By Maura Colleton Corbett
I will not begin this like every other post, noting the new normal, the unprecedented times, the strange daily reality and all the phrases that precede nearly everything we read these days. Seriously, we don’t need the reminder. Something really bad has happened to our world, it is still happening and nobody knows when it is going to end. In fact, forget the end — we don’t even know if we are in the middle, at the end of the beginning or somewhere else entirely. The one thing we do know is that this is no sprint. It’s a marathon.
You use Slack, right? Who doesn’t? Whether you love it or hate it, it does provide a running transcript of our workdays and it’s interesting to go back to a moment in time and see what’s there. I decided to scroll back in what we call our “general” channel to 78 years ago, March 13, 2020, the day after we closed our offices down and moved to remote work. Funny, I don’t think I realized at the time that it was Friday the 13th. The world was changing so fast I’m not sure anybody noted it, which is at the very least a wasted story angle. For me, I was much more focused on the — OMG, what the hell do we do now?
As a leader of a small company, I’m learning that it’s not my job to have all the answers, which is good because I don’t. What I was not prepared for, however, was having none of the answers. We never included Managing Your Way Through a Global Pandemic in our forecasting. Or, How to Shift Your Entire Company Overnight to Work From Home for the Foreseeable Future in Five Easy Steps. Nobody ever imagines themselves having to lead in the dark.
Yet this is where we are. It’s tempting to let the dust settle or to pretend it’s not such a big deal or to say nice things to make people feel better, but your team needs none of these things. What they need and deserve is the truth: This is scary. We want to make sure you and your families are safe and healthy. We are all worried. We don’t know what’s going to happen. We will do everything in our power to ensure we come out on the other side. But all bets are off — WAIT. Hold on. All bets are off, you say? Which means we don’t have to do things the way we’ve always done them, right? Maybe that part is not a problem at all.
Think of it this way. When you get smacked upside the head with a 2x4 (yes, this can happen) and you’re lying flat on your back, the only way you can look is…up. Isn’t that interesting? Most of us spend our days looking down, checking off our lists and getting through the day. Think about it for a second — when was the last time you just laid on your back and looked at the clouds? When we let our eyes look up, we see things we’ve never seen before, never noticed before, never imagined before. When we’re not distracted by the “way we’ve always done things”, we might imagine brighter, better, bigger things. No limits, no walls, no handbook. When the world stops, maybe it’s an invitation to sit in the uncomfortable quiet and listen.
So, we listened. And we thought. And we started to come up with some small and immediate things. Most importantly, we saw the need for hope and the ways in which that hope was being provided. Because we work in tech, we, of course, saw technology connecting and serving people everywhere around us — from providing critical health services to remote learning in schools to innovations on the fly to keep the economy going — and, of course, the very, very funny (have you seen the Potato Lady?) things. This got us thinking. We should tell these stories of hope and echo them back into the world as a thank you to our community and encourage others to do the same for theirs.
So, #TheGoodNewsEcho was born. It’s our small contribution to spread positivity and joy in these difficult times. Every week we point to the best in humanity and, for our fellow geeks, how technology is making the world a better and more connected place in the most disconnected of times. It is our way of looking up.
Then go wash your hands and look up at the sky.