Be Contagious | Leading Through the Crisis
April 29, 2020
By Bret Nicks, MD
A friend of mine has the coronavirus.
He does not recall where he may have been exposed. While he works in a medical setting, every precaution was taken from the time (and perhaps a little before) it became a common mandate. Could it have been in the community? Quite possibly – whether the store, gas station, or passing through a restaurant before social distancing and additional community restrictions were enacted.
At this point, it really matters not. He has COVID-19. He is contagious.
As you might expect, he has been advised to isolate himself from family and friends. To remaining quarantined. To isolate himself from others for fear of further spread. At the same time to wonder what direction his course will take.
Quarantine (def): a state, period, or place of isolation in which people or animals that have been exposed to infectious or contagious diseases are placed.
So much focus remains on the prevention of spreading something that is unseen, yet contagious – the coronavirus. Based on what has been seen elsewhere, what is here now and what is presumed to follow.
We are enacting and enforcing habits that prevent the spread of something that causes further illness, harm and in some cases death. Most will agree, it seems the right thing to do, given the limited data and based on fears with the current global pandemic.
So what if you are the one? The one with #Covid19? The one in quarantine? Perhaps paralyzed by uncertainty, driven by fear and isolation. The value of quarantining oneself is a bit of a bitter pill on top of having the illness. However, the benefit to minimizing the risk of others is equally as profound.
As a medical specialist, my friend understands he is virally contagious. He embraces the value of quarantining himself from others to reduce the spread of disease. However, he also knows something greater – the value of being positively contagious despite circumstances.
You can hear it in his voice, see it in his smile, and feel it through his actions. In the absence of being able to work clinically, he leads enthusiastically several teams that are working to modify the work being done – to embrace the new normal.
He has established daily touchpoints not just around the clinical needs related to the pandemic, but to be a light of encouragement for teams feeling the weight of daily pressures; to build hope to supersede fear; to create optimism in the eye of the storm of pervasive pessimism.
Is he contagious? Absolutely. His positive perspective and endless optimism, wrapped in an embracing blanket of comfort and belief for his team are incredibly contagious. He sees through the storm to what is yet possible. Research supports this notion that we all know to be true – actions and emotions are infectious. Emotional contagions impact our work environments, productivity, teamwork, resiliency, service, and performance in significant and profound ways.
All leaders are contagious. So what type of contagion do you bring? Do you create a positive environment just by being present? Can you speak light into the darkness of uncertainty? Do you exude optimism, encourage daily gratitude, and celebrate small wins despite the chaos? In critically challenging times, this is essential to lead well.
So as a leader in your family, on your team, or in your organization, one question remains… Are you positively contagious?
Of course, everything is a bit on hold right now. So far I’ve only seen an official count of two cases of the coronavirus documented here, and so we’re several weeks behind most of you. The country has had a bit of a different approach to the virus.
According to the New York Times, New York State has roughly 5 percent of coronavirus cases worldwide, and New York City, a disease epicenter, has over 25 percent of all COVID-19 patients in the U.S.
I’m working the respiratory screening clinic at our critical access hospital/clinic. Personally, this medical crisis has actually acutely resolved my feeling of burnout.
For years and years the media has tended to sensationalize every little thing, which is making it very hard to hear the voices that are sounding a REAL alarm. We doctors don’t tend to be alarmist.