Whether the deterrent is COVID-19, recession, professional or personal, when the uncertain becomes certain – discombobulation can intensify without agility. With agility, the resilient talent development professional can choreograph a new dance and find reflective freedom, refined focus and insightful momentum.  Without it, you find yourself quarantined, limited and feeling oppressed by the restrictions.  You cannot easily ignore the plan you or your work environment had, did not consider all angles of a pandemic.

In the article, “perspective”- History in a Crisis- Lessons for Covid-19 by David S. Jones, M.D., PH.D on March 12, 2020 he emphasizes context. Jones says, “If you want to understand how or why something happened, you must attend to local circumstances. But there is something about epidemics that has elicited an opposite reaction from some historians: a desire to identify universal truths about how societies respond to contagious disease.” This epidemic is affecting local communities, west to east coast and worldwide in diverse ways. We can control our own actions and some of the actions within our influence, but much is out of our control. As an appreciator of art, I find frequent parallels in diverse art forms. I have been inspired by art in the form of dance, that reflects society and that causes guttural reactions. Perhaps you were excited to learn new steps, pivots and spins at a learning conference? It was cancelled so you are currently mourning your loss. Additionally, you were scheduled to present at a conference or meeting and will not get the opportunity.  Deadlines feel a thing of the past. If you are an independent consultant and gatherings are being limited due to pre-cautions about social distancing, you feel the affect mightily.

How can we creatively interpret these challenges and dream to perform beauty amidst pain?

I support workforce development for the city of Portland, Oregon.  In Portland confirmed cases of the virus are in the teens. Our Governor, Kate Brown has banned large public gatherings and schools have been shut down for two weeks beginning April 1, 2020. Mayor Ted Wheeler has declared a state of emergency. As a municipal employee non-essential staff are considering what options exist with teleworking. Essential staff – their needs, talents are of utmost consideration. Options feel limited.  Yesterday, as I rode home on public transit, mindful not to put my hands on my face and attempting to leave room between myself and other commuters, I listened to a Death, Sex & Money podcast episode “No Slumping With Twyla Tharp” where Anna Sale interviewed dancer and choreographer, Twyla Tharp about how she is dealing with new physical limitations while creating new works in her late 70s. Gratefully, there is more you can do than hoard “tp”. Thinking in terms of adjusting our steps wait, could “tp” toilet paper – also stand for “talent power”?! Say “yes” to jazz hands and step into the resourceful, agility that a talent professional instinctually and experientially has sharpened! Be something worthy of reinvention, resourcefulness and shuffling to the beat of a new rhythm are nothing new. You, they, WE are the ones who, when change and the unexpected occur have tools that can help us glide with optimism and hope.  Dancers have an extraordinary way of making the dark light as do talent professionals a gift for improving process and magnifying the heart of learning. Tharp’s savvy ways of accentuating her strengths and delivering poise and beauty despite a rebuilt knee and re-framing age caused me to consider 4 active ways to implement smooth, steady steps contributing to career development.

  1. Plié in First Position – A plié is a slow bend and a foundational stance. Fortify your foundation by assessing your skills and your gaps. Bend towards these free resources for all ages continued online learning to learn more and still reduce contagion. From these resources, I am using Conjugemos on my commute to freshen my Spanish which will help my ability to impact learning for a broader population even amidst social distancing. Read here
  2. Let the Circle Be Not Broken – There is power in a circle, where all can be equal, contributing members of a goal. It is visually impactful for a group to dance in circular sync. Avoid actual connection and achieve communal benefits by experiment with videoconferencing. I am initiating a Mastermind with Zoom this week. A small group holding each other accountable can magic make.
  3. Skip to the Beat – Make a move in sync. The beat keeps the heart and dance moving. If it is not “on the beat”, perhaps it is less important. I am finding reason to prioritize my daily work and make choices that offer efficient solutions rather than meandering visions. I am designing a customer service training for leaders in my organization in three weeks. I am creating a contingency plan for an interactive session designed to provide job aids with relevant content and online options for a similar experience.
  4. Pirouette and Bow – A controlled spin can be a spark of delight especially when gratitude is the intent.  Everyone feels the chaos. The whirl and bustle are unavoidable but remember to look to the audience, find ways to uplift fellow learners and graciously offer help. Lend some “tp” both kinds, to those in need.