theOAKJournal

The Past is the Past: Lessons in letting go

The Past is the Past: Lessons in letting go

Call it the new normal, the next normal, or whatever you like. The past is behind us, and it is never coming back. The beauty of this statement is that it holds regardless of the current situation. The pandemic amplifies it. 

We are all adapting to something. In my case, I have had to learn how to connect to people remotely, personally, and professionally. Most of my work required in-person interaction... at least that is what I told myself. As it turns out, that is not necessarily true. I have managed many relationships, just fine. 

That is the beauty of any disruption to your normal flow of life. It challenges what you have known and opens the opportunity for what could be. All that you need to do is be willing to accept it. Clinging to an old way of doing things isn't going to get you very far during a disruption. What are you clinging to right now? Is the world waiting for you while you tighten your grip? 

How to recognize when it is time to let go

The past is history, and you cannot change it. You should learn from it and use it as a predictor of what is to come. Make sure the lessons are still applicable. It is unlikely that I will be able to put on a big event to gather attention for the foreseeable future. Is it a wise use of my time opining for the good old days where we could all get together in person? Should I be looking into e venues? Of course not. I know my example is obvious, but it makes the point. What are you holding on to right now that is not feasible for our current situation? Are you waiting for a change to happen that is out of your control so you can move back to the way things were? If the answer is yes, then you probably need to let go. 

How can I adapt?

This is the crucial question we all need to be asking ourselves. The best way I know how to adapt is to reflect on my core values and determine what I actually want to accomplish. I get back to the fundamental goal and need. In the case of being social, I need to decide what I need when connecting with others. Is what I need dependant on how I get it? Probably not. It may not be perfect, but technology has allowed me to connect with others. I still get to see my friends and business associates. I am still networking and learning. Sure, I prefer physical proximity, but I am not limited by it. Adapting does not mean that it is better than before. Often it is far from it. Adapting is accepting the new circumstances and still finding a way to achieve a goal. 

Change your expectations

Another way to adapt is to accept that there are constraints that did not exist before. If I expect to get the same quality of interaction in a pandemic, then I am not setting myself up for success. Instead, I can accept the limitation and make the most of it. I can't hug you over zoom, but was the hug necessary in the first place? I have two dogs, two kids, and a wife. I am still getting hugs. 

On a more somber note, a close relative is currently in hospice. I cannot see her in person. I desperately want to "be there" for her, and I cannot. If I choose to wait for the perfect situation, I will not be there at all. Instead, I have to confront the situation as it presents itself. Then it is up to me to turn the constraint into a new opportunity. In this case, we connect over the phone, and I was able to share my streaming music account with her so that she could listen to music to comfort her. Not ideal, and yet it is something. 

Identify opportunity

Constraints can be pretty powerful. They can be pretty motivating if you are in the right mindset. One can become a victim to them, or one can use them as motivation. The people that recognize that the world has changed and will continue to improve are better positioned to survive and ultimately thrive. I just heard a story about a pizza restaurant in NY that made the bulk of their sales selling slices. Under the stay at home order, they were unable to sell slices, and they selling whole pies was not a viable option. The asset that they had was a pizza oven. They learned that they could make and sell PPE using the high-temperature oven. That has saved their business. This story perfectly illustrates a significant adaptation of a business model. I would much rather be working on adapting my business model to meet my customer's current needs, in this case, PPE, rather than waiting and hoping for the world to move back to buying pizza slices. One is an opportunity, and the other is a refusal to adapt. 

This pandemic is the most significant disruption of my lifetime. I hope that we can all find our way to thrive in this new reality of ours.