In just two weeks, Covid19 erased all my beliefs and assumptions about how the world works. It destroyed my business model. It isolated me from all of humanity. It eroded my financial resources. Now I am about to find out how adaptive I really am.
I have spent the last eleven years espousing the virtues of being adaptable. It all started when I discovered Ron Heifetz and Marty Linsky and their leadership work at Harvard. They teach a course called Adaptive Leadership. It’s quite popular and their work over the last twenty five years has spread adaptive leadership (AL) around the world. Adaptive leadership might have been the first virus I actually caught. Like Covid19, there is no immunization, so I have been a carrier for over a decade.
I have done my damndest to spread AL wherever I worked. I have consulting colleagues who refer to me as an adaptive leadership expert. We consultants are prone to exaggeration. I did write a dissertation on AL (it was average) and I do coach and facilitate the development of AL but I am a million miles from being an expert in anything.
I have a deep feeling I am about to experience the wide gap between what I espouse about how to adaptively lead and what I actually do everyday. What I do most days is stay the course, and tweek the edges. Make small adjustments. Adjustments in types of clients I seek, who I partner with and the types of projects I will do. I have had a great deal of freedom and autonomy in my consulting practice.
Covid19 is leaving a hideous trail of death and economic destruction. But the virus also brings a reminder of the potency and power we each have to make choices. There will be losses I have to embrace if I am to move forward. But I am still free to choose what is ahead.
Adapting requires me to leave non-essential baggage behind. Adapting requires me to choose what is essential in my life that I must carry with me through the portal into the new world. Adapting affords me the space to design new ways of living in this world and helping people. Nothing here is straightforward. It was not part of my plan to redesign a wide swath of my life at age 64 but since I plan to live for at least another 30 years I have some time. I suspect adapting to the new world order will be harder than I think and easier than I imagine.