Last week, I spoke to a group of executives in New York City. It was the first time since the onset of the COVID pandemic that these leaders had been in the same room without a mask and physical distancing mandate. Everyone seemed excited to visit with one another and dream about the next chapter – the post-COVID pandemic chapter.
I took the time to remind them of all the chapter changes that they have experienced in their lives. Times like:
- Finishing school and starting your career
- Going from single to in a relationship
- Changing from one job to another
These are chapter changes that all of us can relate to. Page-turning moments carry excitement for the next chapter and a bit of longing for parts of the previous chapter.
You’re excited about your new:
- Career, but long for your school friends and your time in school.
- Relationship, but miss aspects of single life.
- Job, but miss the familiarity of your last position.
As I stood in front of the audience on the 26th floor of a midtown Manhattan meeting space, I reminded everyone of the chapter change we were collectively experiencing. Just three days earlier, the city lifted its mask mandate. There we were, standing bared faced in the room, seeing people smiling in public for the first time in two years. We were all cautiously optimistic as we turned the page from the COVID pandemic chapter.
When I asked who would look back over their shoulder at the COVID chapter longing for events in that period, not one person raised their hand. Not a single person admitted wanting mask mandates or social distancing stickers on the ground.
Nonetheless, I encouraged them, and I encourage you, to consider bringing a few lessons forward with them into the next chapter of their lives. I then pointed to three lessons they might consider hanging on to:
- Clarification – limited resources and restrictions caused by COVID required many leaders better to focus their time, energy, and attention.
- Communication – COVID induced anxiety, fear, and uncertainty caused leaders to communicate more frequently and through new modes to ensure people were remained informed.
- Creation – ingenuity and necessity caused organizations to create solutions and implement projects they had talked about in the past but now were compelled to complete. As one CEO told me, “When COVID hit, a five-year strategic initiative became a three-week project.”
I don’t know if these are three lessons you should take forward into the next chapter of your life, but I bet there are a few hard-fought experiences that shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. Use this week’s video and tool to capture both a summary of the last chapter and a vision for the next chapter. Then, identify three specific lessons that you can carry forward with you.
Patrick Leddin, PhD is a speaker, global leadership consultant, and The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Five-Week Leadership Challenge. Patrick is an Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University with a thriving leadership blog and podcast, and 25-years of leadership experience. He offers an unparalleled mix of academic rigor and real-world experience.