The coronavirus pandemic is testing us in a way that we have not been for generations. As hard as we try to feel contended at being safe and healthy, let’s face it, the social distancing (read ‘isolation’) is difficult. We miss not being able to head to our favorite coffee spot, enjoy a night at the movies, or celebrate the birthday of a friend in-person (none of those virtual celebrations!). But more than that, not knowing when this crisis will end, has been very stressful.
In times like this, we all must find ways to relax, unwind, and appreciate the beauty around us. For me, one of the delights of life is watching a garden in full bloom. Tending to a garden is a chance to commune with nature and be rewarded by the beautiful sights, she bestows, especially around this time of the year Imagine an office space without the lush landscape that surrounds it – how welcoming would that area seem then? The greenery outside the office window can give you a feeling of serenity when you need that moment’s break from work. Of course, a beautiful exterior is essential for impressing clients walking into the premises.
As the owner of PracticeForces (a healthcare solutions company in Florida), when we moved to a new office location a few years back, I ensured there was adequate space for landscaping. With an area of 25000 to 30000 feet, a great deal of money was invested in creating the garden, which included trees, large container plants, a sprawling lawn, shrubs, and spectacularly colored flower beds. With an automatic sprinkler system in place, I hired a landscaping company for the upkeep.
All was going well until a few weeks back. When the coronavirus situation exploded, like millions of businesses across the country, my company was impacted. My team and I were on the phone constantly, speaking to clients, and trying to work out alternate strategies. In the days that followed, we prepared to move most of the staff to work from home.
The plants looked as down as we felt when the pandemic crisis unfolded.
As all this was happening, I could not help but notice that the plants outside the office looked droopy and the grass withered. My secretary informed me that the landscaper had not been coming in for a while. So I called him to come and have a look. He told me that the automatic water sprinkler system (linked to a water well) was not working; there appeared to be an electrical fault. So we tried to locate a licensed electrician. To my surprise, I was quoted almost $1000 for the five-minute repair job. Sadly, the coronavirus situation has given some people the license for exploitation. We contacted other handymen, plumbers, and technicians around the neighborhood who could help in fixing the sprinkler system for us. Nobody showed up except that one man who quoted a high price for the job.
Not willing to pay a ridiculous amount of money, I thought we should use water hoses. But we did not have a tap system outside, so we contacted a plumber. The plumbing guy, like the electrician, quoted an unusually high amount for the job. Realizing that we had no option, I told the plumber to go ahead. Once the tap water system was installed, I bought hoses from the nearest Home Depot, and with the help of an employee, started to water the office landscape. I continued to water the plants over the next few days as well. What amazed me was the rapid transformation of the flower beds and plants around the office; it was as if they were resuscitated back to life.
My decision to take time out to focus on the office landscape was well worth it. When I started watering the plants the first time, my employees looked on bemused – what was their CEO doing watering plants? Even my wife, Parul, who works in the company, was questioning my judgment. In her opinion, we had more pressing matters to attend. As a business leader, the incident was a reminder, even though people around may not agree with me, sometimes I must do what instinctively feels right. Though most of the staff are now working from home, when they do return, I want them to come back to an office surrounding that was just as they left it.
With the disheartening news of more people in the U.S. and India contracting the virus, tending to the landscape was therapeutic. Seeing the plants and flower beds spring back filled me with a sense of optimism. I do hope that everyone inflicted by the coronavirus receives the medical help they need and that they too can bounce back just like the flower beds in my office. I salute the scores of people (doctors, nurses, sanitation staff, law and order forces, pharmacists, and even restaurant owners that have taken it upon themselves to feed the medical community), putting their life on the line every day.
We are all impacted by this global pandemic. Even in these difficult times, let’s remain calm and constructive. Whether it’s engaging with our kids like never before, finding creative ways to serve our customers, trying a new hobby, reading the books that have been on our shelf way too long, or tending to the garden in our home, let’s all spring back to life.
Let’s enjoy the moments we have, celebrate the little successes, and stay ‘evergreen’ in our horizon for the future.
Made in India, Serving Humanity, Living in Safety Harbor Florida, USA. Healthcare Entrepreneur. Author ”A Philanthropist Without Money” Driven by an inherent desire for knowledge and creative thinking, I harnessed my “Mid Life” energies to becoming a student again, challenging myself to take an executive course in ‘Global Healthcare Innovation’ from Harvard Business School and a Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship from the University of South Florida. Not satisfied with personal success alone, now I’m on a mission to help other aspiring entrepreneurs through mentoring, nurturing, raising funding, and connecting people with more possibilities.