Chair’s Corner: Accelerate Out of the Curve

By Michele Curry, Commerce Bank, Women’s Network Chair

If you’re like me, I’ve learned A LOT about myself during the pandemic. I was forced to sit with myself, understand my quirks and anxieties, and learn what I’d been hiding or denying about myself by way of a busy schedule. We had to slam on the breaks last year, and I invite you to join me as we accelerate out of the curve. Here’s what that means…

When I was learning to drive, my mother took me to an empty parking lot and taught me which pedal was which, how to park between the lines, and that when taking a turn you apply the break on your way into the curve and accelerate out of the curve so you can master the turn with the right momentum.

This metaphor equates to the pandemic. When everything shut down last year, the world slammed on the breaks and we had to stop what we were doing: we had to work from home, help our children learn virtually, stop seeing our friends and family for safety. Everything changed all at once and we had to adapt to it very quickly. It was UNCOMFORTABLE. Flash forward to a year later and the world is starting to open again, so we throw our hands in the air to celebrate the ‘return to normalcy’! We get to hug our families and go to restaurants again!

While celebrations are appropriate and overdue, I’d like to encourage us to take this time to zone our focus on our ability to accelerate out of this curve. Over the last year:

  • How has your work-life balance changed?
  • What do you appreciate about your life once you stripped it back to basics?
  • What flexibility do you need in your personal and professional life and how do you maintain that flexibility?
  • How are you going to be strategic in your life planning as you accelerate out of this curve?

If we go back to the way things were before, we lose the hard-earned progress we’ve made as humans. Or if you venture out without a plan of what you want your ‘new normal’ to look like, then you lose your control over the building process. You miss out on the opportunity to move your life forward on your terms.

One way I suggest you accelerate yourself into your new future is by reflecting on the takeaways from the pandemic and applying them to create a future self you’re satisfied with. For example, I was personally able to get a lot of responsibilities off my plate because events were literally not happening during the pandemic, and I learned how incredibly valuable my time is to me. Knowing this, as I built my new normal, I will critically evaluate opportunities as they come my way, asking, “is this the most valuable use my time?” or as an homage to Krista Kippenberger, Chair of the Women’s Network 2019-2020, “is this my BEST YES?”

While you consider your new future, I encourage you to:

  • Learn how to say ‘no’.
  • Choose your BEST yes.
  • Accelerate out of the curve by applying what you learned about yourself during the pandemic to become the person YOU want to be.

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