Tenacity is defined as “the quality or fact of being very determined” or “the quality or fact of continuing to exist; persistence”. I would argue that tenacity is the word for 2020. Observing the responses among the people around me has been interesting this year. I tend to exhibit a more Darwinian approach to life and subscribe to the theory of “adapt or die”. Change does not bother me, in fact, I find it very rejuvenating. I do not believe we will just “go back to normal” any time soon. I don’t say this in a negative way either. I contemplate how I can best prepare myself and my family for a different life on the “other side”.
The speedy vaccines are such great news. Getting people vaccinated safely and quickly will have a great impact on helping schools and businesses move forward. But, will they ever be the same? Our local high school made significant structural changes to the school – some that were already planned, and more in response to the pandemic. I recently spoke with a counselor at a local Catholic school that has done the same. They have also taken down many walls and completely redone their filtration systems. Businesses are seeing that having employees work from home is still productive and can save them a ton of money in overhead. Open floor plans for collaboration are likely a thing of the past. There are industries that will take a long time to return; if ever.
I am not saying this to be a downer or overly pessimistic. I am saying this because I find it incredibly fascinating to watch pieces of the world change in double time. The entire college admissions process has been turned on its head. ACTs and SATs have been cancelled left and right. Students are in school or not in school making campus visits and planning with high school counselors even more challenging. Phrases such as “test optional”, “test blind”, and “test flexible” are now being thrown around. More students are taking gap years. And in places where colleges required them to submit a standardized test score with their application? These colleges saw an average of a 50% reduction in applicants. (At this time the state of Florida is the only state that required tests this year for its state schools.)
Whether we like it or not, the world is changing. The people that are gripping so tightly to the past are likely very unhappy right now, and will likely be unhappy for awhile. Industries such as travel, hospitality, and food service are going to take a long time to return. There are so many small bars and restaurants that may never come back. As I mentioned in another post, I have completely shifted my yoga online to a studio from my hometown 330 miles away. I could have never done this pre-pandemic, and although vastly different, I am finding a new joy in this connection and ability to meet new people and expand my world.
As part of my work, I spend a lot of time evaluating growth. What markets need us and want us? How does our pre-pandemic model need to be shifted to meet the current demands, and how can we also develop a business model that can evolve into what will be here in 6 months and 12 months? This is evolution at its finest – it is just rare that it moves so quickly that we get to see it in action before our eyes. I worry people that do not see the necessity in being flexible about these changes. So many people were holding on to the bottom rung of the economic ladder as it was – what space will me make for them in our new economy?
Our government is another place that doesn’t seem to understand that our country is evolving at lightening speed right now. Our government moves at a turtle’s pace on the best day, so dealing with testing, vaccines, and getting money to people and businesses has proved to be almost insurmountable for both federal and local legislatures. Do we have everything we need as a country? Absolutely. Are we very good at making sure it gets where it needs to go? Not at all. Why is this? I would argue two main reasons. One, we don’t have any sort of organized infrastructure for much of anything to help with allocation of resources and distribution. This has made the entire year an incredibly costly venture because we have to create the supplies and create the supply pathways. Two, we are Americans. Appropriate allocation of resources means we need to share.
I talk about tenacity with my children all the time. I make sure they realize that “normal” as they knew it might be a long way off, and by the time it arrives again we may not even recognize it. They know that everything (school, work, sports, art, etc.) will likely never be the same, so we need to find a way to evolve with the changes. I found my yoga. My son has options to dance in person and online. My daughter can skate a bit for hockey, but also started playing golf. She got a part time job. My son is part of a support group at his school that meets online to discuss stress and life changes. My daughter took driver’s education in goggles, a mask, and latex gloves with just an instructor and a fellow student in the car also dressed in PPE. These are strange times, and we find a lot of laughter.
Tenacity…continuing to exist, determination, persistence. Adapt.