Most of the U.S. went on lockdown in mid-March and ever since things have been chaotic, to say the least. Entire families and businesses have been turned upside-down. Kids are learning from home. Parents are working from home, yet are somehow supposed to be taking care of the kids too. Almost daily another major business files for bankruptcy or even closes its doors all together. The present is unsettling and the future is unknown. The experts keep telling us to pivot: But what does the mean? Pivot how? And in which direction?
For me, the March lockdown coincided with my wife going on bedrest. At 29 weeks pregnant her doctor reported our baby was really, really low, and we needed to do whatever we could to keep her in there as long as possible! In the blink of an eye my job shifted to taking care of mom and a high-energy toddler full-time. With all live comedy and speaking performances canceled for the immediate future due to the pandemic, it wasn't difficult to shut things down and focus entirely on my family. It's now been five months since the country went on lockdown, and three months since the birth of our healthy baby girl, and in that time I've witnessed some incredible things.
In all kinds of ways, people are stepping up. Comedians are performing live comedy from their living rooms, teachers are zooming density lessons from their backyard pool, doctors are seeing patients out of the trunks of cars, restaurants are converting parking lots into outdoor dining, and auctioneers are raising money for important causes through virtual events. There's no playbook for a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. All of us are touched by it and none of us have done it before. Still, people are doing the best they can for their students, clients, patients and communities. People are committed to figuring things out and it's inspiring to watch. Everything is figure-outable. Little by little. Day by day. It might not be easy, and it's way different than what we were planning, but we're gonna figure this thing out. Even if it means we have to wing it.
I typically spend August and September visiting schools and districts across the country helping motivate staff for the new school year. With most schools online right now and the gathering of large groups of people out of the question, I’m now forced to give speeches from home. Last week I recorded a keynote presentation from my two year old's bedroom, speaking to a camera, with my son knocking on the door. How do you tell stories and jokes to a camera with no feedback? Do you laugh at your own jokes? Do you smile or wink at the camera? Frankly, I have no idea. And why my sons bedroom? Well, we felt it was the best room in the house for lighting and sound. And at two he didn’t have a vote in the matter. At least not until he realized dad had taken over his room and he started pounding on the door. How’d it turn out? Honestly, I’m not sure. As I write this I’m still waiting to hear from the school district that showed it to their teachers today. All I know is the day I recorded it, it was 96 degrees out, and I had to turn our noisy air conditioning off while recording. By the end of the speech I had sweat running down my face just like I do during an in-person event. At least I was authentic.
Nobody knows exactly what they’re doing but they’re giving it a go. They’re putting their heads down, leaning in and playing the game. We're all in this together. Let's make it work. It's your turn. Batter's up!