Amazing how much can happen in a year, isn’t it? This time last year, everyone was hunkered down, preparing for an indefinite time in lockdown or quarantine, and making often-severe adjustments to what was then only the beginning of the “new normal,” whether that meant home-schooling children or taking in elderly parents for fear of what would happen if they were left alone or in a care community.
Slowly but surely, we began to accept mask-wearing as a norm and kept our “social distance” from other community members and most strangely, even from loved ones. The whole thing was weird and uncomfortable, but we persevered and managed to find joy in the simple things, even if that meant a great series on Netflix, a new recipe, or fresh produce or herbs from the garden. Those little things really got us through!
Interestingly, the inability to go to the office or workplace, to socialize normally, to interact in public places, made our focus smaller, but expanded our experience in other ways. In spite of the loneliness, isolation, and disruption we felt during the pandemic, research suggests that people have shown remarkable resilience in the face of adversity.
People are adaptive – for instance, people’s conscientiousness tends to increase when they take on a demanding role, and their traits rebound in positive fashion after leaving a difficult relationship, suggesting that we’ll find a way to cope with whatever the future has in store” (bbc.com).
Similarly, around this time in 2020, it was written in The New York Times:
After a crisis, most people acquire a newfound sense of purpose, develop deeper relationships, have a greater appreciation of life and report other benefits.”
That feels really prescient now.
As we begin to see the signs of normalcy returning – vaccines being administered, mask mandates lifting, lower numbers of new virus cases, businesses reopening, etc. – we can approach life with a “newfound sense of purpose” and a new gratitude for the simple things, such as being able to gather with loved ones, move freely about in public, and maybe even catch up on some much needed hugs (bye-bye elbow bump)!
Springing toward summer
This is the time of year to be on the lookout for newness – flowers bloom and trees bud – and it’s the perfect time to clear away the old and freshen up for what’s ahead. Maybe that means cleaning out your eLearning content library and/or adding new courses to your program.
For me personally, my mornings lately have been improved by a family of quail in my backyard – Dad, with his prominent plume; Mom, smaller but following proudly behind; and their seven little babies, struggling to keep up and go where their parents lead them. I’m fascinated watching them parade in line and always wonder what miraculous communication methods they must have to stay so connected and organized.
Being at home more has given me this “greater appreciation of life” and has allowed me to take notice of things that maybe I wouldn’t have before. I was too busy running from one place to the next. In the past year I’ve had more time and solitude to just watch out the windows, observe the birds, and listen to their sounds. With my eyes closed I can identify a quail squawk (almost like a cluck) from the chirps of the multitude of lovebirds who live in my palm tree to the buzz of the hummingbirds who zing around my front bushes daily. I’m more aware of their schedules – when they’re more active versus when they’re still and silent.
I plan to maintain and develop further this awareness, even as we return to “normal” life.
A reset for corporate learning?
I wonder how the transition back to “normal” will affect our learning programs and learners in general. Will our awareness have changed? Will we have a refreshed appreciation for live, classroom sessions and how can we capitalize on that? Will our increased comfort with self-paced, asynchronous training and web conferencing make eLearning that much more effective?
All in all, as we go back to business as usual, I believe people will appreciate the basic things in life more. We may savor a few minutes chatting with a colleague at the coffee bar. We may relish a team-building event that gets everyone in the same room. We may attend a learning conference in a big hotel and honor the scope of it.
Any way you shake it, better times are on the horizon. Many businesses and communities are rebounding. But, most of us are forever changed. Let’s hope it’s for the better – more grateful, more attentive, more appreciative.