It’s Okay To Feel “Both/And”

For me, the end of summer is always a time of anticipation AND reflection.  This year, it is both the same AND completely different – and that’s okay.

I remember as a child the traditions of purchasing back-to-school clothes and supplies, choosing a new lunch-box, and the way my summer bare feet had to readjust to wearing shoes, and day-dreaming about what the new school year would bring.

Later, working in the performing arts, normally by the end of August I was already in count-down mode for opening nights; implementing plans, securing the resources, and ensuring our artists would all have what they needed to do their best work.  

And, now?

This year, during a pandemic, we’re experiencing multiple dynamics at once. I’ve witnessed time stretching, expanding, speeding up, AND standing still… sometimes all in the same day!

  • We’re excited AND we’re cautious.
  • We’re pausing AND we’re busier than ever.
  • We’re reflecting and we’re planning.
  • We’re sheltering in place AND we’re connecting deeply in new ways.
  • We’re looking forward AND we’re trying to stay on top of things.
  • We’re confident in knowing exactly what and how to do things AND we’re feeling uncertain for the first time in our careers.
  • We’re feeling overwhelmed and exhausted AND we’re feeling energized and focused.
  • We see possibility AND…  (well, for me – I do always see possibility).

It IS okay.

I get to coach and collaborate with incredible leaders, and over these past two weeks, I found myself sharing over and over that it IS indeed “normal” to be feeling all these things at once.  That clarity in purpose and next steps CAN occur during these moments of duality and transition.

For those leaders feeling a pulling to making a change in your leadership role, it may be helpful to release any self-judgement about feeling this mixture of feelings.  Focusing on your daily impact (you ARE having impact), observing what you are grateful for, and celebrating moments of joy – are all strategic tools that can help.

In my role as Interim CEO, leading and creating a path forward with so many unknowns and with so much at stake is revealing the power of kindness and celebration of impact; observing that we each have “turns” in how we are showing up, and learning how to support each other in this shifting, often high-stress environment.

“Times of transition and change create unprecedented opportunities to mindfully curate the lives, careers and businesses we (really) want – with impact, ease, meaning, financial sustainability and joy.” – Kathryn R Martin

Earlier this week, I received an email from a group I’m in, noting that “due to the Holiday weekend, many of you are already out of the office and so our regular meeting is cancelled. I truly hope you can take some time to unwind a bit.”  I was struck by the fact that with all the (exciting) work needing to be done as the Santa Barbara Symphony prepares to make some big announcements and launch a new website, I hadn’t stopped to think about taking a moment to pause before the new “school year” begins.  It may be because I now have a practice of pausing every day to reflect, AND it may be because I know that my team is counting on me to get a lot done before next week. 

What I do know, is that we can always make choices that ensure we are able to continue to curate our lives of impact and joy.  I will be working this weekend AND taking time to relax and rejuvenate!  

How will you be reflecting AND looking forward this weekend?!

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