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What is the relationship between Hope, Toilet Paper and pandemics?

April 27, 2020

Who was ready for the physical distancing, the home isolation, or the run on toilet paper? Covid 19 was a surprise. What will be your story about this event in history?

Who was ready for the physical distancing, the home isolation, or the run on toilet paper? Covid 19 was a surprise. What will be your story about this event in history? How were you affected? Were you well positioned to thrive or were you at the other end of the spectrum and were devastated or somewhere in between? Those who had been stockpiling food and toilet paper were feeling smug for this event validated their efforts. They were ready. For the rest of us, it’s good the supply chain remained strong so we could create our own stockpile.

The pandemic is just an example of how changes happen in our life. This one by definition touched the majority of the people in the world at the same time. Did your reality change? What in your life changed? What truths became irrelevant? How prepared were you to face such a significant event emotionally, physically, at work, at home, in your relationship? Can you prepare for the next big change? What changes are you making given this new possibility of a pandemic happening?

Change by its very nature is a disruption. It is an altering of the trajectory of something. I worked 25 years as a project manager. The early part of that experience I saw my job as creating the project plan and holding people to their deliverables. Staying on plan was the objective and the measure of success. Changes to scope, delays, illnesses, etc were signs we didn’t plan well. Next time we will put time in the plan for these possibilities or document contingency plans for these specific items.

The last half of my tenure as a PM saw these changes as the Job. Yes, project plans were in the job description as were contingency plans. It was the recognition that change will happen on every project and is what justifies having a project manager. The justification is accurate if the project manager embraces change and sees it as part of the project. Finding the solution to incorporate or work around the change is the job. Shifting to this mindset morphed “change” from a disruption or a distraction to our objective into a part of the project. I stopped working to eliminate change and instead embraced it as part of the process. Plans became guidelines. Milestones became checkpoints to assess where we are not measures of probable success.

Experience expands our capacity to deal with change in our field of expertise. Age offers us perspective. Notice I did not suggest age gives us answers. Sometimes we have the answers and other times we must learn something new. What if there is a different way to look at Change? What if Change is a function or aspect of my world, not in the universe? Isn’t it true we see change in the framework of our plan, our expectation, our rules? If we lacked plans, expectations or rules would there ever be Change? What would life be like then? What would we look forward to doing or experiencing? Wouldn’t Hope then be in question as well?

The richness of life for me centers on experiences. The disappointments, and celebrations are linked to the expectations. They give color and texture to our experiences. Hope resides in our expectations. Joy and disappointment are present when Hope is or isn’t realized. Sometimes we stop Hoping when we have been disappointed.

Change is also linked to expectations. Change is the explanation we assign when what occurs differs from what we planned or expected. One strategy for dealing with change could be targeted at eliminating the expectations. No expectation, then no change is possible. This would be like suspending Hope because things never work out. We could stop making plans, or we could deal with Change as a part of the process. We could look for what skills, equipment or resources would be needed to handle the changes presented.

How have you reacted to the pandemic or other major change in your life? What could you have done better? What would you like to do better? Take a course, read a book, and/or have a conversation with friends on the topic. Take some action toward expanding your tools for dealing with changes. Shift from having Change be something that happens to you to an opportunity for you to flourish.