Over this past month and a half, hundreds of you have reached out to me to share your stories, your hopes, your dreams, and at times your heartache. Many of those emails include videos and pictures of you and your teams carrying out the DHS mission. It’s almost like being right there with you. I’ve seen our most northern border post in Alaska, as well as one of your border patrol vehicles framed by the aurora borealis, and a moose foraging in the snow outside of one of your buildings; your adorable grandchild and husband holding a sign wishing you a safe return as you carry out your mission; your home office that would be the envy of many (well, me for sure, since I’m working from a barstool at my kitchen counter); a walk-about by you with your team, while you are doing all that you can to keep your field operation team’s spirits high; your cute cats keeping an eye on you as you work; and even a slide show from your backyard you share with your team every week. The first time you shared it, you said the slide show was about the birds and the bees and I thought…should I open it?!? And sure enough it really was birds and bees and flowers and filled with humor and goodwill.
And, wow, over 38,000 of you have already responded to the short survey I sent you last week, with more than 18,000 of you providing written comments. The survey ends tomorrow at midnight and takes around 3 minutes to complete. Here’s what you’ve shared so far: Your main worry remains whether you or a loved will be affected by COVID-19; the vast majority of you are following guidance from the CDC and your local/state government. And, over half of you are finding it somewhat difficult to concentrate on work and to take care of your responsibilities at home.
There are times I must admit that I can feel your pain as you write to me about the difficulties you are facing, and often it is what you don’t say that comes through as well. Sometimes you are wondering if you are doing enough to keep your teams safe; if you’re providing the right information on time; if you’ve said the right, comforting things when one of your colleagues has passed away; if you are asking the right questions to ensure your child is doing well…basically, what we are sometimes really wondering is “am I enough?” And, I know from time to time, no matter how strong any of us believe we are, that little question pops into our heads more than it should.
The truth is we’re human. We all have moments of doubt and uncertainty. Learning to open the door to trust yourself, to go within and trust your intuition, and to face the unknown is when you will find that no matter what happens today, there is always an opportunity for something better tomorrow. If all you have time to do is serve chicken nuggets with no vegetables for the fifth day in a row, but you did so while helping your child read a book—trust yourself—it is enough. If you made calls to half your folks today to check in on them—trust yourself—it is enough. If your laundry is stacked up because you are changing clothes more often to stop the spread of the virus—trust yourself—it is enough. If your mind is on your loved ones while you are performing your job—trust yourself—it is enough. Real trust, the reliable, down to your toes kind of trust, does not come from something or someone outside of you. Real, authentic trust comes from within you—it’s your power, it’s your life. Open the door to trusting yourself and you will find the deepest, most essential you.
I’ve mentioned before about the daily practice of being grateful and just last week mentioned how to ask your heart your most troubling question. This week, take the time to think about and write down what you are grateful for about you. You may be grateful that you learned a new skill, or that you were able to pay attention during the last conference call, or that you didn’t burn those chicken nuggets, or that you were able to keep it together despite how scared you really were while rescuing that little boy. It doesn’t have to be anything big, sometimes just recognizing the qualities in yourself that make you uniquely you are enough to begin to trust yourself and help you realize—you are enough.
But know that “you are enough” does not mean you are alone. Your friends, family, colleagues, and the EAP are available to support you. If you are experiencing domestic violence, call 800-799-7233. If you need help with suicidal thoughts, call 800-273-8255 any time. Do not hesitate to find support.
I sometimes wonder, would I have had the honor and pleasure of connecting with so many of you, if it would not have been for COVID-19? And the answer is that despite all that is difficult about what we are facing right now, your emails, pictures, videos, survey responses, and comments, assure me that there is a lot of good going on as well. Making a connection with you is important, and one I will cherish for many years to come.
Chief Human Capital Officer