Venturing Off The Beaten Path

Every person and every company is dealing with COVID-19 in different ways. Some have gone on pretty much as they always have, full speed ahead, letting nothing stand in their way. Others have changed every task and every routine. Most of us are learning new things about our loved ones, our coworkers, our neighbors, and most of all, ourselves. We have shared a number of stories both here and in our weekly podcasts.

We invite our readers to share their stories, especially if you believe they might help others deal with our coronavirus times. Here is a story written by Jennifer Trakhtenberg, Senior Talent Leader with ClearVision Optical.


Venturing Off The Beaten Path

“It seems unlikely that the waterfall is off of this path”, I suggest endearingly to my husband, as we explore a new hiking trail with our children. Revisiting the map, he ushers us with the assurance that indeed it is through the unpathed forest. We help one another uphill, across many shaky stones, and are greeted by the most magnificent view that Mother Nature could offer. Standing in awe, we smile for the camera, memorializing this unique moment to call upon again. Since COVID-19 started, our family has set out each weekend to explore a new park, lake, forest, or beach to make the most of this crazy time of social distancing. We miss our routines and typical weekend activities, but we are undeterred in our belief that we need to make the most of what we can do given the circumstances. Each time we visit, we are impressed with the views and the experiences we are collecting, especially the ones that are so close to home and up until now were unknown to us.

During the workweek, I remove my ranger gear and address unchartered lands with the ClearVision Optical family. Similarly, I am amazed by the creative and unexpected ways that individuals have risen to this unthinkable occasion. Much like my nature visits, we often are trying to find our footing in a world that is not exactly paved right now. We hold fast to the values that the company is anchored on, and listen intently to what the market and our customers are telling us — but frankly, there is no map and we have no idea what awaits us on the “other side.” Our business sense, however, tells us that we possess a unique advantage, which is the caliber of our team members, who regularly remind us that together we can generate innovative solutions, even if we have to do it as the situation is unfolding.

Each weekend, as we embark on these family expeditions, we have had to make a regular set of practices to ensure that our family is comfortable and more apt to have more fun. This holds true within our business life as well — we have been actively surveying each individual to ensure their home setup is comfortable and they have the tools and training to be successful. Soliciting feedback and keeping an open dialogue has never been more important since the guidelines of the past are no longer a useful playbook. We speak at length about the idea that many may wish to “bounce back” to the way things used to be. That is unlikely to serve us, as the world has been forever altered. Instead, we may be best served to challenge ourselves to “bounce forward” and embrace a new terrain.

Visiting a new adventure site is often fraught with obstacles we did not plan for. We need to be flexible and quickly adapt with Plan B, C, or even at times, abort the mission and come up with an entirely new plan altogether. We learn as we go. We simply and collectively don’t always know the way, and there is a myriad of variables in motion simultaneously. Like any good hike with several trail paths, we have to trust our instincts and call upon our common sense and our prior experiences to construct a reasonable game plan and course correct through every necessary iteration.

Over the past several months, I have witnessed the most remarkable acts of strength and mental agility from my colleagues and HR network. We have supported one another, as many have taken on new responsibilities and naturally, priorities have shifted. We have stayed so close to the community and our customers to ensure they knew how much we care, and the extent that we value the relationship. To do this effectively, we have had to communicate often and call upon what I refer to as “reservoirs of awesomeness.” These are inner gifts, that through this time of challenges, are summoned and show up when most needed. Talented individuals who exhibit strength and an unwavering willingness to pitch in for the good of the team. Much like the glory that my family has witnessed in these magnificent wilderness sites, I have seen our business propelled forward, fueled by dedicated teammates embracing their intellectual curiosity and moving in unison along the trail towards the views at the vista.

Creating new habits is not easy and pivoting from our typical family activities has been efforted, so we hone in on some key details that will make the journey enjoyable. Bringing sweet tea is a definite motivator and promises of Disney tunes transform an arduous hike into an afternoon of giggles and memories. Similarly, like many workplaces, we have been focused on health and safety, paired with recognizing the need for flexibility to telecommute. Instead of filling our conference rooms, we are meeting virtually on Zoom and Microsoft Teams daily to stay connected. We are prideful of our culture and realize that to continue to earn employee trust, we need to communicate often and be candid.

On a recent weekend, my family climbed 500 feet towards a breathtaking overlook above the Hudson River. We stood back in amazement, recalling the strength it took to climb that high. We snagged a photo, accompanied by our branch walking sticks, which support us along the way. We have conquered challenges that would never have been touched before this time. As a business organization, we are embarking on so many new opportunities, including expanding our product array to include PPE. Each time we hit a professional milestone or breakthrough a new barrier, we are reminded that if not for this radical pandemic, we would not have taken on these new experiences.

Refining our perspective has made a meaningful impact on our team. Pushing our limits has revealed hidden gems, that we would never have stretched for ordinarily. Each of us has had personal and professionals uncoverings during this time that yield something unexpected. I hope that you too are able to have a lasting impression that is filled with beauty and peace, and a magnificent view awaiting you at the end of this climb.

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