Do you cancel? Or do you move it online?

Screen Shot 2020-03-13 at 10.40.38 PM

Might this be an opportunity for you to re-imagine the quality and depth possible through better virtual spaces?

  • For me, most of the past 6 years I’ve built my organization while living at home in another city.
  • I’ve also built many of my deepest, most meaningful friendships, and communities online.
  • I’ve joined spirituality groups that only meet online.
  • I’ve started organizing 150+ gatherings online and made them meaningful for participants by using Zoom’s Breakout Rooms features — allowing us to have 1-on-1 networking and small group time.
  • I’ve also been using Zoom for enlisting my friends to help me make some of my hardest decisions, by facilitating virtual Clearness Committees.
  • Meaningful check-ins with friends from around the globe have made life easier in the hard times.

You can relate generously and in profound ways… all online. 

What I really want to tell you is — I think you would be surprised how much depth and quality you can find from the right kind social interaction online.

  • Seth Godin offers some of the most helpful advice. I highly recommend this post, and the Akimbo Workshops:
    • Here are two of the four leaps Seth says we need to make:
    • Leap 2: There’s a difference between asynchronous and synchronous interaction. We know this intuitively in the real world (a letter is different from a phone call) but online, it’s profound. A discussion board isn’t the same as a Zoom call. It turns out that we can create rich and layered conversations with async communication, but we also have to be just a bit more patient.

      Leap 3: More than one person can ‘talk’ at a time. In the real world, that’s impossible. At a table for six, we take turns talking. But in a chat room, we can all talk at the same time. Use it well and you can dramatically increase information exchange. (But if you try to follow all the threads, or you miss what you need, then it’s actually less effective.)

    • It’s possible, with effort, to transform business communications (and schooling) away from the top-down, synchronized, compliance-focused, off-the-record, hierarchical and slow status quo to something significantly more fluid and powerful. But we’ll need to do it on purpose.

 

Here’s what my experience has been:

  • Two years ago, I took the altMBA — a 4 week intensive workshop that was 100% online.
  • What I didn’t expect is that it transformed my perspective on how powerful virtual spaces could be. When the expectations are set for you to do your most important work and to embrace the emotional labor… and dance with your fear, I found myself being more vulnerable with the 3-4 others in my peer learning group. I found myself being more honest and real than I had been with some of my closest friends. My altMBA peers and I were together 3 days a week for 14 hours, so it was a lot of time together… but we also shipped 3 projects each week, commented on each other’s projects and wrote 3 reflections each week. Screen Shot 2019-12-10 at 2.36.26 PM
  • We got a LOT of work done together. I learned to give written feedback in a way that just mirrors back what I’m seeing. The every 3 day practice of writing a dozen set of comments taught me to ask better questions. The practice of writing and publishing online my reflection and synthesized learnings from reading other’s comments has led me to take more strategic risks. My peers in the learning groups taught me to create tension in a way that created change. The whole experience showed me that we can create a culture of reciprocity, where everyone actually does give generously, because they see how wonderful and liberating the culture can be.

The problem is, many of us interact online in crappy ways, and so we judge ourselves because some spaces are a bastion of negativity and distraction.

Take the leap. You, too, can create a culture of generosity, deep relating — all online. 

My hope in this time where we increase our social distance and stop our large gatherings, that you might see this moment as an opportunity to leap. An opportunity to take a risk, try something new — and collaboratively create online spaces that build the culture of reciprocity, gift, and mutuality. You can create the kind of culture that we most want to see.

In the next few days, I’m going to share the frameworks and strategies for how the online communities I’ve been part of have completely re-shaped my thinking for what’s possible online.

I hope you’ll join me in taking a leap to try re-thinking the possibilities when you bring the right tools together. With Zoom, Slack other similar tools, I think you may find the transition easier than you thought.

But there are a few critical elements…

Let me know if you’re ready for the leap, I’d love to talk.

I also have a live Q&A, best practices sharing, and more intensive spiritual community workshop that I’m leading coming up.

My Coronavirus Prayers

In this time of growing anxiety and concern, I’m feeling increasingly called to stay grounded.

My prayer for myself is that I can take an extra 5-15 minutes each day to just sit in silence. 

  • A few moments to center myself by paying attention to my breath.
  • A minute to recall that all of life is a gift. Each moment we have is a precious opportunity to love, to go deeper, to be vulnerable and honest, to be generous.
  • A minute to remember that all we have can at a moment’s notice can slip away — death, illness, tragedy — we encounter risks every day. Driving to work, school.

 

My prayer is also that I might be calm and slower to act. I want to channel the swells of energy I have in new ways.

