March 1 marks my personal one year anniversary of my entry into this crazy “new normal” world we are in. A year ago, I was in Seattle mask free, presenting the Skagit Valley College BASAM program at a national conference to a live audience. I don’t need to describe what today looks like, as I think we know it only too well.
A year of the “new normal” has us all grappling with new experiences, emotions and stressors. The word zoom has entered our lexicon as a verb and a noun. It has also entered our lives as a perhaps unknowing cause of fatigue. Check out this article from Stanford University that talks about what leads to Zoom fatigue and how we can bring Zoom hygiene (my word, not the article’s) into our lives …
In the Skagit Valley BASAM program, we focus on change – change in the world, in our environments, in our relationships, in ourselves. We talk about how change is inevitable because by definition, tomorrow cannot be like today and today cannot be like yesterday. We grapple with ambiguity and with the daunting prospect of not knowing. Most importantly, we equip ourselves with the tools, resources and skills to adapt and flourish in an ever changing context.
One topic that is missing from our conversations is a list of reasons why we cannot or will not change. We don’t spend time talking about this because we know that each of us has the capacity to change and to adapt – if we didn’t, we wouldn’t be part of the BASAM program. So, when a friend shared this list from Fast Company of the common reasons that people say they cannot change, I breathed a sigh of relief. My relief comes from having full confidence that the words on this list are unlikely ever to be said by BASAM program people because just like the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, BASAM people know that “there is nothing permanent except change”.
Today is Diwali, one of the most important days in the year for people from India. There are many ways to mark the day, as this piece explains. Like almost all special occasions around the world, food features prominently, as does sending good wishes to those we care about. I suspect I am the only one in the SVC BASAM group who celebrates this day but I did want to take the opportunity to wish you all Happy Diwali and to share my hope that light and laughter fill in every corner of your lives!
It’s been a while since I posted and I will be posting more soon because I have lots to share about the Class of 2020 who just graduated and the Class of 2022, who started in the BASAM program this fall.
Before I get to that though, I wanted to share this piece that covers making effective arguments, which is a core platform of the BASAM program. This timely article from the Aspen Institute discusses the ingredients of “better arguments”, those that seek to understand, not to convince. The article describes the secret sauce behind effective arguments and discusses the benefits of approaching dialogue from the perspective of learning and curiosity versus acrimony. I invite you to delve into this work and then to imagine the possibilities if we all approached conflict with a curious mindset.
I recently came across this fascinating article from Fast Company entitled “Thirty is the New Fifty”. The articlethat talks about an increasingly common rite of passage, the day you find yourself working for someone younger than you. Given the country’s demographic profile and social-economic and technological trends, this upending of historic age-based hierarchies is the new reality.
It happened to me for the first time just two years ago and while there was the initial shock of realizing I was old enough to be older than someone (if you follow my drift), this evaporated almost instantly. Instead, I feel blessed that I’m working for my favorite type of boss – the one that gives you all the rope to hang yourself but is right by your side to cut it down just before it’s too late. As I read this piece, I realized that not only was I fortunate to be working with Darren Greeno, Executive Dean of Workforce at Skagit Valley College but I was also blessed to see many of the best practices of inter-generational cooperation, friendship and community cited in the article truly alive in the BAS-AM program.
The age range in the program goes from “just turned 21 and celebrated in Las Vegas” to folks with more life experience. Daily, I watch how the program participants embrace the points raised in this article – those with “digital dexterity” support those who are relative novices. And folks with more life experience coach newer workforce entrants on things such as interview techniques, navigating the art of balance and coping with imbalance. I’ve had my program participants coach me on the finer points of bands whose names I can’t pronounce, smile indulgently when I refer to flash drives as floppy discs and listen intently when we enter into lessons learned from actual workplace experiences. It is a wonderful thing when the sum of the parts become greater than the whole. It’s wonderful thing when you experience yet another way the BAS-AM program is enabling all of us to be effective participants in the workforce and life long learners who seize every opportunity for growth.
It is my privilege and my joy to present the Skagit Valley College BAS in Applied Management Class of 2020.
Over the last two years, we have laughed, we have learned, we have cried, we have celebrated, we debated, sometimes we argued (but always with respect and always from an evidence-based point of view). We’ve watched our members thrive and we’ve supported each other through our struggles. We’ve witnessed engagements (3), welcomed new family members (1), and high-fived new jobs (6). Above all, we became a community with connections, friendships and associations embedded in the shared experience of being the inaugural cohort of the program.
This group of people are among the most honorable that I’ve had the pleasure to know and I am proud of their accomplishments and their achievements. I know that for each one of them, the future is so bright, they will all need to wear shades – you got this Class of 2020, you got it!
It has taken me a while to write with regards to the national public uprising and dialog around systemic racism that has been going on. The silence is mainly because I have been processing my own thoughts around these complex and multi-faceted issues. In all candor, I haven’t known what to say or how to express the many emotions I have been feeling.
I am now at a point where I feel ready to talk with others on this topic. But, I have no answers, only questions, with two main thoughts have been bubbling through my mind
The first is that it is my opinion that we have to put the conversation around racial equity and justice into historical perspective. As the image below shows, the period in which Black Americans lived in servitude and experienced legal segregation dwarfs the time that they have not.
Given this, don’t we have a social justice obligation to support our fellow citizens with equity-related initiatives so that the opportunity for equality can become a reality?
The second is that if we believe that equity means meeting and supporting people where they are at, shouldn’t we be respecting people’s decisions to participate in this movement in whatever way they each see fit? The image below shows the different ways that people are acting on the imperative for social justice and it spoke to me.
It is my hope that however you choose to participate, you do so from a way that feels right for you and that recognizes the critical need for every person in society to have the support they need and deserve for success. This tenet is the foundational platform for the Skagit Valley College Bachelor in Management program whose participants give me cause for hope.
“Emotionally Drained” is the title of this great article I just came across from the HarvardBusiness Review. The article shares some common sense and practical solutions on how to recharge and to persevere in the face of the turbulent times the world and each of us are facing.
When I find myself getting close to empty, I turn to my program participants for motivation. One encounter via Zoom, Slack, text or Facebook is all it takes to rejuvenate and keep going. Thank you Skagit Valley BASAM – because of you, I’ve got this!
Here’s an insightful blog from Medium, which discusses how each of us are experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic in our own ways. I appreciated how the author acknowledges that many of us just don’t have the bandwidth, the interest, the capability, the resources, the whatever to learn a new skill, bake daily, train for a marathon etc.
I also appreciated that the author acknowledges that for so many, survival is the main accomplishment.
Whichever way they are experiencing the pandemic, I am filled with immense pride when I think of every BASAM program member. 23 of them are weeks away from graduating with their bachelor degree, 20 of them are weeks away from finishing the third year of the degree. Another 27 are months away from starting this journey! To all, the heartiest of bravos – you’ve got this!
Check out this article from the New York Times that shares some great perspective on how to keep motivated and get unstuck when world events make you feel like crawling under a rock. I found it helpful in finding my mojo again – what about you? What is helping you get unstuck?