Who would have thought getting back to “real” work would be the significant  highlight of this very unusual and highly productive year?  Which raises a question around our relationship with accomplishment.  Perhaps it’s not dissimilar to actors rehearsing until they walk onstage in front of a real audience. Or athletes in training until their moment of truth in front of spectators. They each must reach deep into their training disciplines, habits and mindsets to deliver a flawless performance.

2020 has been our year of reinvention, quick shifts and extreme experimentation. We pivoted at speed into new ways of working.  We explored technology and platforms and apps and collaboration tools until our heads hurt. We enlisted friends, family, partners and clients to help test out new ways of delivering Immersions. We failed and learned. We fell in love with so many great ideas and threw most of them out unceremoniously. We brought in new people who had skills with names we couldn’t pronounce and let them be our guides into this new world. 

Most importantly, we applied our own Immersion principles – scanning externally for insight and inspiration; staying connected to customers and each other to truly understand the situation; and using the tools we love so much. We hesitatingly relinquished old beliefs and assumptions, built resolve and courage for all things new, and celebrated small wins. 

But it is only now that we are back in business – delivering highly impactful Immersion experiences for clients and their strategic talent (yes, virtually) that our team has lifted its head and basked in the warm and motivating feeling of real accomplishment.

Accomplishment can be defined in many ways but I particularly like “something successful or impressive that is achieved after a lot of effort and hard work”. It talks to the long hours, the reflection, the tweaking and adaptations, the practice, the failures, the learning – in short the significant effort expended on this 2020 journey. More importantly it talks to an outcome – a point in time where that effort is recognized as being impressive, successful, a significant accomplishment. That moment of performance or delivery with and for others.

What I really want to share, though, is how accomplishment gets 10X’d when it’s not only “real” work but when it’s “inspiring real” work.

There is incomparable value in doing inspiring work.  I have observed our team lean into maximum engagement because the work they are doing inspires them to go way above and beyond. This is a team that deeply appreciates that the world has become unrecognizable. Everything has changed for everyone – family, work, exercise, community, education, nutrition, shopping, recreation, travel, time-management! And if we are to be helpful at this time, we need to inspire energy, optimism, and confidence that our present and immediate future hold worthwhile promise. 

In service of this and unfettered by geography in this new virtual world, we have brokered learning exchanges with some of the world’s most iconic organizations (military elite, Paralympians, NGO’s, Emergency Responders).  We have immersed ourselves with leaders who exemplify purpose, service mindedness and the mental toughness enabling them to thrive in extreme circumstances.  The impact is unquestionable – participants in these immersions are inspired, moved, shift their thinking at speed, and commit to embracing new ways of doing things.

What I observe in the Immersion Lab team is nothing short of miraculous.  There is a generosity and gratefulness amongst them that I have never seen in such full display before.  They have come together in an unwavering collaboration, holding each other to a very high standard throughout the whole process.  I am witness to the exceptional experience they are both getting and giving.  We have always been a tight group but this has shifted the needle significantly and the results speak for themselves.  Each brings an increasingly valuable set of capabilities to the team and the whole is a delicious gestalt that moves in unison.  

Inspiring work creates a virtuous cycle leading to a deep sense of accomplishment for all involved.

“Hand on heart, I know more patients with cancer will have more smiles because of what our team has accomplished today.  Today’s immersion was a milestone event in making that happen!” 

– a healthcare client’s words after their senior leadership team’s immersion

This is our real work and we are grateful!

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