The Age of Compartmentalization is Finished


Our world has cracks, deep fault lines that have existed for years in the structures that have laid the foundation for our current situation. Whether it’s a division between class or race, or the weakness of our economy, or the simple inhumanity and unsustainability of our current models, the pandemic is like a great low tide, exposing the ocean floor of our society.


Now, as people and businesses are thrust to the lower levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, struggling to cope with the shutdown and rising tide of inequality, I’m seeing articles and thought pieces popping up everywhere on mental and emotional health, on government support, on the cruelty of our neighbors to the south and on every issue in between. “What do we do now?” is the central question on our collective mind.


For me, the central question is easily answered, if not easily actioned. It’s clear.


The age of compartmentalization is finished.


For too long, the dominant paradigm has been operating on separation – separating the personal from the professional, money insulating privileged individuals from discomfort and death, the belief that those who serve our meals, deliver our goods and bag our groceries are somehow less than us, the distance between a business’s actual strength vs. its inability to survive a shutdown of less than a month – all of it is based on separation. The delusion has been shattered by a small, virulent organism. The tiniest particle has tumbled the mightiest of structures and the conversation on what should survive has centered itself in our daily discourse.


“What do we do now?”


It’s time to embrace totality.


In order to survive and thrive, we must now embrace and celebrate and derive our structures from the complete human experience, to add compassion to the mix and adjust our lenses to take a new look at performance. We cannot continue to separate the personal from the professional and cannot continue to dodge the hard work required to integrate our full selves into our larger societal lives. It’s time for radical personal responsibility. It’s time for change.


What does this look like and what can you do?


  1. Integrate yourself – do the inner work required to become self-aware, to look unflinchingly at the good, the bad and the ugly of yourself and seek to understand the beliefs and thoughts that drive you. Be willing to be vulnerable to a closer look. Stop dodging your responsibility to become a fully expressed, fully mature person to the best of your ability.


  1. Challenge yourself – are your thoughts and beliefs about yourself and the world true? Be willing to be wrong. Be willing to seek outside perspectives. Be willing to change your mind.


  1. Accept and embrace your humanity and use it to create a better system – whether that’s allowing yourself to feel the deep despair and grief around the loss of the world as we knew it, or bringing your senior leadership together to re-examine your key performance indicators moving forward. Use your compassion, humanity and kindness and not just your drive for profit at any cost.


From the big systemic things like equal wealth distribution, to the small daily things like checking in with your team’s emotional state before a meeting, all solutions point to embracing our collective humanity. The most effective leaders today in the world see it clearly, act on it clearly and elevate us all.


Embrace your humanity. Embrace totality.


Without it, we’re lost.