Some people are open and accepting of change. They are excited to rethink how they work, and embrace uncomfortable new life experiences. I am not one of these people. I like the little life groove I have created for myself. It works for me. I normally change only when there is a compelling reason.
For almost all of us, the pandemic has provided this reason. Control freaks like me are dismayed to learn that many of these uninvited changes are actually good for us. In fact, with the right attitude, there are some lessons that will improve the success of our work and quality of our life.
After reflecting on all the new stressful, technology centered, and innovative ways of working and living, a myriad of lessons have emerged. I would like to share four that seem universally beneficial. Now I don’t like this any more than you, but the following four lessons may form the basis of real (yes, I’ll say it) personal growth.
Whether you are now working remote, on site or some blend of each, we have seen that mindful and purposeful communication is more important than ever. Time tested principles such as seeking and confirming understanding, mastering our non-verbal behaviors, not avoiding tough conversations – and simply staying in touch with those who rely on you - were important before the pandemic. Today, these principles are absolutely essential. There are consequences when we neglect them. Remaining self-aware and intentional about how we collaborate, exchange information, and resolve differences in today’s ever shifting virtual-live mix may be the primary driver of both the quality of our work and health of our relationships.
Embrace Diversity of Beliefs
Last spring, I tried breaking the ice in meetings with my hilarious pandemic-related wit and watched otherwise composed colleagues come unglued in response to my insensitivity. In addition to religion and politics, we can add pandemic management to the topics we should avoid – unless you want things to get real. We are a diverse people, and there are few right or wrong absolutes. Thus, we should respect and perhaps even learn from people who have a perspective divergent from ours. If we can’t do that, we should at least embrace their right to think and even behave differently.
If you have not figured out strategies to work more efficiently in the last year, you haven’t been paying attention. As an example, without drive time and unnecessary chit-chat, we can cut a 2-hour meeting down to 40 minutes. We can do our grocery shopping from our phone. For those still not digital savvy, improve your software proficiency – soon. The selective and effective use of virtual technology can give you countless precious hours of your life back.
However, we must use the right medium in the right way for the right objective. Some interactions such as information sharing or work coordination, can be ideal for the virtual medium. Others, such as difficult conversations or culture and relationship building, may be best suited for face to face.
Spend Time on What Matters Most
Many of these unintended consequences can profoundly improve our quality of life. Shortly after the shut down last Spring, we saw people leave barstools, theaters, and video poker to have a barbeque in the park or take a bike ride with friends. We have seen the family dinner hour stage a comeback. We have video chats with old friends we haven’t seen in years. We have embraced and enjoyed precious human experiences that had been neglected for decades. Now that we have created some new ways to save time, we must not squander it.
The last year has been a strange and often scary journey. But often, good things are born of adversity. We should not change everything, or download every new smart phone app. But if we are discerning and constructive, recent months will provide lessons that can make us more focused at work, and more fulfilled at home. There is tangible good that has come from this experience. What have you taken away that can enrich your future?
If you are interested in best practices to improve your professional and personal effectiveness, call me at 702-379-6524.