The new (surreal) normal: What I've learnt in a week

Pardon the Interruption

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The nature of time amazes me. Let me explain. What happens in twenty four hours today is what happened over several months only a few weeks ago. I’m no mathematician, but the rate of change and uncertainty seem to be compounding. What I do know is, at some point, this will come to an end, and the world will look very different. Until then, we live in a ‘suspended reality’ – and everyone is having their unique experience and reaction to events as they unfold.
It has been amazing to see the mallowstreet team adapt to the new world. The majority of the team started working from home on the 6th of March, getting used to our new chosen ways to keep in touch, stay connected, and support one another.  For weeks now, our daily firm wide stand ups are digital. We interject humour where we can: I particularly like the backgrounds some people are using on Zoom meetings, from an image on a beach with palm trees, to a view from outer space. The team is being patient and kind – and listening to one another.  
It is difficult to get your mind comfortable in a world as uncertain and volatile as this one. Am I doing everything correctly? Certainly not. I read once that C-Suite statistically make the wrong decisions about 70% of the time. The key to success is keeping an open mind, being flexible with your decisions as the facts change, and the environment changes.
Life must go on – both business and personal. This week we’ve seen significant increase of traffic and activity on As more and more people continue to work from home, the human need to access information, collaborate with peers and colleagues will only increase.  We hosted our first digital events this week – and it is amazing to see how quickly our members are embracing new forums and mediums of communication. Without leaving our houses, we had experts from Hong Kong and Singapore telling everyone in the UK about their experience with Covid-19, and what investors might expect in the next several weeks.  We heard raw stories about what was happening on the ground in China, the policy response, the mistakes and lessons. It was probably the most valuable two hours of anything I did this week. 
So what are the five things I’ve learned this week?  I’ve learned:
  • That Monday feels like a lifetime ago (and I will feel this way again next Friday)
  • I cannot just stare at my screen for 10 hours a day non-stop
  • I need to go for a walk every day and go for a run (for my physical, but mainly mental health)
  • This is a marathon, not a sprint
  • In conversations, I need to understand how they are feeling, and ‘meet them in that place’ 
This last point is important. Everyone has a different reaction to what’s going on: a unique view on how they believe events are going to unfold, their own feelings (fears and hopes), and their own individual experience on the direct impacts on their lives.  It sounds simple, but just because I feel one way one day does not mean that the person I am speaking to has the same perspective. We live in a shared new reality, and how we all feel and react as individuals is vastly different.
So when it comes to communication, I’m taking my time. Talking to the team individually. Not just checking in, asking how they are doing, how they are feeling, and most importantly, listening.  When you’ve been social distancing your first instinct is to talk. I’ve learned my first instinct needs to be to listen. To listen, be honest, to reassure where I can, to support, and help the amazing team we’ve created at mallowstreet move forward together, one day at a time.