Here are some of the hard-won insights that stemmed from his convalescence:
1) You’re Not as Ready to Die as You Think
A lot of people, particularly those that have had some success in life, think that they’re not scared of dying. However, you won’t know this for a fact until death is staring you right in the face.
The team at SearchWorks was directly affected by the pandemic, with some employees coming close to death and others having COVID-related deaths in their families or among their friends. In Pampanga, where SearchWorks is based, some of the COVID waves were particularly grim due to the lack of vaccines at the time, with many people dying before they even made it to hospitals.
This is all to say that a lot of people had to confront the prospect of imminent death during the pandemic. What many of us learned is, no matter how many achievements you’ve had or how financially secure you are, you won’t know how you’ll react to your own mortality until it’s staring you in the face.
2) The World Will Go On Without You
My long absence proved one thing to me: It doesn’t matter who you are, people will find a way to get on with life without you. Fortunately, SearchWorks is full of capable and highly-adaptable people who are fully capable of carrying on the business. It is now at the point where it is no longer reliant on any single person to keep the ship afloat.
But even if it wasn’t, there is no doubt people will not find a way to adapt, overcome, and move on. With or without you.
3) A Successful Business is the Best Insurance Policy
While owning your own business entails much more risk than being a 9-5 employee, success offers you the possibility of continued income, even if you are no longer physically capable of putting in the work. This is almost certainly not the case with the vast majority of retirement packages where what you get in return is only as good as the work you’re able to put in.
If a regular employee was gone for a month like I was, chances are their company may consider declaring them unfit to work. The reality is, even if you had a great work insurance policy, very few businesses would be willing to keep you if you had a very serious health condition. It’s even more difficult for freelancers, as their income is usually tied directly to their work output.
These issues are nonexistent if you manage to build a business that is successful and adaptable enough to run without you. As a business owner, my income remained the same throughout my recovery even though I wasn’t working and there was never any threat of it going away. This simply isn’t the case for most employees and freelancers.
4) The Government’s Pandemic Response Wasn’t Perfect But It Wasn’t All Bad Either
With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that news of government incompetence, while not unwarranted in many cases, was largely overblown. Admittedly, this was probably due to the unevenness of the responses by individual local government units.
On the whole, though, most people involved in the government’s pandemic response worked hard and had their intentions in the right place, with many LGUs managing to do remarkable things with limited resources. For many SearchWorks team members, for instance, the whole vaccination process at the Pasig City LGU only took 30 minutes. Another had her entire hospital bill of well over ₱200,000 completely covered by PhilHealth.
If you simply focused on all the bad stuff that happened during the pandemic response, it would hardly be fair to the healthcare workers, policymakers, and other people involved in different areas of the COVID pandemic response.
You’d also lose your mind. And if you let the negativity get to you, it will most probably affect both your physical health and your relationships.
So while you should remain critical of our policymakers and other government workers, it’s important to also give credit when it is due. You might be surprised at just how many good things are happening.
5) We Blow Our Money on a Lot of Stupid Things
The “work hard play hard” mentality sounds good but it’s a flawed one. If you know me, you know I collect shoes and gaming consoles. I didn’t even so much as look at them when I was sick. I realized that these things didn’t have lasting value for me, even if I do still enjoy them. They’re nowhere as important to me as my relationships with family, friends, and colleagues.
6) Filipino Frontliners Have Balls of Steel
Filipino healthcare workers – be they doctors, nurses, medical technicians, janitors, or what have you — all displayed immense courage during the pandemic.
Their courage is even more remarkable if you consider that, after their long, sometimes weeks-long shifts, they go home often not knowing if they will infect their own loved ones. This is all the more astonishing if you consider how little most of them are paid, especially when compared to the compensation received by their colleagues overseas.
Even more amazing is how consistent most of them are at delivering high-quality care for people they don’t even know personally. The level of empathy they have for others is at a level that is almost unknown anywhere else. For all these reasons and more, we should appreciate everything our healthcare workers have done and what they continue to do for us.
7) It’s Our Responsibility to Protect Each Other
Several employees became sick and the office was empty for weeks precisely because we were complacent and didn’t think it could happen to our team. While we knew COVID was dangerous, it was more of an abstract idea at the time. As a result, we weren’t as careful as we could be — and that is all on us.
However, this led to the realization that, COVID or not, we should not just look out for ourselves, but for each other. If you have the choice to make other people safe — do it.
8) Relationships With Family and Friends Matter the Most
It’s when you’re in a serious crisis that you will start to find out who has your back. When we were self-isolating, our friends and family members went above and beyond to help us with our needs. Whether it was attending to my children, getting oxygen tanks, or preparing our meals, it was the people we were closest to who came through.
Your career, personal life, and health are not isolated from global events or even pure chance. Hopefully, these personal lessons somehow resonated with you and help you in some way.
How did the pandemic affect your SEO career? How about your personal life? If you’d like to offer different lessons or perspectives, don’t hesitate to contact us to share your experiences.