Some of my fondest moments as a boy scout leader were sitting around a warm fire and camping beneath the stars under a canopy of trees. I’d watch the trees sway back and forth in the breeze and feel peace, rooted in my sense of self and vision for my future as much as those trees were rooted into the dirt beneath me.
It’s what many of us are missing these days, especially as pandemic fatigue sets in, making it difficult for us to see the forest through the trees. We’ve been immersed in all things COVID-19 for about a year now, bombarded by news of more outbreaks, virus variants, vaccines, and the knowledge that the end may still be a ways off. The mask wearing, social distancing and all these other long-term behavioral choices, all the while, may be becoming increasingly difficult for some to sustain.
There are two things necessary for us to see the light filtering through those metaphorical trees: hope and grace. We have hope the vaccines available to us and our commitment to virus prevention activities will stop COVID-19 in its path as we seek a return to normalcy. And, we hold onto grace knowing that just as no two people are alike, no two people are handling this crisis alike, either.
As the pandemic wears on, it’s essential we practice grace not just in our own lives, but in others’ as well. We celebrate Valentine’s Day this month – a perfect time to reflect on the grace and love we can extend to others, even from afar or virtually as needed.
As a safety-focused, infrastructure-heavy and technical-based utility, NPPD has several priorities we must maintain to ensure our customers are never without electricity. I simply cannot imagine what the pandemic and political landscapes of the last year would have looked like if we hadn’t been able to continue to provide Nebraskans with reliable, low-cost, sustainable and resilient electricity during such a time of need.
All the while, our teammates have shared many of your same, everyday struggles. They’ve adjusted to new ways of working and communicating. They’ve home schooled their children and dealt with the same grief that social isolation and separation from family members or friends may cause. Yet, at the heart of the District, in alignment with our priorities to serve our customers and improve their quality of lives, is our teammates’ steadfast dedication to others when it comes to building community and inclusion, and lifting one another up.
The past year, teammates have accomplished some incredible things. They have maintained electric service with safety, integrity and a focus on excellence even with the additional challenges of the pandemic. They have accomplished significant work at our power plants and continue to find improvement opportunities that strengthen NPPD and allow us to bring even more value to our customers.
We may not have a clear-cut vision of a post-pandemic future. It can be easy to feel stressed or stretched beyond capacity if we let pandemic fatigue sink in. In these moments, hope and grace can seem like an endless pursuit, and doubt can mar our thoughts. As an organization, NPPD navigates successfully through these same sentiments by staying true to what makes us strong: a laser focus on our mission and vision, and a pledge to lean on and look out for one another.
There are so many big-picture goals to look forward to this year as we explore innovative, sustainable ways to generate electricity, improve the way we work and establish more deeply rooted connections with our customers and the communities we serve.
If there’s one thing I know without a shadow of the doubt, it’s that we have fantastic people here, and our customers are in capable hands. For that reason, I am confident 2021 is going to be another great year at NPPD, pandemic or not.
Don’t let yourself be lost in a forest of uncertainty and fear. I wish you all the opportunity to experience the excitement and peace of a brighter future ahead.