I had an interesting conversation the other morning. My friend was talking with a colleague who works at the VP level in a large tech firm. In the conversation they were sharing their experiences of sheltering in place and working from home. The exec said, “I don’t know if I can go back to work.” He said that he and his family are thriving being at home and that the experience has been so good that he doesn’t want to go back to the long commute and long hours. His work habits were so ingrained, that he hadn’t questioned what he was missing. The pandemic has given him an experience of being with his family that he does not want to give up.
Another story comes from a global traveler who works for a large international consulting firm. He isn’t missing the long international flights and heavy travel schedule. His firm is learning that there may be a new way of doing their work. They have shifted all their training to online and do not expect they will go back to the intense travel for face to face training.
The pandemic is helping us experience a different way of working and accelerating new practices that we used to think were unquestionable. On April 15th, we held a call titled Leading through Disruption: A Lving Systems Path to Rapid Adaptation. We held break out conversations in small groups focused on what we were letting go of to adapt going forward. Last week I shared three patterns on Letting Go for Nature’s Sake. This week I will share more patterns from the breakout session conversations focused on how we are adapting and what we are learning.
Adapting to Healthier New Ways for All
For some, the pandemic, work from home and shelter in place have helped us see and experience the world differently. Here are some thoughts that reflect the different ways we are experiencing increased ability to thrive.
- Forget about going back to old ways. People on the call, like the exec in the story above, are experiencing something different that is causing them to not want to go back to the old routine.
- Polish our patience as practiced during sheltering in place. The high-speed world of work filled with routinized pressure to act with a bias toward habitual activity is being replaced with spaces where we need to practice patience.
- We are experiencing increased compassion for the entire world. We are all sharing an experience across the world. And while our news media tends to amplify the conflicts and tensions, many are experiencing an increased sense of connection and service to humanity that includes more compassion.
- How we approach and think about fear. Nelson Mandela said, “Courage isn’t the absence of fear but the triumph over it.” The reactive quality that fear brings to our actions is diminishing and while fear may still be experienced, it doesn’t have the power to stop our thinking or actions in the same way it did before.
- We are letting new patterns emerge in our relationships that are healthier and help us thrive.
Listen Deeply to Nature
There have been stories of seeing more wildlife, hearing bird songs and breathing fresher air. In my neighborhood ducks can be seen walking down the road that has much less traffic than normal. It invites us to see another possibility of having nature around us. These experiences are calling us to:
- Visualize a better world.
- Imagine what is possible.
- Embrace a better/stronger sense of well-being.
- Create a whole new system that is more regenerative, respectful to nature and reflects a living (not an objectified) system.
Invest in Flexibility, Change, and Uncertainty
Finally, we are practicing flexibility as our work routines are interrupted with kids and gaining experience in the level of change and uncertainty that surrounds us. This time is also giving us:
- More strategic think time.
- An opportunity to be fully present to a current project/problem.
- An opportunity to go deeper and transform data and information into knowledge and wisdom.
- An opportunity to pause and reflect on what are your choices vs. other people’s choices. It allows us to release ourselves from choices we don’t want.
- An awareness that collaboration is essential in an interdependent world. And the pandemic is helping us see how interdependent our world is.
I know that everyone is not experiencing this pandemic in the way the people on our call seemed to be. But these themes do reflect the possibilities that adapting to the challenge that is confronting us could bring us going forward.
We are holding a new call on May 20, 2020 that will focus on new patterns and possibilities. I hope you will join us. Here is the link to register.