Start where you are.
Use what you have.
Do what you can.
Each year seems to bring a new crisis to the work of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion, and each month seems to find a new way to bring that crisis to the forefront of our imaginations and emotions. Supreme Court decisions. Political disruptions. Civil unrest. Activist investors. Etc. Etc. Etc.
Over the past few years, I’ve heard from and coached dozens of professionals on how frustrated and exhausted they are working in this field. One Chief Diversity Officer of a large corporation even joked with me about how she didn’t even use the word crisis anymore because crisis was just the new normal.
After the Supreme Court decision a few weeks ago, my team and I fielded multiple calls from people who were worried about what the decision meant for this work in the future. “What do we do now?” was a question I have heard frequently on almost every client call I’ve had recently.
What do we do now? After almost 25 years of doing this work, my answer has not really changed. We do the work that is required of us today. We don’t try and predict what tomorrow will bring or what it will require of us because the probability of us being accurate in our predictions is extremely slim. But we know what needs to be done today, and as Arthur Ashe so eloquently advised, we start each day with where we are that day and we do what we can that day with what we have. That’s it.
The simplicity of this approach is not a degradation of the gravity or urgency of the work that needs to get done. It is simply an acknowledgment of the limits of what any of us can possibly do today. Moreover, it is a necessary survival strategy for staying in the fight.
I start each day asking myself what I can accomplish that day, and I find purpose in both the mundane and the meaningful work that I can do that day. I close each day grateful for the opportunity to do work that is personally important to me.
No matter how urgent the work is that we need to do, we cannot do work in the future. We can only work in today, and worrying about tomorrow’s problems takes away our ability to do our best today.
What is the work required of you today? Answering this question daily and working the answer is the only path forward regardless of the crises that may or may not come tomorrow.
What do we do now?
We do the work that is required of us today.