I don’t know about you, but some days I’m finding it difficult to keep it all together. To stay positive, to not wish for a different time or different circumstances, and for my life to be the way it was before COVID-19. Some days, I find it hard to believe I feel this way, but I actually miss my commute, especially the challenge of running for the train, in the rain, in heels—it was always an exciting adventure! Maybe what I miss more is that the commute gave me time to focus on the day ahead and to unwind on the way home. It was a routine that I took for granted, that’s for sure. While that way of life is gone for now, I am hopeful that when it returns I will not curse the rain or the run to the train, and will instead rejoice in the fact that I’m able to do it again. (Someone may have to remind me!)
I certainly appreciate the fact that my challenges pale in comparison to what many of you are facing on a daily basis. But I do think it’s fair to recognize that wherever you stand within DHS, the struggles are real. Some of you share my struggles, and some of you do not. It’s all good…because no matter what, we’re in the larger struggle together. I was listening to a podcast the other day, and the speaker mentioned that there are three pandemics going on right now. The first one is the COVID-19 outbreak, the second is fear, and the third is that the world is coming together to address a common enemy. Wow…how true!
Your emails to me this week reinforced how you have joined with your colleagues and communities to fight this “enemy.” You have helped a visually challenged employee gain access to information needed to do her job; you’ve served two combat missions and are now bringing those leadership lessons to DHS; you donated your entire on-the-spot award to the CFC to help those less fortunate; you’ve shared motivational quotes from your favorite authors with your team; shared a picture of yourself with your children, with a sign that read “HOPE;” paid for groceries when a young girl’s credit card didn’t work; went home to Puerto Rico to help rebuild your community; reached out to a friend in Kenya because you knew he was struggling with depression; made face coverings for your local community; and stood on the street “clanging and banging” in support of your community’s first responders.
And you’ve done more than that… you’ve made sure that the US Coast Guard Class of 2020 will be able to complete its classes on time and on 20 May the Academy will graduate not only the largest class, but also, the largest class of female graduates ever in the history of the US Coast Guard! You protected federal buildings, ensured travel continued throughout our ports and border crossings, protected our infrastructure and networks, took down criminal elements, investigated PPE supply chains and testing capabilities, fought to get DHS a supplemental to support our operations and on-boarded new employees, as well as worked to figure out how to resume our training academies. Dare I say…damn the torpedoes, DHS still has it all going on! And no wonder, each day you show the Nation your dedication and talent.
The one thing that shines through with your notes is that you have an overwhelming desire to live your lives with passion and be excited about what you do every day, even in the tough times. It’s clear that sharing your talented gifts and caring within and outside the DHS family is how you are cultivating joy. I’ve often noticed that when you find what you are passionate about, it helps breathe life into everything that you touch. It’s important that we each find our calling, and we use that calling to lead to our passion. As C. JoyBell C. said, “That spark you felt ignite inside you, that split-second vision that you had of yourself bright like the Sun–believe that!” Yes, believe that. Honoring your calling and your life’s true purpose will indeed help you find happiness. Each of you has a special purpose in life. Find your unique talent and your unique way of expressing it. I assure you, there is a unique need waiting for your unique talent. Making that connection will make your heart sing and the time fly in an uplifting and positive way. A life lived with passion brings with it many benefits, including a brain that creates new pathways and stays sharp, a body that is fit, and relationships that are special.
Take time to embrace your passion, your hobbies, your families, and your loved ones. If you can, schedule a day of leave during this outbreak just to relax, connect with others, and focus on what helps you feel alive. If you are feeling stressed or need assistance, reach out to colleagues, your supervisor, or the Employee Assistance Program without hesitation. A life lived with passion is precious. If you are experiencing domestic violence, please call 800-799-7233. If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact 800-273-8255 right away.
While I can’t predict the future, I am highly confident that whatever train comes down the tracks, I’ll be ready for it…and so will you!
Chief Human Capital Officer