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Global Flipchart #19



September 2020

The New Reality

By Alejandro Cabral

Going to my office every morning has never been easier. What used to take around two full hours now takes me less than five minutes. My commute is always light and without traffic jams now. As my wife and I start working at different times, my stairs aren’t clogged with traffic either. 

There’s not even a watercooler, so I am more productive now than I was in my twenties.

My home-turned-office is quiet, yet more vibrant with life than ever now. It is a place that sees me turn from husband to facilitator, from leader to family member and so on every single day. My dress shirts are eagerly waiting for me to have a “serious” videocall with someone, as they know that’s when I’ll pick one of them to wear. You can almost see them doing their best to be picked. My beard, on the other hand, has rebelled and decided to grow in different ways every week, and my white hairs are more present now (or maybe I just see them more clearly).

My routine has changed in such a way that both my professional and personal lives are completely different to what they used to be before the pandemic hit us. I’ve made discoveries I wasn’t searching for and found myself capable of using skills I had long forgotten I had.

I discovered I can actually be more effective and efficient when working from home than I would otherwise be working at the office. There are certainly fewer distractions here than there are in the office, and I find myself motivated enough to remain focused. I feel myself in an almost constant state of flow.

Something is missing though, and I remind myself of this every day without allowing it to drag me down: I haven’t physically been with any of my colleagues, friends or family for so long I feel the absolute pressure of their absence. I have been in lockdown for more than six months now. Most of my colleagues have as well, and some of them have actually been infected by Covid-19. Offices are closed, and some businesses have gone entirely; never to return. We do not know when it will be safe to go out and meet others.

It hasn’t been easy. 

My relationships have suffered. I consider myself a highly functional introvert who feels safe and comfortable at home, but still feels the “pull of the outside”, where most people are used to spending most of their time.

My own facilitation practice slowed down to almost zero, but I was lucky enough to keep my “day” job as an employee for another company. I lost money of course, money I had invested in my practice and I know I won’t recover. I lost customers too, and of course, I considered downsizing. But I didn’t, and even though most people did, not everyone caved.

We are still going through the worst of the pandemic here in Argentina, and though we mourn every loss we have had, I see resiliency kicking in, driving changes and allowing business owners to do as I did: to not hold fast to a plan, but remain open to the possibilities you are given and create new scenarios where opportunity is still possible.

That has always been my driving force as a facilitator, and it has shaped my reality for the better part of the last decade. Facilitation has made it easier for me to adapt and shift, extracting myself from the problem and looking at it as if it were that of a customer seeking change.

My new reality is not different than that of others, maybe with just one exception: I don’t call it “normal”. I don’t think I ever identified with that word. I just call it what it is: The New Reality.