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How do I keep my team engaged when the world is on fire?

Source | | Liz Elting

This year was supposed to be better than 2020, and yet, not a week into 2021, the other shoe—the one we all knew was coming, the one we all had been warily waiting for—finally dropped. Amid a pandemic that continues to burn through the United States and, by degrees, the rest of the world, a violent insurrection shook the nation’s capital city, the first breaching of the halls of Congress since 1814. Since then, the US president was impeached a second time, and the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden threatened to become another flash point, prompting the closure of the National Mall.

The inauguration, thankfully, drew no violence. But the first three weeks of January for the public at large created a distraction on a scale the US hadn’t seen since Sept. 11, 2001. And yet, even with that experience, this felt new and uniquely terrifying. The threat in 2001 wasn’t coming from our fellow countrymen, and we weren’t a year into a pandemic that has obliterated all sense of normalcy. This—this is different.

The rapid drumbeat of epochal news is overwhelming; we’ve spent almost a year now masking up and working from home—if we’re lucky enough not to work as grocery clerks (who put themselves at risk every single day) or wait staff (who are lucky if they have jobs right now)—as we’ve watched neighbors and colleagues and family members fall ill, or lose jobs, or get radicalized. How on Earth is anyone supposed to stay motivated and productive when every day seems to bring some new nightmare?

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