Challenging times provide us with opportunities to reflect and prioritize what is truly important in life—family, loved ones and good health. We pray for those affected and for prevention. Although I am the CEO of Palm Beach Symphony, sports activities are an important part of my life, and those experiences influence how I approach other aspects of my life. In sports, you quickly learn to adapt whether it is adjusting to a surprise curve ball from a baseball pitcher or as a quarterback calling an audible when he sees something concerning with the defense. Business and personal life are no different. We must learn how to pivot, adapt become entrepreneurial and innovate.
Pivot: A successful pivot requires planting one foot on something solid and moving the other to change direction. In the disruption of crisis, an unwavering commitment to core values and cultural behaviors creates an island of certainty that facilitates more fluid action relating to strategy and tactics. Similarly, tacking is a sailing maneuver by which a sailing vessel, whose desired course is into the wind, turns its bow toward the wind so that the direction from which the wind blows changes from one side to the other, allowing progress in the desired direction.
Adapt: Crises evolve over time, especially long-duration events such as an COVID-19. Organizations and their leaders must execute a series of pivots as the facts on the ground and their operations shift.
Resilience: While many play defense during a crisis, there is an opportunity to be aspirational as well when the adversity of the situation motivates your team to rise to its absolute best. Think about how you may all emerge from this incident stronger, more engaged and more capable than you were before. Creating such conditions calls leaders to reassure and encourage everyone throughout the organization that “we can do it” while also supporting them in success both at work and at home.
Innovate: Concert halls and classrooms have closed yet we continue to ensure we are sustaining the notes of our mission to engage educate, and entertain with online content featuring symphony musicians and members of the community during the shutdown. In a win-win, we were able to commission our musicians who cannot currently work and pay them to create instructional videos for students who can no longer participate in the school orchestra or personal coaching sessions. We added bench strength to our efforts to unify the community by creating a first-time collaboration with Ballet Palm Beach, Palm Beach Opera and Maltz Jupiter Theatre. The resulting video of Barry Manilow’s “One Voice” even scored with the composer when he posted the link on Facebook. By engaging our audience and supporters, we got everyone on the field as they created their own videos for us to share.
Change: There are many studies and debates about how many days it takes to form a good habit or break a bad one. My philosophy and experience have been it takes approximately 21 days to affect change. Therefore, as all of us have had to adjust during this national shutdown, I have focused on using the principles of pivoting and adaptation to create new conditional programming, behaviors and habits. We have all had to learn using technology to create connectivity similar in the work environment. While we are unable to physically go to our Palm Beach Symphony offices, like many others in America, we are utilizing video conferencing to personally connect with our team members, loved ones and friends.
Instead of going to the gym three or four days a week to exercise and lift weights, I have converted my garage into a makeshift gym and installed a pull-up bar in the doorway. It has also become my bikram yoga studio. It provides plenty of heat. I set up my yoga mat and watch how-to yoga videos on my computer. As a life-long surfer, it has been incredibly challenging not being able to get into the ocean to swim or surf. I was paddling in the intracoastal across from the Jupiter Lighthouse until the county was forced to close off all access to the intracoastal. Fortunately, I have been able to still bike and run, which has helped tremendously with getting some fresh air and sunlight during our lockdown.
As a young child, I grew up fishing on Lake Okeechobee with my father, and this has been a beautiful time to continue that tradition and go fishing with my nine-year-old. We have a couple of “secret spots,” and he out-fishes me each time. I have used this down time to enjoy going to some of the local lakes in and around Jupiter to bass fish. When spring training stopped, we fished with a couple of the St. Louis Cardinals players. I am pleased to say I won the Fishing Series.
My family decided to turn out back yard into an Olympic stadium. We play golf, skateboard, soccer, Slip 'N Slide and even camp out. But it is not all fun and games. Working from home and assisting my nine year-old son and 12-year-old daughter with their daily studies has been a challenge. Like any new experience, we all have struggled to adapt and learned to adjust. Now all their schoolwork is done online, I have become a class scheduler, teacher liaison, educational resource and IT department. I am also working from home and, as we have gained new insight into our respective responsibilities and activities, we have gained a new mutual respect. Yes, adults and children have stress and seemingly insurmountable workloads but also little daily victories that we can celebrate together.
During this time, I have reflected on what’s truly important in life and that is our health, safety and quality time with family and loved ones. My hearts goes out to those people that have been affected by this pandemic, and my deepest gratitude extends to the incredible, dedicated individuals around the world who are battling this virus, as well as the amazing people in the essential businesses and front line to ensure we have food and are safe.
While we may be stressed, frustrated and feeling confined with our shutdown, we must continue to create a positive paradigm of how fortunate we are to be safe and healthy. Remember, sometimes changes can create new forms of beauty. Diamonds? Gold? Certain flowers are stunted before growing, and we will flourish again, too.