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Week Three – Leaning into the New Normal

Wow! We enter week three of living in this virtual world of business and life. Today is Friday and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to engage remotely with so many. At the same time, I am excited and a bit relieved; excited to have a couple of days to just be, read, exercise, and relax, and relieved that we may all be closer to the end of this pandemic. We all have an opportunity to take advantage of the “down time” and I suggest we take full advantage.

Here are my observations, reflections, and learnings from this week:

1) Being Quarantined Can Take a Toll on the Home-front

As we come into week three, we all realize that this is not ending anytime soon. The first two weeks centered on getting into a rhythm and establishing new routines. Some of us may have even experienced slight relief that we no longer have a commute and we get to spend more time with our families. While all of that is true, the novelty of it can wear off and we are left with a lot of “unsaids” - little frustrations that compound, like: “Have you noticed me today?” or “Hmm, am I the only one that cleans the kitchen?” or, “We have not had a real conversation in weeks because the news is always on in the background” or “I feel as if each room in our home is now an office and I have nowhere to go.” Does any of this resonate? This leads to tension building and, dare I say, an outburst here or there of pent up anger and frustration.

My family sat down at the beginning of this week and had dinner together. We discussed how surprisingly splendid things were going despite being sealed in together at home. Well guess what? The next day, the veneer began to crack. This breakdown, however, offered an incredible opportunity for each of us to share what was working, what was not working, and what each of us needed more of or less of in order to move through the next days, and potential weeks, ahead with love, kindness, and ease. Being able to get the “unsaid” out on the table, converse, and listen to one another was so freeing.

Now, there are also those who live individually. This comes with its own set of challenges. At Hollister, we are very tuned in to those who live alone and we make every effort to recognize and prioritize them by checking in frequently.

Being mindful of those around us and of ourselves, being honest about and making agreements as to what is working and what is not, and making specific requests of one another and of ourselves will help all of us get through this collectively and individually.

2) Connection is Critical 

I love Zoom. It was great to see all the faces at our company-wide Monday Morning Meeting and to address everyone. We challenged ourselves to dare to have authentic, real conversations and to see how we can serve in this grave time of need. I am finding that the conversations are deeper, more authentic, and increasingly vulnerable as we are seeing people in their homes, some holding an infant or home schooling while managing our insecurities and being in our most raw of states. The facades come off and the small talk is dwindling to near extinction. While this level of conversation can be new, and potentially uncomfortable to many, it can also be heartwarmingly authentic.

During one of my calls, someone remarked that they feel more connected to the people with whom they are in dialogue. We have learned how important small team meetings and frequent individual checks-ins are to keep the positive energy flowing. Additionally, our book club is starting up again and that will bring people together from different areas within the company, with different things to discuss. We are also working to bring more levity into our meetings. I have learned the power of laughter can act as a healing agent, and I will keep you all posted on how we do it and how that goes.

3) Be Vulnerable

This is the key! When I lead meditation daily for our team, we start by going around and each giving a word as to how we feel at that specific moment. I appreciate how vulnerable and honest everyone is, because it allows us to accept any and all emotions. Once we name those emotions, they can no longer control us. It takes courage to be vulnerable and, when we are vulnerable, it deepens the trust among one another and strengthens our relationships. As a result of this pandemic, we are all in touch with being our most human, or, "human beings" as opposed to the "human doings" in the roles we play in our professional lives. This is a gift, if we allow it, that is coming into all of our organizations and may it never leave. We are being forced into emotional intelligence which I love, as it is the essence of the work we do at Hollister. On a Zoom call I ran for leaders this week, one participant said, “look what we are talking about, in business of all places - daring to be more vulnerable and knowing it is okay and it is part of being human.” Hallelujah!

That’s what I’ve got for now. Tune in next week when I will be committed to tapping into sharing more about energy and how it is the number one element that matters most right now. Have a restful, peaceful & loving weekend!

With gratitude,

Kip Hollister