“The Great Awkward.”

I stopped and clicked quickly on this title while scanning through researcher and storyteller Brené Brown’s “Dare to Lead” podcast list the other day. She and her sister Barrett Guillen, who work together, shared raw and honest reflections on leading their team remotely in the pandemic. Please listen to the enlightening and often hilarious podcast to learn more. Suffice it to say they had at least three attempts at coming back to the office thwarted by new COVID-19 variants. They learned a TON about what they could and could not do with their team remotely. They also will permanently adopt practices that are better for staff who have already been working remotely.

The vulnerability with which they share about their pandemic ups and downs beautifully demonstrate one of my core values: courage. They showed courage in being willing to share their many failures and foibles. They are also courageously moving through a terrible time without slipping back into the ways things had been done before, just for the sake of comfort. They are open about the fact that they will make mistakes and admit them when they happen. They stay in regular touch with their team to get their guidance on how to move forward.

If you work on an office or volunteer team, you may be braving through this remote/hybrid/in-person world, which will likely make your team frustrated, upset or even pissed off at you. And that’s OK.

Office teams aren’t the only ones moving through this “Great Awkward.” Teachers returning to  classrooms can apply learnings from a remote or hybrid system that may have worked better for some students, while also being acutely aware of where it fails others. Teachers may make decisions to retain some of those online learning tools that piss off parents or their students in order to serve other students better in this process. And that’s OK.

Families may be feeling this “Great Awkward” as well. Maybe you are DONE with the hectic schedule you kept before the pandemic. Maybe you want to make a schedule that actually allows for rest without having the COVID excuse to back you up. You may want to start taking a weekly screen-free day known as a Tech Shabbat like Tiffany Shlain suggests in her book, 24/6: Giving up Screens One Day a Week to Get More Time, Creativity and Connection. (I just finished reading this book, and it is SO useful and will move you to tears. Highly recommend!) As you take on this change, there will be fits and starts and awkwardness. And that’s OK.

Having courage means having a soft front but also a strong back, as Buddhist teacher Roshi Joan Halifax has taught. The soft front means being open to new ideas, learnings and even criticisms. It means listening with your whole body, mind and heart to how people are feeling. Also having a strong back means holding up in the face of resistance when change needs to happen for the right reasons.

Some people might bemoan having a remote meeting even though several people are together in person in an office in order to better include those who remain working remotely. If you do take the screens away for a day, you may piss off your kids who see the practice as a punishment rather than a gift of rest (as Shlain’s own daughter did at first). If you experiment with online teaching tools that fail, some people will get impatient and frustrated.

Say it with me, “Some people might get pissed off. And, that’s OK.”

Transitions are my jam. If you need help keeping up your courage to rebuild your team, family, classroom or friend group, I have lots of resources for you: