If you don’t like what’s happening in your life, change your mind.
~ Dalai Lama
Friend and colleague, Susan Poulin, produced a sweet video--The Coronavirus Shuffle--when the C-Virus first started making itself known here in NH and Maine. Susan's an author, playwright, and performance artist aka her wise and funny alter ego, Ida LeClair from Mahoosuc Mills, ME. In the video Susan/Ida reminds us what we should do to stay safe, while singing, dancing, and gesturing phrases like: "Wash your hands!" and "Wave to your neighbor!" and "Not too close! Not too close!" It's a hoot, and you can watch it yourself here.
Ida would be happy to know how often I think of her when I'm washing my hands, waving at a neighbor, or when I've wanted to respond to a close shopper or runner the way she does: "Not too close! Not too close!" Instead, I laugh at myself and regain my center.
There is plenty about this new virus that doesn't make me smile, of course, at least not at first. One of the changes I've had to make, for example, is moving most of my in-person training (workshops, presentations, one-on-one coaching) to an online format. What?! Aikido movements on Zoom? How could that possibly work?
For 27 years I've been working face to face with people, making connections between the martial art aikido, conflict transformation, and communication skills. I do my work in training rooms, conference centers, and martial arts schools. I teach people how to execute basic aikido techniques and apply the kinesthetic learning to the difficult moments in their lives.
There's no way I could do what I do virtually--I used to think. Which is why I would never have considered "virtual aikido" before Covid turned the tables on us. Distance learning in aikido? Seriously? No way.
But then--Wait a minute! What if? Huh!
New Normal, New World
And I gradually began dipping my toe into the world of virtual training and coaching, finding it not only works well but has its own unique benefits for my clients. Just a few happy surprises:
- Some things are easier and more fun when you're by yourself. With no one in the immediate vicinity watching, I notice participants are more game to try things when they don't have to "get it right." They can goof up on which foot goes where and in what direction to move. The privacy and physical anonymity of their own space is liberating, leveling, and inclusive. It reduces comparison.
- Friends are good partners. If they feel like it, participants can partner with someone in their "safety bubble" at home or at the office, and have someone to practice with when the workshop or coaching session ends.
- Small groups invite learning. With technology developing daily, more and more ways exist to quickly break large online gatherings into smaller learning and practice groups, and to foster inter- and intra-group interaction.
I'm paraphrasing a quote I saw online: the reason we resist change is because "we focus on what we have to give up instead of what we have to gain." I was definitely doing this until I was forced into this new Covid normal. Even though we haven't really settled into what our new normal may be, and we may not for a while yet, I'm learning a lot from the temporary normal.
I hope and trust that one day we will all be back in the classroom or conference room again. It's fun there, too. And yet... I'm learning there's a future in online training that I'll continue to enjoy even when those spaces open up again.
Meanwhile, like Ida's Coronavirus Shuffle, maybe there are some positive moves I can make that I've never tried before.
What ways are you finding to do your work that you hadn't planned on but that are turning out to have some unique benefits? Please comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, as promised, a few positive links to encourage, uplift, and promote optimism:
- A great story about Saturday Night Live star Michael Che who paid the rent for all of the 160 residents at his grandmother's apartment building in NYC after she died from the virus.
- And don't forget to watch the most recent episode of John Krasinski's Some Good News!