What I have learned over the last year of COVID
A supportive team goes a long way.
The ups and down anguish of this year was alleviated by the strategic support from an incredible team of people. Our Greater Missouri Board of Directors have been my co-pilots and our Executive Director built the plane making it (relatively) easy to fly.
Intuition is a powerful source.
When it comes to deciding how to make a decision during these unprecedented times, I truly believe there is no right answer. There is only so much analyzing you can do. It’s hard to say what is reasonable or practical in the present day. You have to tune into your intuition and let it guide you. And because we travel to various locations across the state, we have to be ever mindful of local rules and follow all of the advised protocols for safety.
Comparing yourself to others is a waste of precious time.
We are all interpreting COVID-19 and its repercussions in different ways. I’ve seen people carry on with in-person meetings wondering if we could have done the same. But no one circumstance is equal.
By late March, the coronavirus pandemic had caused travel within the United States and across Missouri to come to a standstill. Though we joined many businesses who were able to pivot quickly and figure out how to connect and work effectively in a remote setting through an increased reliance on conference calls, webinars and virtual platforms, all agreed: there is no replacing face-to-face interactions. That is why we will offer the Class of 2020 to join in the final three sessions with the Class of 2021 assuming it will be safe to meet in-person by June. And we are mixing up the meeting locations by switching the Kirksville session with the Kansas City one. The nature of the curriculum and the session experience in Kirksville lends itself to a greater reliance on outdoor learning, and all should be comfortable participating including our community leaders, sponsors, and alumnae.
Weigh the pros and cons.
When considering our options (proceed with in-person sessions knowing that travel restrictions would cause many to miss out, cancel outright, or proceed with a newly imagined experience), we really thought through all of the elements. Ultimately, we felt like there were too many hurdles with the former options.
Throughout all of the pivots and decision making, we made sure to communicate with each other, our individual teams and employers and our class. We reached out to our former Women of the Year recipients and kept them informed on a regular basis through our Inspiring Conversations Series. Support from our UMKC intern Julia Weber was key. She added the missing ingredients to help us embrace effective communication.
Your feelings matter.
At times, we all squelched our disappointment and sadness that we couldn’t meet in person and that our Class cohort were missing the connections that are vital to the continuity of our Foundation. We did that thing we all do: “it could be worse”. But, it could always be worse. Minimizing your own pain out of guilt and self-judgment doesn’t make any of it better. Working together we leaned into our emotions, we let them simmer and then we watched them go. Doing that made space for joy, appreciation and creativity; allowing us to dream up a whole new vision.
Life is unpredictable and largely uncontrollable.
I’ve learned this lesson before, but it has been ingrained into my being. My biggest takeaway from this pandemic and all it has caused: nothing is certain. With that truth in mind, I dove into what I could control with passion, while relinquishing what I couldn’t control with grace. That act of surrender brought so much peace. And knowing we had the right team in place to carry out the board’s vision was gratifying.
Lean into gratitude.
I don’t have enough hands to count the things I’m grateful for, but in the words and comments from our Class of 2020, all I could think of was I was glad we soldiered on. Inspiring and motivating our women leaders are wonderful outcomes of our efforts, but at the end of the day, it boils down to ensuring that our class’ individual needs are met. As we look back at the changes we created over the last year, we embrace the collaborative spirit and the memories we’ve had and the future we will build.
We invite you to enhance your connection with Greater Missouri in the New Year. Make a timely annual dues payment, keep your contact information current in our directory on our website, sign up to volunteer on a regional planning team or host a regional socially distance reception to introduce our alumnae to new members of the Class of 2021, make plans to attend the Alumnae Reunion Retreat and/or the Woman of the Year fundraising luncheon, nominate emerging leaders to be potential challenge class participants, join a committee of the board and as always, follow our social media accounts to stay updated and informed but also to share your ideas and opportunities for greater connection.