tED magazine recently asked its readers,“What have you learned or put into practice during the pandemic that will make your career and/or your company stronger going forward?”
We received a number of responses and included them in the upcoming digital-only special March Handbook issue of tED magazine (available 3/1/2021). But we had a few that we decided to use in our NAED.org blogs, such as the "Pandemic Life Lessons with Maureen Barsema" article that we posted on January 14th, and this response from Victor Lewis, Regional Manager of OmniCable:
During 2020, we were faced with many challenges in our country. The coronavirus pandemic forced us into isolation from our families and friends. People lost their jobs and livelihood after having to close down businesses in order to quarantine. We saw protests across the country in the hopes of creating police reform, addressing racial disparities in the justice system, and improving relations between law enforcement and civilians. We saw riots, where extremists defiled and destroyed public property, buildings, and businesses. I think I speak for most when I say I couldn’t wait for 2020 to come to an end.
I believe there are always lessons to be learned from hard times & struggles. 2020 gave us all a TON to look back and reflect on. Stephen Covey’s timeless book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” teaches a principle about empathy. He calls the technique, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”. Personally, I decided to focus on this habit during 2020 to improve my ability to communicate with others while eliminating personal judgements. I realized how important this was for me in 2019, when my now 11 year old son was diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum. Bean, (a nickname I’ve called him for years now because of his long, slender frame which reminds me of a string bean) is very introverted and shy, the exact opposite of my personality.
Things that have always come natural to me in social settings, can be very difficult for him. He will become very uncomfortable in places where I tend to thrive! I found myself getting angry because I couldn’t understand HIS “why”. His reasons for behaving certain ways in certain situations. Instead, I’d judge his behavior based on my own reasons, experience, and expectations.
In order for me to be the best Dad I could be, I needed to push myself to understand things from his point of view. Being able to “walk in his shoes” has helped me tremendously in finding solutions to help him cope with his emotions. I not only communicate better with him, but I find ways to connect with him on a deeper level which allows me to help him find better solutions that fit HIS needs.
What I’ve learned and will carry into 2021 is that true understanding from another’s perspective allows us to find much more effective solutions to problems. Instead of assuming what we see on the surface is all that’s there, we need to have the courage to dive deeper in order to create the best solutions. This same approach directly translates into interactions in the workplace. I want to be the best manager, co-worker, and leader that I can be. I also want to develop my team to be the best, help my company to grow, and create meaningful relationships with internal and external customers that extend beyond the workplace. I believe that with empathy and deeper understanding, these goals are much more attainable than without.