When the COVID pandemic forced us into lockdown more than six months ago, it was the obvious things that hit me first – not being able to go out, to shake hands, to hug my grandsons, to visit my mother. I spent most of my online time reading the news, tracking the numbers, looking for clues as to when this would end. And gradually, I came to realize that this was not a short-term situation, and I would have to adapt and plan for the long term. And that’s when the unexpected started to happen.
With almost no work on the horizon, I refocused on learning and connecting with others online. And as in-person events changed to virtual delivery, there were new opportunities to tap into global networks of colleagues and peers. Conferences that would have cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to attend in person were now accessible for a small registration fee. I was able to attend the World Human Forum in May, and the ILA Women and Leadership Conference in June, and this week I will be participating in the Annual Global Conference of the International Leadership Association. In all of these, there are opportunities to connect and interact with small groups of people in a meaningful way. Not exactly the same as meeting in person, but close.
More importantly, since April I have had ongoing online conversations with small groups of colleagues and friends. These calls have helped me feel less isolated. They have opened up new ideas and ways of seeing the world. And even as work has once again become busy, I am finding they are vital to my mental health. Thank goodness they are easier than ever to organize and join!
What new connections have you discovered in the past few months? How are you staying connected despite physical isolation?