Feb 24, 2022

by David Fouche

I woke up this morning at 6 am to the news of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

At 8:30 am I was at my desk in a virtual meeting with our software development team for a project I’m working on. Like everybody else in the world, they work remotely (from home).

But this team is a bit different. They are all in Ukraine.

The meeting was surreal. They all had their webcams on so I could see them and talk to them (with no delay whatsoever). They shared their screens; I shared mine. We discussed the work that needed to be done, while I kept a news website up to date on another screen and monitored the ongoing war. I truly expected to see a mortar come crashing through one of their homes while we spoke. This lasted a full hour and a half.

I was a bit of a nervous wreck. Yet these people were calm and professional, and we got the work done. I almost cried several times, but I had to keep it together – for them.

In a similar meeting a week ago with this same team, those of us in the US and Canada had all expressed our concerns. Their response? “Ah, we’ve been here before—this is nothing new. Russia is always threatening.”

But this morning, it was no longer a threat; it was real. And yet, they carried on. They didn’t cancel the meeting. They didn’t run and pack. They didn’t stay glued to the news.

But you know their fear was real and deep.

Any writer could use this moment to pretend to have some deep insight (consider the daily fodder on LinkedIn). Things like, “We must all count our blessings.” Or, “We really take so much for granted.” Or, “We should take time to appreciate the freedoms we have.”

But I have no deep insight here. Because this is unprecedented; I have no point of reference. We in the US have not experienced this kind of fear since the 1770s; imagine a global power deciding one day to rain bombs and missiles on your home, quite literally.

What I do know is that while I wanted to help and encourage my colleagues in this morning’s meeting—and I did—their resolve, their bravery, their unflinching and calm attitudes as we continued to do business were unprecedented and unimaginable inspiration to me.

These people, my colleagues, are my new heroes.