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  • Writer's pictureDan Berger

If COVID Hasn't Changed You, You're Doing COVID Wrong

If the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t changed you, you’ve been doing it wrong. While this time has been and continues to be incredibly stressful (don’t even get me started on that), it also presents an opportunity to reevaluate various aspects of our lives and determine whether they’re in line with what we really want/need.

Of course, I recognize that I’m pretty privileged to be able to dig deep and make some of the changes I have—moving to Idaho, pursuing new ventures, even going vegan—without the stress of managing kids’ homeschooling schedules or reporting to an employer. But the kinds of shifts you make don’t have to be monumental. They could be as simple as finding a different commute, strengthening relationships with those you care about, and cutting some ties that are no longer serving you.

Keep in mind, though, that regardless of the breadth and depth of the modifications you’re considering, COVID-19 can’t change you unless you know what needs to be changed. For that, you must have a guiding vision—an ultimate goal—with which to align your decisions and behaviors.

I know thinking about transformative change can be intimidating; it certainly was for me. But I found Simon Sinek’s Find You Why to be very helpful. I picked it up this summer, while working on my first book, in hopes that it would help me see the forest for the trees.

After reading, I went through the process he suggests to find my own why, digging into my memories to articulate it. I began by identifying the events in my life that had influenced me, and selected the five I felt had had the most impact on me.

For example, when I was in second grade in Tel-Aviv, Israel, I wanted a treehouse. So, my mom got a shipping pallet and hammered it into a tree across from our apartment. From there, I upgraded to a clubhouse, building it into the bushes nearby. I would invite my friends over to hang out after school and on weekends.

I still remember the feeling of having them over: the sense of hospitality and satisfaction I got from hosting people (in what the a passerby would think was a homeless shelter 😂). It was my very own space, one that felt distinct from the apartment I shared with my mom. The clubhouse hangouts were one of the first times I brought people together, truly owning a “hospitality experience” for people I cared about.

This memory unlocked other similar moments in my life (until this very day) where I created community, first for those I knew, then to those a few degrees removed from my network (at school), and finally to a broader audience (at work). A pattern was starting to reveal itself...

I realized how much I enjoy the opportunity to architect an environment. I never lost the drive I had at eight years old. Whether I was hosting a clubhouse full of kids or a team of employees, I was always cognizant of the fact that people had entrusted me with their time. It was a responsibility I never took lightly—I’ve always wanted to make it special. Additionally, in many ways, I never felt as if I belonged to a community unless I formed it myself. It was having that ownership stake that made me feel like I fit in.

That said, I don’t necessarily like digging into the details of events—I don’t want to build a party's playlist from scratch or choose the ingredients of a specialty cocktail. Instead, I take a "bigger picture" approach: Does everyone feel welcome and comfortable? Are their needs met? While I can’t control their experience, I can increase the probability that they’ll have a better time by designing the right environment.

With those insights, I drafted a why statement, one that made clear the effect I wanted to have on others using affirmative language. It was (and remains): Creating communities that give people a stronger sense of belonging.

That statement has an impact on the ways in which I choose to proceed, from the businesses I invest in to the ways I’ve chosen to begin a new chapter of my life in Idaho to my next venture that will be centered on community building.

As you consider the pandemic and how it has—or hasn’t—altered the way you operate, think about what drives you. If you’re not sure, it may be time to find your why.

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