Michael J. Readinger

Are you ready to re-open? Whether you are or not, my advice to you is to Be Open to whatever possibilities there might be. As we move to the next phase of our response to the changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has cast on our world, I invite you to:

  • Be Open to an understanding that we are not necessarily venturing into the “new normal” as much as we are exploring what is the “Now Normal.”
  • Be Open to abandoning everything you knew before.
  • Be Open to knowing that you do not know what you do not know!
  • Be Open to listening to others and gathering facts as you move forward in making those key decisions that impact your family, friends, clients, teammates and yourself!  Use all the resources you have at your disposal to make your choices and decisions and be ready to stick with the good ideas and revise those that do not work as well as you thought!
  • Be Open to the fact that you will need to defend the decisions you make from those who will criticize your choices, your reasoning and your logic.  Each and every one of us, individuals and corporations alike, will enter into recovering from and adapting to the pandemic in unique ways. The manner in which we do so will be alternately praised and criticized.

Here is what I think we can count on as we enter this era of the “Now Normal”:

We are about to emerge into a world where it will be impossible to be sure of what to expect. Any attempts at forecasting, projecting, or budgeting will be more guessing than anything else. The Zoom meetings and teleconferences will never be the same as our face-to-face gatherings. Our new way of holding in-person events will not replace or fulfill us as they have for the last few years. Our membership’s needs are going to become more dynamic than ever and will continue to evolve for some time. The way we function as an association will be affected by all these changes and we will need to be more flexible than ever.

The only certainty we should anticipate is the need to Be Open. We may not be able to determine the correct way to do things and we may make decisions that are imperfect. Understand that every person, every non-profit, every business, and every government agency is operating in the same environment. So, Be Open to a gracious space of accepting the possibility that nobody has the right answer, solution or picture of what the future holds.

Instead of assuming you know what will happen, Be Open to the practice of asking your members what they need — not just today but in the years ahead. Likewise, ask the same questions of all of your constituents. Then, be prepared to respond in new, innovative or unusual ways. In other words, the “Now Normal” dictates that we should Be Open to the exploration of what the future might hold rather than the assumption that we already have all the answers.