If there’s one hope I have for all of us when we look back on Coronavirus, it’s that we remember it as a time that helped us learn how to adapt and change.
I don’t think there’s ever been a time that, collectively, has created such a dramatic amount of change in such a short period of time.
Jobs have been lost or significantly changed. The responsibilities and stresses of parenting have increased a lot. And extraordinary measures are being enacted to protect our health. There isn’t one aspect of life that looks like what we’ve been used to.
But in difficult times like this — just as in any difficult time we’ve ever faced — we always have two options: we can rise to the challenge or we can hide from it.
We can find ways to innovate and adapt, or we can stay the same. We can use our challenges as a way to grow, or we can use them as an excuse to stay in the same place.
No matter how severe or intense the challenge, we always have that same choice.
This is of course true for our major challenges (and lord knows the Coronavirus has given us lots of those!), but it’s also true for our little challenges — those day-to-day things that call us to adapt to new ways of doing things.
In my life, I’ve had to do a lot of adapting in two main areas: home and work.
During “normal life,” I’m typically home 4 or 5 hours a day — and that’s when I’m not traveling for work. Now that I’m home ALL day, every day, I’ve needed to pitch in more around the house. I’m cooking way more than I’ve ever cooked (turns out I make pretty good baked chicken, and tacos are a speciality, too), and I’m helping with laundry more than I usually would (which usually would be never…LOL).
I’m also on parenting duties more often as well, as my two kids, Jabri and Samiyah, tackle e-learning and just generally try to avoid getting on each others’ nerves.
At work, I’m adapting in new ways, too.
I’m having to stretch myself to communicate in different formats than I usually would, like embracing technology and showing my face on Zoom. I’ve never been a Zoom or Facetime person — I’m a private guy and much prefer to keep my face off camera — but now I’ve had to do it because it’s the only way I can see and connect with my team.
I heard in a podcast recently by four-star general Stanley McChrystal how important it is, from a leadership perspective, to connect with your team and look people in the eyes. That really resonated with me, and it’s why it’s important to me to push through my usual hesitancy about being on camera and do it anyways — sheerly because it’s important for the strength of my team.
So now, instead of having what would normally be a monthly or bi-monthly meeting, we’re meeting more frequently — pretty much every day. The meetings are shorter, but it’s important to have that time each day to connect with each other.
I’ve also been writing more, both as a way to do certain aspects of my job and also as a way to create connection with others.
I realized that in our normal working environment, people would pick up details about me and my life just based on anecdotal conversations, like when I’d say offhandedly that I had to leave work because it was my son’s birthday.
But without those opportunities to converse with my co-workers in-person, I’ve had to create those connections in other ways.
For me, that’s taken the form of writing a daily note to my team. Every day, I write them an informal email, including small details about my life. Those details might relate back to Coronavirus, or working remotely, or building morale during this challenging time, but overall, the goal is to share some information about myself and my family and provide a little glimpse into my life.
I want to help my team connect with me on a personal level in the way they would have a chance to do if we were all in the office together. I know that in order to do that, especially in these unusual times, you have to make a point of telling people things and reaching out, even if you’re normally a fairly private guy like me.
What about you? How have the changes to your normal daily life called you to adapt in new ways?
I think when we look back on this period of time, there will definitely be aspects of life that we’re so glad have returned to normal, but there will also be plenty of changes we’ve been forced to make that we’ll choose to continue doing because we’ve discovered there’s a better way
In the end, I suspect we’ll find that what many of these adaptations have truly done is changed us for the better.