What motivated first responders during 9/11 to run into burning buildings? What motivates doctors and nurses to put their own lives at risk in response to the COVID-19 crisis? What motivates an employee to go to work every day?

It may seem ridiculous at first glance to put these questions side by side considering the potential ramifications for first responders and healthcare workers, but is it really? As human beings we all want to know that we matter, that we make a difference, that we will be remembered when we are gone. We are creatures driven by passion. So, the better question may be what is your passion, what makes you want to get up in the morning and go to work?  

During times of crisis your brain perceives threats and it is much more difficult to make good decisions. It is also very easy to become overwhelmed when focused on all of the unknowns. However, if you allow your actions to be driven by your values, you will not just survive but thrive, even during a time of crisis.  

Most of us would like to say that we know what our values are, but it takes some careful consideration to really examine what values you want to live by. Subsequently, if you say you have a core value, are you actually making important decisions based on that core value as a measuring stick for success or do you allow deadlines to drive your decision-making instead? There are no right or wrong values, there are only values. If you can clearly define what you stand for, you can work toward a goal.  

Let’s examine for example what Millennials seem to value. Most Millennials seek work-life balance. They value the ability to work remotely and have a flexible work schedule and they are actually quite effective working in this fashion. They want work that offers meaning and purpose and they want to make a positive impact on society. They want to have a trusting and supportive working relationship with their supervisor and believe that their supervisor is interested in them both as a person and a professional. They want to be empowered with real responsibilities.

Similarly, Gen Z’ers, those born between 1995 and the mid-2000s, also value flexible work schedules. They seek out companies that have values and a mission that resonates with their own and can provide growth in their careers along with health and wellness programs.   

So, what do you value? How can you operationalize those values in your personal life? Focus on what matters. That certainly does not mean everything will be rosy, but it will give you the energy you need to stay on task, even during the difficult times. Especially during the difficult times. This time will be chronicled in history books, so what do you want to be remembered for? What values did you stand for during this time of crisis?