Eleanor Brownn, the inspirational writer, gave us the now popular expression “you cannot serve from an empty vessel” to champion me-time for replenishment.

The more jaded among us might prefer, “Put your oxygen mask on first, “given the last 12 months.

Choose your metaphor, but the idea of taking care of yourself–whether you’re a leader or team member–is especially important as we approach a full year of pandemic shutdowns, remote working and concern for our loved ones.

empty vessels

This is a good time to work on soft skills and continuous learning. Yet what we saw at the beginning of the pandemic was businesses sidetracking training and development. Understandable, but not far sighted. When you table development, in long term you are not going to meet business objectives.

It’s a tough call, though and we went through it with a major development program last March, but it emptied everyone’s vessel.

At the first shut down we were in the middle of one of our Women in Leadership programs and we could all see it would be  months before we could restart the program.

Yet, we had begun to really bond with one another and treat each other as allies and confidantes–a major objective of Women in Leadership.

Suddenly, all those articles about how we need to get up to speed with online learning became painful reminders that most of us simply were not up to speed.

Teachers became learners. We scaled and revised the program for a remote perspective. We got innovative hosting Zoom happy hours with the Women in Leadership cadre and even created virtual office hours. I made myself available to participants to talk through struggles. In a program that aims to establish connection among women, we couldn’t stop meeting.

We–Jamesson Solutions and the group–pitched in to adjust because nobody wanted to lose their momentum. Feedback and coaching can still be very effective remotely. In fact, even in normal times, many coaches do most of their client work by phone our video conference.

Fast forward to six months later and we just graduated that team this month. It was as strong a cohort as the programs we did in person.

What started as stop-gap measures, morphed into a fully functionally online program! We couldn’t have done it without the Women in Leadership women; they were motivated by the relationships established in the program and by the connections they were building across all levels of their organization.

In March we’ll be a year into the pandemic, but this time around our vessels won’t be empty.