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45 days's a lifetime ago..

Looking back can sometimes provide perspective of gigantic proportions. This image of me loving the opportunity to sit inside a jet engine that's housed within the brand new, gorgeous, AA corporate headquarters was taken just 45 days ago, on February 20, 2020, to be exact. The day was already symbolic with the 02/20/2020 date, right?

It was a very important day, even beyond the opportunity to tour this incredible, state-of-the-art facility, in that my tour guide, and my lunch partner, was my talented & gifted, MBA Alumnus, Arul Anand. When I say he is brilliant that is no exaggeration; in fact, understatement is closer to the truth. Arul leads a data analytics team that is a critical, valuable asset to organizations with gigantic data pouring in from a significant number of sources such as is true at AA. His team supports the executive leadership team, & those in crew scheduling, pricing & yield management to name just a few. In addition, they collect / analyze real time data from sources received in flight from flight attendants & pilots in order to solve problems literally in mid-air. His impact, & that of his team, is upon every aspect of this amazingly successful organization. They are definitely critical to achieving that success. Arul leads a team of constant learners with an attitude that we can always get better in providing enhanced customer service, we can always improve in finding innovative ways that will transform AA's business & also the industry to greater sustainability, and we can always be more efficient in increasing asset yield. Arul, you see, sets the example as the leader - that of one who demonstrates the necessity of life-long learning while he never stops stretching & growing himself. And he took great pride in posing for a quick image with me in front of a tail section from one of the previously used AA aircraft, also within their majestic, airport terminal like complex.

When Arul & I were walking to another one of the complex buildings, he noticed that fast approaching us was the President & CEO of AA, Doug Parker, among several of whom were his colleagues & they were all deep in conversation. Arul asked if I was ready to meet him? I admit, within the 20 seconds or so I had to think, I wanted to say not this time because I felt I just wasn't presentable enough for such an important occasion. All I could say was, are you sure? Arul said "yep!" & there we were face-to-face! This was extraordinary in that Mr. Parker definitely already knew Arul, he showed how deeply he was respected & just how valued as an employee of incredible worth. Doug spent time with us that he surely could not spare, but he did & that was out of respect for those whom he leads, & in particular, for my incredible Alumnus, Arul Anand.

Was this really only 45 days back?? It's really hard to imagine the light-heartedness we all felt then versus today. Our freedom of movement, control of our calendars, comfort in our financial wherewithal being individually understood, & then the confidence that all those whom we loved were safe whether we were with them or not.

This has always been the time of hugs, handshakes, & kisses given readily among many as a way of life. Connection on lots of levels has been the foundation upon which deep relationships are sustained. Beyond physical demonstrations - knowing touch is incredibly important - we've had the advantage (the luxury?) of the technology that aids us to connect with each other, too, far & wide.

SO much is different at the moment! It's an understatement to say we really don't have total control, decision making ability, over anything in our lives for this temporary unprecedented time in our modern history. One of the hardest things we are experiencing is having to get used to social distancing, even with those we love. Not just having to get used to social distancing over time, but for all practical purposes, we've had to do so immediately. I admit to having human withdrawal at the moment.

Where all do we see good? Well, just about everywhere we look there's so much good! Organizations are coming to the aid of their employees & customers in significant, creative ways. Businesses are re-engineering themselves in real time in the most innovative of ways that will be sustained (& good) change as we move past the pandemic. Lots of zoom meetings going on to just keep business operations moving.

Leaders are reaching out to their employees directly to offer them encouragement, inspiration, & opportunities to express candidly what their struggles are & to offer assistance. Coworkers are saying to each other "lean on me," I'm here, I'm strong & you've always been here for me, please take my hand I'll pull you up. The me is only as strong as the we as so many have said.

Many learning venues have moved from in person events to online formats such as webinars, YouTube type streaming, etc. Bruce Waller, in the #CLIMB Facebook group he founded & leads, introduced "CLIMBING Together" Virtual Coffee Meetup Fridays at 9-10 a.m. Participants need bring only a favorite quote, or a challenge / win to share with others to end the week on a positive note to help in these challenging times! These are engaging, safe from the spread of disease, & in many ways economical at least to reduce necessary transportation resources. Progress does not have to stop, even now; we just have to want to find creative ways to move forward with what we can reasonably do in this moment.

Families & loved ones are finding next best thing ways to celebrate milestones such as birthdays, anniversaries, & just I love you moments. We have even found ways to worship while maintaining social distancing.

There's just no shortage of creativity & the signs of good things happening all around us.

Call To Action:

1. How will you connect with those you love, lead & mentor this coming week?

2. What has changed over the last 45 days in your life for which you are grateful?

3. Celebrate the resurrection of our Savior this Holy Week; rejoice & give thanks.

4. Pray for our global brothers & sisters.

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