  • For most of the past few years, the story of success that I tell myself is that when I have a swell of energy to do something, I just go do it. Usually this has been in the form of calling a friend, colleague, member-owner,  then writing an email, or organizing a gathering or a project. I feel like when I’ve done this something new has emerged and it has been good and has led to what is next. The challenge I face now is that I’m feeling that urge — that swell of energy — bubbling up inside of me increasingly often and I can’t even keep up with all the swells of energy I feel.
  • Fortunately, I’ve had friends and colleagues who have reflected this back to me and so I’ve begun to slow down. I’ve begun to draft the email, but then not send it. I’ve begun to make the decision not to call that person, but rather to pick up my notebook and write instead.
  • I’m now trying to figure out how to transmit these swells of energy I feel into the longer, deeper work. What is the most important project I’m called to move forward this year? What might be the most meaningful contribution I can make over the next two years? How am I making meaningful time each day or each week to allow that deeper work the space it needs in my life to become what it’s meant to be?

 

My prayer is that I continue to invest in my writing, and the slower reflective work that might be what leads me to actually co-creating with God. 

  • As a person of faith, I feel like this deeper, slower writing work is part of co-creating with God. It’s less about what I write today or tomorrow or this month or next month, but it’s the gradual work of patiently observing what’s happening in and around me. It’s the work of becoming gradually more attuned to the signs God’s offering me in my life. For me this is about seeing the work of parenting that I’m in middle of — as connected to who God is calling me to be. (For example, allowing my children space for big feelings, genuinely empathizing with those feelings, and gradually seeing that as connected to their — and my own — development of self-regulation, resilience, and emotional intelligence.)
  • It’s also about looking back over the past several years on trying to honestly reflect on and integrate what I’ve learned about myself in different work settings. Where have I found the deepest joy and satisfaction? Where have I found my favorite transferable skills being recognized, appreciated, and valued by others? What might God be inviting me to see as I reflect on those patterns over time?

 

I’ll be honest though. Even while I know intellectually everything that I just said, it’s brutally difficult for me to actualize and implement it in my own life. Yet, by writing it and sharing it with you, I’m inviting you to help me be more accountable to this deeper co-creative work.

I feel particularly compelled to ask for your help and prayers for me (and all of us) in this moment, because of the growing pain, anxiety, and fear that I sense we’re feeling.

For me, a few factors that seem to be exacerbating the difficulty:

    • Death of Patrick Hidalgo. A week ago, I learned that one of my closest friends died suddenly in his sleep. He was healthy and living in the prime of his life at 41 years old. He was a model for me of someone who balanced work in privileged political circles, while also building meaningful relationships with the poor and marginalized. For example, the last person he spoke with before he died was the immigrant doorman at the building where he lived in Miami. Apparently he had a lengthy and very meaningful conversation with him. At Patrick’s wake I met civil rights lawyers, community organizers, and got the sense that
      • he spent as much time as he did running his own business as he did
      • accompanying the poor and those organizing amongst the poor as he did
      • in elite political circles aiming to change the political and economic narrative, culture and moment in Florida, in Cuba-US relations, and in our Country as a whole.
      • This helps me see that at the end of our lives, we are measured as much by the depth of the relationships we have and the kinds of community we build and maintain — as anything else.
    • My own mortality. Because of Patrick’s death, I’ve begun to reflect on my own death. I’m more aware of how I’m living now that I see death as a real possibility in the near term. I want to spend more time thinking about my mortality and re-evaluating where I’m at. I’m going on retreat next week to create space for this conversation with God and deeper reflection.
    • Growing anxiety and panic. As Coronavirus spreads and begins to affect more and more parts of my life — from conferences and travel, to members of CPA Co-op and thinking about remote learning and alternative ways to worship — I recognize that it’s harder to make time for the gradual, slower work that takes years. It’s so easy to get swept up into the anxiety and panic and spend our time and attention there. It’s harder to keep moving towards the work that is shifting the underlying conditions to make a new economic model possible.
    • Quarantine and stocking up on food and supplies. The way my partner and family are encouraging me to hunker down seems to be pushing us more into a fear-based mindset and set of behaviors. Even if we do choose to stock up and be prepared, I pray that we not let that fear continue to be the primary operating force in more and more of our actions.
    • Schools and Universities cancelling. As pressure mounts for more schools and universities to cancel, I see huge opportunities for remote learning. I see huge potential to embrace Zoom virtual meetings, break-out rooms. I’m thinking more and more of the transformative experience I had in Seth Godin’s altMBA 2 years ago and the multiple virtual workshops that I’ve facilitated in the past year that have build authentic, deep community faster than any in person community I’ve been part of in the past couple of years. I’m hopeful that we can make use of this moment to try and be creative and innovate in new ways to do our most important work
    • In my work world — churches making changes to how they have liturgy and worship also leads to so many more questions — I’ll leave that for another post.

 

  • Conferences and mass gatherings being cancelled everywhere. 

 

For me, all this adds up to an invitation to slower, deeper work.

Instead of going to Italy to be with other young economists and entrepreneurs at the end of March; I’m going on a silent retreat. I’m hoping to allow the spirit of Pope Francis’ letter and the model of St. Francis of Assisi to sink in deeper into the fibers of my being.

I pray that you pray for me and all of us that we might resist fear, and take this moment as an opportunity to turn into our most important, deeper work.