Thrive: Where Are We Now?
It’s been 6 weeks. Six weeks since we had an open gym full of toddlers and preschoolers running out their energy with giggles galore. Six weeks since we had our gym packed with learning, laughter, and enthusiasm. Six weeks since our team gymnasts were told their season was unexpectedly over. Six weeks since our teaching team was together, whole, and happy. It’s been a long six weeks.
There is something about a crisis that shows the true colors of a team. Will we fight or will we crumble? Will we band together or will we blame each other? The certainty of tomorrow became entirely uncertain, and that has the ability to bring out the best in a team. Or totally dismantle it.
I have learned a lot in these last six weeks, but this crisis has shown me the strength of our Thrive leadership team.
On March 12th, when COVID-19 was still fairly new to the non-medical world, our leadership team met to discuss how we would handle the possibility of a two week shutdown in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus. At the time, two weeks seemed like an eternity, a true hurdle to overcome. We talked, we strategized and we made a plan A and a plan B. We left the meeting feeling confident and prepared. We were sure that if schools decided to close, we at least had a plan.
Forty-five minutes later, schools announced they were closing for two weeks. Seventy-two hours later, the Governor issued the order to close all gyms, bars, and restaurants in Maryland. That meant us. We were ordered to shut down. It was no longer our choice, our plan, or in our control. No kids in the gym, no classes to teach, and no idea when we would be allowed to re-open. This was our moment. This was our test. What do coaches do when they are physically unable to do what they love in the buildings they call home?
First, we cried. Then, we pinched ourselves to make sure we weren’t having a bad dream. Finally, we dug deep. We asked ourselves what we truly believed about ourselves. Our team is centered on nine core values that have become a part of our gym DNA. They describe who we are and who we strive to be. We love to live our values in the best of times, but what about in the worst? We had never been tested like this before. We had never had our backs up against a wall and an uncertain future staring us in the face. Do we really believe that nothing is impossible? Are we truly the kind of people that are constantly evolving?
Exactly one week after the Governor issued the order to close our physical facilities, our team got on a Zoom call. This was the newest quarantine skill we had almost mastered. We had a choice to make. We were coaches who were used to teaching in-person, hands-on with a ton of equipment. Could we become tech savvy, video ready coaches who could teach, progress, and entertain our students online so that we could stay connected to our students we loved so much?
We went over the plan, each team member took their share of the load, and we were off and running. We began setting up test classes, creating lesson plans, and filming ourselves teaching. We learned how to do Facebook LIVE, we built an online database of classes, and we decoded the technological world of video editing. Each team member worked with focused energy around the clock. Schedules were made, e-mails were sent, and home studios were set up. It was a project of grand scale that normally would have taken 6 months to launch. Exactly 9 days after that initial zoom call, we had a fully functional on-demand library of classes for each of our programs and a 20 class schedule of live Zoom classes to serve our families. Thrive Online was out in the world serving our families and connecting our kids to a piece of their pre-quarantine lives.
From that point on, there wasn’t anything we couldn’t figure out. We realized that nothing was truly impossible. We realized that we had grit and we were capable of doing hard things. We had never been tested to that degree before, and when the chips were down our team came together instead of falling apart. That isn’t to say there weren’t problems. We didn’t sit around and sing a socially distanced version of kubiaya. There were problems. We had miscommunications, scheduling errors, computers that quit on us, botched videos, and other obstacles to overcome. The difference now was that we knew how capable we were. We had been reminded that we could, in fact, do hard things, and so we rediscovered our resilient spirit.
It isn’t just us. I see examples of this throughout our community. I see restaurants that have gotten creative and began selling groceries. I see families doing car parades to celebrate birthdays. I see neighbors dropping goodies on doorsteps to brighten spirits. I see friends dusting off old sewing machines to help with the mask shortage. All across this community, I see the good coming out of all the challenges. I see the struggle, and I see the beauty. Life is a mix of both good and bad. Our job is to be okay with that reality and make sure that we honor both.
This story is not over. We still have weeks, maybe months, ahead that will stretch us, challenge us, and occasionally bring us to our knees. We know that our outcome is determined by how we choose to face things. We know we have the ability to fight whatever comes our way. We will choose to come out on the other side more united. Stronger than ever. We will continue to Thrive.