Am I non-essential?

The pandemic era has brought along a new classification: the essential worker.

It’s nice to be deemed essential, isn’t it? It feels good when you’re invited to step up and contribute. And we puff out our chests even more when others are asked to stand back to allow us through.

But what are we to make of the fact that most professionals are deemed to be non-essential by the administrators of pandemic management?

Are we not as important as we previously thought? Were our notions of grandeur based on a different set of values? Have we suffered some ego damage?

Pre-Covid, the concept of value was dominant: how much value can we create, where do we add value etc. For many, this is still the most useful compass by which to guide our professional contributions. Others might focus on status, prestige or just money.

In coaching sessions, I’ve noticed a growing trend of questioning of commitment to present roles, even to specific professions. Aside from the massive disruption to routines and established behaviours and practices, the pandemic has also shaken up prevalent beliefs. What was previously unthinkable is now deemed to be inevitable.

So, our contracts with the working world are open to re-negotiation. Should we be guided by the classification of essential, or maybe how best we can add value? What compass, or set of values, should guide our course now?

There’s no uniformly right answer here. The only thing that’s universally true is that it’s in your interest to gain clarity on what’s important for you now.


This post was adapted from one of Aodan’s Sunday morning newsletters, eagerly anticipated by hundreds of readers. Give yourself the gift of that weekly wisdom by signing up here.

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