Flexibility? I’ve got this. Or so I thought. After all, I have three rambunctious boys. A major house renovation in progress. High expectations from an ever-shifting array of clients with large and complex businesses. Oh, and I do yoga. Downward dog at 6.30 AM? I’m there.
And then… the world changed. For all of us. Already, I’ve needed to be more flexible than ever. And I’ve realized I don’t have the lock on this thing. A few cases in point:
I now share my office with a builder. The office is on the third floor of my home. The builder isn’t the one doing my kitchen renovation. He’s 10. He builds Legos. They are all over the floor. This space has been his refuge, away from his youngest brother, who is an especially thunderous toddler, and tends to play Godzilla in the Lego metropolis. My builder and I have come to a peaceful coexistence, but it’s been an adjustment. It helps that he brings me a mug of hot coffee each morning. I bring him an afternoon snack.
On a more serious note, our clients span a range of industries, but every single one of them is heavily impacted by COVID-19. Their top priorities from four weeks ago – ones we’d been partnering with them to address over the last year or more – suddenly shifted. Dramatically. In a few cases, foreseeably. As a result, we’ve had to shift gears in our work with our clients. Pivoting our attentions to provide help with what they need most right now. Re-thinking the way we do our work in light of overstretched resources on their side, and the need to do absolutely, positively everything virtually. Acting as a sounding board and a connector – more than ever before – to help them through this period.
Our team? I see them, but I don’t. I miss it. We can Zoom all we want, but nothing beats the Navigate kitchen. See, in our main office, we have a wide open kitchen space instead of a corporate lobby. It’s where we gather. Catch up. On matters large (how best to crush that next milestone for a client) and small (you made those cupcakes yourself?). Virtual tools are great, but there is something about being shoulder to shoulder with our team – in the kitchen, in meetings, at client sites – that cannot be replaced by a video connection. We’re learning fast how important that in-person time had been to us and we’re getting creative with the things we can do to help fill that void.
I sure would like everything to get back to “normal” in a few weeks. But I’m coming to terms with the fact that that is… unlikely. At the same time, I’m inspired by the flexibility I’m seeing in others. Clients and team members, to be sure. But also… Mayors. Hospital workers. Teachers. And so many others. Making radical changes without a playbook. (Have you heard about Ireland’s Prime Minister?) I’m also – most days – encouraged by my own ability to adapt in small ways. Because, right now, this new-found flexibility is what’s enabling me to get my clients, my team members, and my family what they need most. I might not have progressed from barely touching my toes to becoming a human pretzel overnight (let’s leave that to my yoga instructor), but I’m stretching myself to work in new ways. And seeing results.