April 17, 2020

Contributing to the Solution: A Note From Ari

by Ari Levy
The COVID situation and the related changes to our normal rhythm of life have prompted a lot of self-reflection over the past several weeks. When I first heard about COVID-19 I, like many others, thought that it would simply “blow over.” But, when I learned more about the rapid pace of transmission and its virulence, I found myself moving quickly from one role to another—father, physician, husband, business leader, friend—back and forth and around and around, seeking to protect and provide comfort to all of those about whom I care so deeply. As the situation evolved and as I began to understand my responsibilities, confront challenges, and see opportunities, a path forward came into view.
Still, even after having established modified routines in my professional and personal worlds, I am finding that this situation is prompting a lot of thinking. I am asking myself several questions again and again:
  • What am I doing to take care of myself and my family?
  • What sources should I turn to for accurate information?
  • How do I stay socially connected to friends, family, colleagues, and my community?
  • Where am I finding and where can I find joy and comfort?
  • What do I have to offer and how can I use it to help others in this situation?
  • How can we come together and leverage our individual gifts, strengths, and resources in a combined effort?

Bit by bit, I believe I am coming to some conclusions for myself, but one answer in particular seemed particularly true and was reinforced for me when a colleague of mine happened to remind me in passing that the word “pandemic” comes from the simple compounding of two Greek words pan- “all” and dē­mos “people.” Yes, COVID, perhaps more than anything else in history, or at least modern history, is a scourge that has affected ‘all people.’ But, at the same time, I thought to myself that what makes ‘all people’ special—beyond our shared humanity—is the remarkable truth that each of us is unique. In my experience of coming to know so many people so well, I am still perpetually struck by how different we all are in our thoughts, behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, histories, talents, and abilities despite the fact that so many of us share so many things in common with others.

This is what is at the heart of SHIFT. We seek to treat Members as unique individuals and seek to understand them for who they were, who they are, and who they wish to become.

Following that line of thinking, I reflected on the COVID pandemic and our response in a different way.

We all have skills: whether it be cooking, organizing, writing, analyzing, sewing, teaching, inspiring, motivating or even just listening. We can all help others in our lives and those we do not know in some way. For me, helping those on the front lines seems especially important at this time. No matter who receives the help each of us can offer, whether in big ways or in small, we serve ‘all people’ by doing what we are uniquely suited to do. For some it may mean ideating and bringing different groups together to solve some of the problems being brought up by COVID; for others, it may be providing free resources to help those in need. Regardless of what you bring to the table, contribution is the key. I believe that it is important that we all take some time to think deeper about our gifts and how we can contribute to the now less nebulous and very real ‘greater good.’ There is a lot of noise in the world right now. What I ask myself to do and you to do is to focus on what you can control, what you can do for others, and how you can come out of this a stronger, better you as a very special part of ‘all people.’

We aren’t sure how long this will last or what its effects will be, but we do know that we are in it as individuals bound together.

Stay safe and healthy,

Dr. Ari Levy

We would love to hear your stories about how you are making your special contribution to the world during this crisis and we would love to hear from those of you looking to help. #covidcourage

Professor and New York Times bestselling author, Brené Brown, discusses over and under-functioning in anxious times, why anxiety is contagious, and how we can cultivate a calm practice in this episode of her new podcast.

Brene Brown



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