Wow, here we are halfway through 2020 and it sure does not feel like it. The second quarter alone may have been the most astonishing three months many of us have ever experienced.
Further, we had to process America’s reckoning with racial justice through Zoom. I do wonder if we missed cues or conversation and processing opportunities, or did not support each other as strongly as we could have or would have if we could meet in person.
As a business owner, I know I will continue to learn lessons from this period far into the future. For now, here is what I have learned so far.
Give Myself Time and Space to React and Adapt
I always joke that I am not a planner. It did not hit me much how I do plan until COVID
hit. The initial shock took my legs out from under me and I pretty much hid in bed for five days.
During that time, I worried what my team would think. I knew this was a time people would look to the leaders and I was at a complete loss for what to do. So I put on a brave face during our meetings and told them we would be fine and come out of this stronger. I did not know that for sure, though, and would immediately go back to bed after our meetings.
Then something unexpected happened. I was chatting with a friend and fellow business owner (wine may or may not have been involved) when we came up with an idea for a webinar series sharing with others how to run a remote team.
Having some way to help others during this time of crisis lifted me to lead the team in a way that I felt was genuine and not just putting on a face.
It took me five days (seven if you count the weekend) to figure out our reaction. Some jumped into action faster and others slower. I have been doing this long enough to know that I always get back up when I am knocked down (or knock myself down). This time was no different.
I also learned that there is no need to do it alone. I was able to partner with EosHR for our Remote Strong series and relied on the team, particularly Jenny, to bring it to fruition.
Since then, we have begun to form other partnerships to provide more services to small businesses.
We have always considered ourselves to have a good culture and a supportive working environment. And we have a lot of fun too!
Another thing I have prided myself on is how well organized the Core Team is in running the company.
What Q2 has pointed out to me is how we interact on a personality level. I like to say that Jenny is our spark that gets us moving, Erin gets us across the finish line, and Wilma makes sure we stay on the right path. I love how we interact with each other and appreciate even more our team dynamics.
Each of us has faced fears and discomfort this quarter to varying degrees and we have supported each other through it as best we could. We have also made sure to share resources and support with the Freedom Maker community.
Learning more about our team on a personal level has reminded me the importance of staying connected. Meeting on Zoom cannot replace in-person interactions but it is certainly better than nothing. And considering that I have never met our team in person, it is the most we have.
Listening is More Important than Talking
In the wake of George Floyd’s death, a friend shared with me that her takeaway is that we do not listen to Black Americans. The police did not listen to Eric Garner or George Floyd when they said they could not breathe, George Zimmerman did not listen to the 9-1-1 dispatcher to not follow Trayvon Martin, Amy Cooper did not listen to a request to leash her dog, and the list goes on and on.
It has only been a few weeks but I have tried to be a better listener since then. It seems many in the country are finally listening as well.
During this time of physical distancing, though, it can be easy to pretend to listen. You can look at your phone or pull up other windows on your computer and the person on the other end may not know.
Staying connected is critical now more than ever. Not just for our personal mental health but for the health of us as a nation. Only when we truly are open to each other can we all truly understand. That starts with listening: listening to your team, to the people you serve, to your family, to those different from you, and to those with differing views.
I feel that because we took the time to process everything that has happened, supported each other, and listened, we certainly are a stronger team than before this quarter.
We are now pursuing new avenues (as many small businesses are) that were not even on our radar previously. We have upped our game and stretched ourselves. I am excited (and a little scared, to be honest) as we pursue the next chapter in this adventure.