Have we come full circle?
by Chuck Tanzola, CPMR
Tuesday evening, February 25, 2020 – A record-setting ERA Management Conference has just concluded and I’m joining a group for a celebratory dinner honoring the inaugural recipient and namesake of the Tobin Bridge Award when I realize my wedding ring is missing from my finger. A quick trip up the hotel elevator and hurried check of the room yields no ring; but dinner and a great event awaits. Upon return to the hotel afterwards, a more rigorous search ensues and lo and behold – the ring had slipped unnoticed into my suitcase as I was packing for the next morning’s departure. Crisis averted.
Fast forward – Friday night, February 26, 2022 – Almost two years to the day and I’m packing that same suitcase for a return to Austin when I realize my wedding ring is missing again. Sadly, a thorough search over Friday night and Saturday morning yields no results and the plane awaits. I leave for the ERA Conference looking forward to “A New Day and a New Way”; with my “déjà vu all over again” missing wedding band saga firmly entrenched in my mind.
Monday, February 28, 2022 – I am sitting in the Zlotnik Ballroom at the AT&T Center with more than 500 colleagues, friends and soon to be new acquaintances, and I can’t help but think about how new and yet familiar this feels and wondering, “Have we come full circle?” After two years of essential isolation, it is energizing to see old friends in person; to see their smiles; hear their stories; enjoy their presence; and learn from their experience and expertise – no muted conversation, no frozen video. Over three and a half days in Austin, I will have direct person-to-person interaction with more than 200 unique people (possibly more than I’ve had in-person in our industry over the prior two years combined). Congratulations to the more than 55 volunteers who worked on the Conference; and kudos to all who traveled to Austin. In my opinion, and by popular report, the event was a resounding success and you all made it so!
Have we come full circle? To me, coming full circle means getting back where we started, our original position, after going through a series of developments along the way. Have we been in a two-year diversion that is now concluding; are we now back where we started? Are we back to in-person interaction being the default standard and dominant method of getting things done? Will our natural pre-pandemic instinct to schedule a visit, plan a trip, and meet in-person reemerge? Some have called it returning to normal.
Yet we must recognize that coming full circle also involves going through a series of developments – a process of change along the way around the circle. In this case, the collective, improved capability of the industry to function using new methods of communications can neither be denied nor ignored. Will our new way in the new days ahead be to rely primarily on technology-based communications systems; with limited in-person interaction? Will we call this the “new normal?”
I believe the consensus is that the future holds some of both – a healthy tension between the efficiency of new communication methods and the effectiveness of seeing people in-person.
Friday, March 12, 2022 – I’m preparing to travel to New York City for the first in-person LEDucation Conference and Trade Show to be held in two years. (Sound familiar?) For two weeks, I’ve searched and searched for my wedding ring to no avail, when what should appear in the bottom of a different infrequently used suitcase – you guessed it – my wedding band. Crisis resolved!
So, have we come full circle? As I contemplate this, I visualize my ring – a circular band – and I wonder where does it begin and where does it end? And the reality is that I do not know – I simply cannot tell. I think the same is true with meeting obstacles like pandemics, supply chain issues and most any challenge in life. We cannot always tell when they begin nor when they will end and defining the endpoints is not nearly as important as the resilience, persistence and commitment through the process.
In a few short weeks, I’ll be packing to go “Back to the Summit” to attend the EDS Summit in Las Vegas. When you see me there, you can check my ring finger to see if I’ve learned anything along the way.
As always, I can be reached at email@example.com (or via Teams, text, or…) and welcome your comments. What do you think – have we come full circle?