpose cross-country (or global) travel. Some of you reading this have choice in how to navigate this shift in work; some of you will have less choice. All of us would be wise to acknowledge what we’ve gained from this one year revolution in work style. It seems productivity didn’t suffer, and many aspects of our personal lives were radically improved.

Another facet of what’s next is that many people are still scared. We have the updated CDC guidelines, but we’ve grown so accustomed (I should say “I” here) to viewing other humans as risky, that letting go of our distance all at once upon vaccination feels counterintuitive, to say the least. We have built many conscious and unconscious walls around ourselves and our families; knocking them down presents as much fear as joy for many of us. This harrowing self-inquiry got more complicated for so many in my community with last week’s mass shooting in Boulder.

The topic of vaccination itself is complicated. Some people are against vaccinations, some people are unable to be vaccinated due to health issues, and I’m worried that simply asking the question about whether someone is vaccinated might get as hopelessly politicized in the next few months as masks were over the last year. I want to know who is vaccinated so I can know if being with that person live is an option. Can I ask?

Given the complexity of asking about vaccination or setting parameters around it at work, there’s tremendous uncertainty about what we can and cannot ask each other to do in the workplace. Can we organize an in-person senior team offsite in the summer? Can I create an in-person Leadership Camp in Boulder this summer and set it up such that only vaccinated attendees will come? Can I ask the enrolled attendees of the Coaching Certification and Intentional Wealth Immersive (all set as virtual right now) whether they’re willing to come to Boulder instead? When I ask, can I ask if they’re vaccinated? If I cannot do those things, then am I just making a decision (if I feel it’s warranted for my safety) that I am never going to have another in-person Conscious Leadership event?

I have felt throughout this last 13 months that everyone is entitled to their own sense of what “safety” means. Many of us have negotiated this definition inside our minds and with others close to us -- at home and at work.

As we come back together, I’d like to be having these conversations, these negotiations, with authenticity, empathy, and with curiosity. As conscious people in community, I don’t see how we can do it any other way. Let me know what you think on Twitter @tellsue.

Sue Heilbronner

Sue Heilbronner is an executive coach, Conscious Leadership facilitator, and catalyst for change.

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