My last post was one week ago. Just 7 days. But it might as well have been a lifetime ago. Last Thursday, I pretty much went about my daily routine. I went to Orange Theory in the morning, came home, showered, kissed my wife and kids goodbye, got in the car and drove to work. I talked to a few colleagues on the way to work and went straight to meetings when I arrived at the office. I had time to grab a quick coffee with a coworker and eat lunch in our cafeteria. At the end of the day I headed home, had dinner with the family, watched TV, went to sleep and prepared to do it again the next day.
But the meetings I had on Thursday, like many of you, provided enough foresight to know unprecedented change was before us. Just as the rest of the world was preparing to live and work in the new normal of a pandemic, so were all of us at SEI.
How does one make sense of this “new normal?” Yes, this has been a week of enormous change for all of us. Many of us are questioning a lot. It’s an odd feeling. There is so much going on, it can feel scary and strange. Our minds are racing, yet the world seems to be moving in slow motion.
Almost overnight – we are living our lives from, well, our living rooms.
Worldwide, we are finding ourselves united by something greater than just about any other occurrence in our lifetime. We are united by the power of human connection.
It is more important than ever to stay social while social distancing
As we “try on” remote work, I realize work is still social, but without social status. There is something bigger, more important at play. This virus has taught us that it does not matter who you are, where you live, where you work or go to school or how much money you have or don’t have, we are all subject to something much more powerful than all of us. And it can feel scary.
Yet even as I type it, I am questioning my own statement. Maybe there is something more powerful than the virus at play — the strength of human resilience and connection. Connection without borders or bias — built on a foundation of taking care of ourselves and each other: our loved ones, our friends, our colleagues and strangers we will never meet. We all exist (in our homes) for a greater purpose right now – and we are ALL playing a role in (literally) trying to make the world better, for all of us.
In my “new normal,” in this morning silence before the house wakes up, I really think about what is at play. I type a good morning message to my team as I sip my coffee. What do I say? How do I lead? What will happen today? How can I be present for my team? It all seems so uncertain, and yet it is binding. I feel a need and sense of connection, not by being together at the office, but by our purpose.
Now more than ever, we must stay connected. We must stay (virtually) social. Our company went to a largely remote work situation recently and I’m proud of the communication we have had with our employees and clients alike. In last night’s email, our CEO said he would like to stop referring to “social distancing” and call it “physical distancing.” Yes, we must heed all guidance from those smarter than me — the CDC, WHO and other medical and governing bodies. For now, physical distance is a must. But it’s never been more important to be social – however you can safely achieve that.
I’m not going to lie — it’s a challenge. It’s a new normal we are all working through — but we are working through it together. As a leader, I’m committed to making sure my team and their families are safe and that they have the support they need to feel connected in a physically disconnected world. There is a bright side to this situation. It’s 2020 and we have more technology tools at our disposal than ever before. So things should run pretty smoothly at home or in the office. Take advantage of the tools. Talk to each other as if you were in that coffee shop. Check in often with your teammates. Ask them if they need anything. Then ask them again.
In times like this the days are long. Many of us are on more phone calls than we can count. There is no start and end to the day and we are serving customers, employees and family members at the same exact time — all while there is a growing level of anxiety, over what we just don’t know. But a few things really strike me as I reflect.
We are all equal…the virus is the great equalizer.
We are all kids again. We’re focused on what is directly in front of us. Not plotting and scheming — there is no time for that.
Make the best of what we have. No baseball bat? Use the broom and play some stick ball…adapt and improvise. Make the most of the moment and be thankful you had it.
Enjoy the happy moments and bright sides. Like having all 3 of my kids back under one roof for what (in the end) will be a short period of time.
Do not get caught up in the day-to-day BS. Too often, we let it bring us down and we shouldn’t. Leaders need to lead by example – others will follow.
Grudges are exhausting and in the end they don’t get us anywhere, so don’t hold them. Be the bigger person. We are all going through the very same thing right now – how often does that happen?
We all process fear and uncertainly differently. Be a little more patient, empathetic and kind today.
Enjoy each moment. Find meaning and levity in every day.
Find meaning every day, everywhere you are
Whether at home or in the office (which right now are one and the same) I realize more and more, these are words to live by. To find meaning in life you must find meaning in work, because we spend a lot of time focused on work. At same time, we don’t want to look back with regrets about all the time we spent not fully engaged in life because we were busy working.
Right now those lines are blurred more than ever, and more than ever I am convinced that life and work must be integrated. And not just because they have to be. But because it’s 2020 and we are in the middle of a global pandemic. This too shall pass and when it does I hope you have continued to find meaning and purpose in your work, while integrating it within your life.
As leaders, we are really only as successful as the team and the people we lead. We should be invested in their full success (as well as their safety) — not just at work, but in the higher purpose that drives them as individuals. There is no step-by-step how-to guide on finding someone’s inner purpose, just as there is no step-by-step how-to guide on operating in our new normal. But often times of crisis are when we shine. That is when we find our greater purpose. That is when the human race can be at its best.
Stay connected to each other. Stay safe and stay home. This too shall pass.