Imagine launching a running shoe in the season of staying put - Monica Worth
It’s one of many examples I’ve seen of those sneaking behind a wall of scary assumptions to find a wide open piece of valuable space in which to expand the possibilities.
No one gives a hot dang about November local elections right now, right? Unless you’re a supporter of the Women’s Campaign Fund, whose door just blew open with the urgency of getting women into elected office. Why? Covid19 illuminates in stark terms the need to lend women’s Harvard-lauded skills of collaboration and firm, yet empathetic, leadership (among several other timely traits studied) to the days we’re going through and the new normal we now have to create. Suddenly 23% of Congress doesn’t cut it, when 85% of nurses and home healthcare aides are women whose lives depend on PPE not designed to fit their anatomy. How did that happen? And what about child care, living wages, and OSHA updates? Since 96% of elected offices are at more accessible local levels, the door appears wide open to change the numbers and essential policies at every rung on the ladder. Why wait?
At the other end of the spectrum, my friend’s restaurant, the beloved Griffin Tavern in rural Flint Hill, Virginia, open seven days a week for more than a decade, had to scramble on a few days’ notice to find new ways of doing business that offered a prayer of retaining and someday rehiring loyal employees. An idea percolating around the margins — selling frozen entrees — suddenly came into focus. Curbside and online sales… And those truckloads of meat and produce from commercial food suppliers? First, the Griffin worked with a key vendor as other restaurants closed or cut back suddenly to arrange a delivery of surplus to the county food pantry. The owner also got permission to operate as a curbside-delivery grocery store during the stay-in-place order, supporting vendors, saving several jobs, and sparing locals indoor health hazards and 20 mile trips for the basics.
And who ever thought that so many people could decide on their own to come together around common needs across corrosive cultural divides — in a matter of days as the pandemic gained a foothold in the U.S.?
Each example is an exercise in reimagining the environment surrounding an avalanche of heart stopping news.
What’s the big “What if…” for your organization? Your career? That idea in your heart of hearts? How about “what ifs” for those persistent ills we’ve known about for decades, even centuries? What if we can no longer ignore those needs we’ve been dancing around?
Is this the perfect moment when the need, the sudden change, the cultural whiplash, the personal and political will come together to push through the ironclad resistance that keeps the fortress doors sealed? Lockdown doesn’t mean locked doors. What if we muscle up to them — and find out the bars rusted out some time ago? What if we poke the imposing gates with the toe of a running shoe and they suddenly swing wide open?
Here’s the biggest what if: What if we never try?
President, Voice Associates