‘What have you learned about yourself during lockdown?’

We are 14 weeks into the 2020 UK lockdown due to the coronavirus, and I’ve been reflecting on some interviews I’ve conducted at this time. I’ve interviewed people about 15 people for four positions filling two roles, for Learning Designers and for Content Coordinators.

Apart from the interesting challenges of conducting interviews online, which I’ll write about another time, one of the questions I usually ask is a personal one around development or professional accomplishments, but for these lockdown interviews, I wanted to ask something relevant and interesting, something that would give the candidate the opportunity to show something of themselves to the interview panel, something more than aspects of their work experience or history.

It was this post, from Tom Huddleston Jr on CNBC, that made me think of writing this post and reflecting on how I would answer this same question … ‘What have you learned about yourself during lockdown?’

What I’ve learned is the power of the self and the power of the team. Corney it maybe, but both are important aspects of what has been happening to us during lockdown. If you are to rapidly shift your work habits, workload, relationships, and connections, then you need confidence in yourself and your team to engage in a meaningful manner that benefits everyone, not just you. Part of this is trust in your team, trust in your management structure and the individuals that are part of both, and to know that they have trust in you. If any aspects of that hierarchy falter or breaks, it can fall down leaving you second-guessing yourself or your colleagues.

When you’re in a position where others look to you for leadership and resilience in uncertain times you need to be both confident and humble. If you don’t know what’s going on you need to own it and be honest about it … people can smell the BS a mile away. Whether it’s information about resourcing and workload management or about when offices may re-open if you don’t know the answer yet then be honest and include your colleagues on the how you find the answer, thereby empower them as part of the answer not part of the question.

I’ve learned that no matter how busy I’ve been I need to give myself time for me, to be me, and to unplug. I’ve been lucky in that my work has gone from strength to strength, never wanting nor needing things to do, and meetings to attend. I know not everyone has been so fortunate, some are furloughed or have been made redundant, I hope their fortune changes really soon. Working remotely has never been a problem for me, I like it, and now the whole organisation is in the same remote working pattern, it’s forcing us all to put the effort in to make it work. But it means the meetings I’d usually have face to face are now online, so I never get that break from the screen in front of me. From 8AM to 6PM or later (lunch is often a quick snack) my eyes are fixed on the screen … an email, a Teams chat or video call, a report or spreadsheet, writing or reading documents, etc. By bedtime my eyes hurt, my eyesight blurred and unfocused and I can’t watch TV or read a book.

What else have I learned? I’ve learned I worry far more than I ever thought I did. I’m learning to compartmentalise the things I can control, the things I can’t control but can influence, and the things I can directly influence or control. Its hard and never a consistent result, but re-reading Mark Manson’s book recently helped me here again.

What about you … ‘What have you learned about yourself during lockdown?’

  • This reflection is the 21st entry in my ‘what is a learning technologist?’ series. All posts currently part of the ‘What is a Learning Technologist?’ series can be found here. Whilst I’m not drectly an LT or LD any more, I continue this thread and series of posts as it charters my journey through the role and various promotions and organisations.

[Photo by Daniel McCullough on Unsplash]