April 17, 2020

Thoughts by Joni Fedders, President of Aileron

Although highly unnatural, quarantine is starting to feel normal. Our team at Aileron has gotten in a virtual groove, my family has found ways to connect that don’t require physical togetherness, and my emotional rollercoaster is starting to level out. The past week has been a calming, unburdening, very deep, very needed breath. As life has normalized, it’s given me space to see beyond the immediate needs of the present and reflect on gratitude. I’d love to hear what you’re feeling thankful for during this time, too.

I’m grateful for the people on the front lines.

I think it’s important to state from the top that I’m writing this from the perspective of someone who is indirectly impacted. Like many of you, I’m working from my home and isolated from many of the people I love deeply. Though I’m feeling the impacts of the world around us, it’s impacting me in a much less direct way, which has made me so grateful for those on the front lines – for the woman who delivers groceries, for the ER nurse who puts his life at risk to care for patients, for those who must continue to work outside of the house and for everyone else who is giving us the ability to stay safe and distanced. My heart also goes out to those who have personally contracted COVID-19 or have family members who have as they navigate heartache, face very valid fears, and seek out care during this time.

I’m grateful for self-care.

Pre-crisis, self-care might have been perceived as a nice-to-have luxury – something reserved for those with the time and energy to pour back into themselves. But now, self-care is a survival mechanism. I’m glad to see myself and the people I love limiting our media intake to manage our fear. I’m thankful to see us saying “no” and shifting our priorities to prevent (or at least minimize) overwhelm. I’m happy to hear my team members asking each other about their mental health, and talking through their stresses and anxieties and joys together. I hope these healthy ways of caring for ourselves and others persist when the mayhem of normal life creeps back in.

I’m grateful for the lower expectations.

This time has given our team permission to fail, mostly because failure is now a prerequisite for daily life. Doing everything we’re “supposed” to do at the level we previously did is impossible – and with that has come a beautiful freedom to lower our expectations of ourselves and others. As I continue to evaluate whether my pre-pandemic expectations for myself were realistic in the first place, I hope I’ll be more self-compassionate and forgiving of myself and others when all is said and done.

I’m grateful for planting seeds.

Our team is learning at exponential speeds. Out of necessity, we’re constantly trying new things – Zoom happy hours, virtual learning, remote culture management, and more. Some of it is failing, and some of it is serving us better than our previous systems. I know we’ll continue to leverage many of our new processes and ways of working even when life is back to normal.

I’m grateful for consciousness.

All my conscious leadership training is serving me as I step back from my thoughts to examine how they’re manifesting as emotions and actions; simply reframing “the grocery store is out of everything my family usually eats” to “this is a time to experiment with new meals and ingredients” can transform mealtime. Perhaps less trivially, “I am cut off from family and friends,” which was my thought a few weeks ago, has morphed into “now is a time to get creative with how I express care to those I love.” I find peace and joy in the reframe.

If you’re in my boat and you’re curious about how to reframe this experience for yourself and your family, Aileron Leadership Coach Erika Alessandrini just released a video on How to Consciously Shift Your Energy. It includes the principles I fall back on when I’m feeling out of control. If you watch it, I hope you leave feeling empowered by the idea that no matter what uncontrollable forces go on around us, how we process it and react to them is always within our control.

Hear from more members of the Aileron team in these other journal-style posts:

  • “The Next Normal: Reopening Aileron’s Campus” by Sara Wiggershaus, Client Services Manager
  • “Creating a ‘We’ Culture During COVID-19” by Kristen Rhoads, People Engagement Manager
  • “Redefining Flexibility” by Joni Fedders, President
  • “Riding the Emotional Roller Coaster” by Joni Fedders, President