“Its not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive, but those who can best manage change” – Charles Darwin
“Adjusting to the new norm”. Are you as tired of hearing this new phrase as I am? If you are, I have good news for you. There is no new norm. And I certainly wouldn’t spend time adjusting to THIS new norm, because if this year has taught us anything, it’s that the “norm” can and will change in an instant.
Maybe the better term to use is “Adjusting to constant change”. That certainly seems more appropriate for this year, and if my intuition is right, this won’t be limited to 2020. I suspect the only constant we will have for the foreseeable future IS change. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Take for example the lessons that this pandemic has taught us.
We’ve learned how to take entire companies and shift them to a remote work environment overnight. Productivity didn’t suffer, it actually improved. And we realized that what we thought were elements keeping our company working effectively might not provide the value we once thought. We’ve learned that our prior commute to work wasn’t so productive, and that it sure is a lot easier on all of us to simply walk up the stairs to our office.
Parents have become teachers, and teachers become technicians. We have had to rethink the entire social structure within our households, as remote work collided with remote teaching. And while its not a perfect or optimal approach, we found a way to cope given these extreme circumstances. We may well see dramatic transformations in education that make it both more effective and affordable as a result.
We’ve learned that distance doesn’t destroy relationships, and we’ve found new ways to connect and communicate. Social distance doesn’t mean no socializing. Virtual happy hours, virtual wine tastings, and even virtual cooking parties are now a normal occurrence. I’m sure we will one day return to the time when we gather together for cocktails, parties, and other social gatherings, but we can now connect with friends and family who live farther apart without losing the value of the connection.
We’ve learned tolerance and understanding. We’ve embraced demons from our past, and started movements aimed to make this a better world. Racism, sexism, and discrimination will soon be replaced with understanding, compassion, and a more tolerant society. I can see a day when the workforce is more balanced, access to opportunity is much broader, and our society begins to respect not only the similarities but embrace the differences.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. This crisis, these unusual times, this year that we want to forget, may well have left us with some profound and valuable lessons that will forever change how we exist as humans on this planet. And they aren’t all bad.
But there are certainly those among us that struggle with those changes. Heck, I’m one of those. But when I find myself wishing for the “good old days”, I have to stop and reflect on what was really good and what wasn’t, and to look forward to what future changes will bring.
Charles Darwin’s words are prophetic when you put it in this perspective. It’s not the strong, or the intelligent that survive. It’s those who embrace change, evolve, and adapt. And what’s interesting is this – because of that, we have a world full of such beauty and diversity.
Isn’t it time to embrace change?