Taking Care at Full Tilt

Deidre Paknad  ::  Strategy & Execution

Taking Care at Full Tilt

Over the past few months, we adjusted and accommodated shelter in place ... to less in person interaction, to video everything. We found new ways to engage with our extended families and with teammates. While I’m super proud of how we adapted and am thrilled with the huge wave under our business, I want to talk about adaptations that maybe haven’t worked so well or that we haven’t yet realized we need to make:

  1. Taking care and taking time for yourself
  2. Grace for others’ “compression”

To use a big surfing analogy, big wave riders take incredibly good care of themselves ... sleep, food, and all-around fitness. Part of it is readiness and performance, part is belief system. They also spend real time looking at the waves, watching how they roll and contemplating their essence. (I’ve been a Laird Hamilton fan forever and am fascinated by the woman who just rode the biggest wave ever at Navarre - 73.5 ft, but I digress.)

Let me be open that (my co-founder) Daryoush and I lead this by example, always have, and it’s crucial for us both – and perhaps we aren’t vocal enough about its importance to us. My asks — encouragement and invitation! — for you are to take time and take care of yourself:

  • Block regular time on your calendar for exercise or movement during the week, every week.
  • Block time on your calendar to think, absorb, and follow through during the week, every week.

For 20 years, Daryoush has exercised Tuesday-Friday morning at 8am for an hour (his weekend routine is 3 hours, he’s a results-oriented guy!). He ONLY compromises this time for Sev1 crises because it’s essential to his wellbeing and his ability to move through the long development day (that spans India and the US).

Running and yoga are my morning rituals. I also block 2 hours every morning for no-meeting zones to think, work, zoom out to the bigger pattern. I block the morning because I have given up the delusion that I can defer quality thinking time to after 9pm; I can do simple tasks then but not deep work. And I simply can’t do my job without time outside of meetings and I now know that meeting invitations will expand to fit all available openings on the calendar.... because they have become the way business mid-pandemic is conducted and the new physics of work are ever-expanding meetings. I hold the line on that time despite unending pressure to cannibalize it. If I feel that pressure, I assume many of you must, too.

That’s one thing we haven’t adapted to yet — that meetings are the new modality and they will fill every crevice of time. We now need to more actively and even preventively plan where our time goes. And that plan must include personal wellbeing and thinking. For many of you, “active time blocking” includes your school and kids - as it should and must. Active time blocking isn’t optional, it’s essential. Time is all we have to give, so take direct ownership of yours. Use it wisely, and wellbeing and thinking time are time well spent.

The second thing I want to ask of you, part of this adaptation we can enhance... is our compassion and curiosity for colleagues with whom we don’t have close connections. Underneath our over-zoomed days, the events of the last few weeks in the West and the last 6 months of isolation have started to grate on us, on our psyche — they’re heavy, hard, isolating and frustrating. It would be hard *not* to be edgy, fatigued, dizzy, and worn down by it all. We all feel this personally and experience it differently ... but my observation is that while we feel it individually, we may not extend grace to our less-close team mates that they also feel it, that they’re weighed down too and it affects how they show up. Not only don’t we have connections, we’re judging others who are “compressed” from our own compressed place. That leads us sometimes to judging faster and harsher than we otherwise might. We remember our own discomfort, but not that it’s felt almost universally.

Our opportunity to create connections beyond daily direct co-workers has been totally disrupted. What makes it easy for humans to build ambient understanding of each other - physical time together without doing work together - has been missing entirely for half a year. Thinner threads need more protection, and everyone needs more spaciousness and grace to show up both gnawed from the truth of things and with the potential to be awed and awe-inspiring.

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