Gratitude, uncertainty, and leftovers

Gratitude, uncertainty, and leftovers

Doing what you can with the tools you’ve got

I saw this sign a few days ago. Here’s how I read it:

Scrap wood + leftover paint +
a basic human impulse to connect =

A heart-felt and cheerful message of gratitude.

These days, I’m really appreciating the small efforts that people are making to be kind. To connect. To shore each other up. Maybe it’s one-of-a-kind yard sign. Or a light-hearted drawing that comes in the mail. An out-of-the-blue call from a lost-touch-ages-ago friend. Or kicking off a virtual team meeting with an icebreaker that makes room for people to acknowledge how they’re really doing.

In another time, we might’ve judged those things as not-enough. Or not-readyToo-risky. Maybe we don’t have the colors we want for the sign, or we’re afraid that the drawing is dorky. We decide that a long-ago friend might not want to reconnect. Or we believe that being ‘professional’ doesn’t fit with being vulnerable. We fear that the conversation would be too awkward, or go off the rails.*

There’s something clarifying about a crisis, though. Right now, there are so many examples of people overcoming perceived obstacles, and making small gestures (along with tremendous coordinated efforts; see resources below for a couple of inspiring examples). It’s true that we can’t control the outcome, but we can give shape to how we show up.

In the midst of all that’s uncertain, scary, and beyond our control, it’s heartening to see these small acts of love, kindness, and connection.

Is it enough? NOPE.**

Is it important? YES. It reminds us of our inherent interdependence. It connects us to the generosity, creativity, and resourcefulness that we’ll need to navigate this collective upheaval together.

Thanks for all the ways that you’re showing up. Wishing you patience, quality sleep, and courage, and hoping that you’re finding inspiration in small acts of goodness near and far.

Some other useful resources + creative offerings:

Some of these are specific to a certain region (and might only be useful as a model for how your community could weave itself together during the challenges ahead). Obviously, this isn’t comprehensive, just a handful of examples of people rallying together, pooling their energy, creativity, and knowledge to pitch in during this challenging time.

  • Lizzo, performing A Change is Gonna Come. If you do one thing for yourself today, maybe it’s this.
  • Local media highlighting other local mediaThe Evergrey, a daily newsletter all about Seattle, shared a great interview with Tony Benton, founder of Rainier Avenue Radio, which is dedicated to amplifying diverse voices in South Seattle, about how they’ve been responding in the era of COVID. “With the coronavirus, it was very easy for us to switch (to more news programming) because we already had the connections in the community. It was easy for us to start broadcasting public service announcements in 10 different languages, because we already had those connections.”
  • Immigrant and refugee women artisans respond to COVID-19 crisis by making masks and ramping up production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The Refugee Artisan Network’s mission is to transform the lives of refugee and immigrant women by providing sustainable work in sewing and handcrafting goods. To help address the urgent demand for more protective gear for the public, RAI and their artisans have teamed up with medical professionals and clinics to design and produce, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks, gowns and other protective gear to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection. If you need masks for personal use, you can buy them here. If you want to contribute to RAI’s efforts to ramp up production of PPE, you can donate here. And if you want to learn about the artisans who are doing the work, you can read about them here.
  • John Krasinski’s Some Good News Episode 4: Prom Edition. A little something for just about everybody featuring Chance the Rapper, Billie Eilish, and NASA astronauts, and prom-from-home parties.
  • Game of Bones. For those missing sporting events: Scottish sports broadcaster Andrew Cotter reports on a high-stakes match of canine strategy and skill. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, much closer to home.
Please stay in touch:
  • I’d love to see you at any/all of the virtual gatherings that strike your fancy. (And if you have ideas for other topics/formats/etc, please let me know.)
  • If you’d like a sounding board for whatever leadership challenges you’re navigating, please reach out and let me know what’s on your mind.

Big thanks, more soon, and take care of yourself and each other.


* I’m not suggesting that we remove all professional boundaries, but that article is for another day.

** This is another whole article, too. In the meantime, a few thoughts: We need human connection AND institutions / systems / cultures that support human thriving. Like a more equitable health-care system. A definition of a thriving economy that includes food security for all children. Wide-spread testing for this virus. Just to name a few.


Sara Lawson is a consultant, coach, facilitator, and the creator of Gauge Leadership Lab (Bellingham Series starts October 9th, 2020; London series starts Oct 20, 2020; Seattle series starts on March 5, 2021). She is passionate about the role that mission-inspired companies and organizations have in strengthening communities. She also knows that leadership can be fulfilling AND frustrating, even for dedicated, skilled, and creative people. You can reach Sara HERE.

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