Many of our long-lived cherished customs died suddenly with the Corona Virus just eight months ago.
Gone is the traditional handshake—maybe forever.
It’s kind of sad, because I had a terrible time learning the proper technique to shake hands in my early career.
I heard whole lectures about the bone crushing hand shakers who could do permanent damage with their shattering grips on victims—who weren’t even allowed to scream given our social norms. Then there was the limp dishrag hand shakers, almost as bad, that set you apart as the biggest wimp on the Planet.
The handshake, a custom since the Middle Ages, has always been a major target of the germophobic. The germophobic always wants to know how well you’ve washed your hands, and yes, inevitably, where has that hand really been that you’re extending to me with the assumption I’m really going to shake it?
So should we reinvent the way we greet each other? Obviously during the pandemic, it’s more than difficult to shake hands on a Zoom conference. In my infrequent face-to-face meetings I’m having right now, I’m doing the lame hand wave or the uncertain elbow bump.
As a substitute for the handshake I’d like the nominate the classic Star Trek, Leonard Nimoy, Mr. Spock, Vulcan greeting,
“Live Long and Prosper!”
“Live Long and Prosper!” is a greeting adapted from an old Jewish traditional prayer blessing, and I find it very comforting in times like these. It gives me a feeling of optimism, energy, and tells me that life goes on.
So let me be the first to use this reinvented phrase and say to you, “ Live Long and Prosper!”
But is this greeting a bit too much in the middle of a world pandemic? My answer is, “Yes, it’s whole appropriate!” Our traditional handshake came into use as people shook hands with each other to show they didn’t have a dagger hidden in their palm ready to strike. So something more positive is appropriate. So “Live Long and Prosper!”
Reinventing the way we live our lives and careers is just a small starting point. Every day when we begin our day, we’re reminded of a lifestyle we couldn’t have imagined eights months ago. We are only beginning. What we’re seeing is a greater fundamental revolution in how we will be living our lives than any previous time in history.
Here are 3 points that are fundamental to navigating the “new normal.”
- Most things changed by the pandemic would have changed anyway—they just happened a lot faster. Making the transition from working in office space to working at home would have happened anyway—what would have taken a decade or two has happened in a few months.
- The “Old Normal” is gone—we’ll never return to the way things were. Most of us hate the restrictions in the way we live and can’t wait for the day we can interact freely with colleagues, friends and families.
At the same time, working from home affords us huge advantages. Companies will save great amounts in office space. Employees tell us they love what they are saving in terms of commuting and numerous other personal expenditures. Overall productivity has been negatively impacted in some cases by not being able to interact face-to-face, and we will see a hybrid of in-office and at-home work. We will, however, never return to the way we worked before.
- We will all continue to be more cautious about contact with each other. In Asia a third of people always wear masks regardless, as a normal precaution. We’ll continue to see evaluations of health risks with contact, and we’ll be wary of company gatherings and mass events. We will continue to demand higher standards of personal and public cleanliness.
So in what ways are we seeing the reinvention of business and personal life, from the way we greet each other, to how we work with each other, to how we say goodbye. What is the “new normal” beginning to look like?
We are witnessing the effective rise of the virtual event. Many of us spend a great time each week on Zoom or some other video platform. The question is how do we reinvent our online interactions and make online meetings as good our better than in person? The creativity in this area is astounding. Our company, Delta Associates, is aligning teams to work together like virtual soccer teams—everyone is focused on the goal and knows their place in moving the ball down the field.
Non-profits are thriving through virtual events. The reach of local and regional non-profits has always been limited by geography, and now their reach is worldwide. Our non-profit, the Dream Come True Foundation, has a new relationship with our Dream Achievers, board, and donors. No matter where we are, we can be effective. We are pioneering our first virtual Gala on October 15th, and we’re having everything from auctions to a photo booth. People are hungry to get together online.
Personal growth is thriving in a virtual setting. We never got the chance perhaps to be a Rockstar in a stadium, but instead of commanding the stadium with thousands of fans, we can command the screen with our own show. People make all sorts of jokes about the lack of need for pants in the meetings of today, but I find Zoom one of the best personal growth tools of my life.
I was always aware that sometimes I scowl in meetings, and at other times I check out. Having an image of how I’m looking, feeling, and reacting in a meeting is invaluable. Also being able to project my best self and know when I’m doing it has been very gratifying. I have bolstered my confidence in how I project in meetings. People are learning new skills and mastering new hobbies like never before with abundant online resources to aid their growth. Whether they are working out with Peloton, learning to play the guitar or speak French or becoming a master baker, people are growing and learning at an accelerated rate.
Careers are on the rise virtually during the global pandemic. Certainly there are industries that cannot survive during a shelter in place pandemic, but the numbers of entrepreneurs who are raising money and making sales is amazing. Companies are hiring people they have never met in person. Productive employees who can achieve organizational goals are extremely valued. New businesses based on online needs are thriving. We hear tragic stories of businesses that are closing their doors forever, but many of our clients are experiencing spectacular growth.
Many of the things that seem to be hugely negative will turn out to be positive. Many families will be stronger and parents and students are freed from the daily taxi service of shuttling children from one activity to another. Education from elementary schools to universities have needed to be reinvented for decades. Government will learn to deliver services in new ways.
The future is now, and it’s not what we expected. Almost everything from the handshake to human relationships must be reinvented. In the ashes of pandemic death can be born a new day, and we can be part of reinventing it.