80+ days around the world
or personally traveling all continents by staying at home in COVID-19
What I want to share here, is my very personal journey around the globe and what I‘ve learned by traveling this way.
When the COVID-19 situation started to become my personal experience in late February, I returned to Germany from a business trip to Italy. Between Milan and Bergamo I’ve at that time coached a team of colleagues who wanted to learn about ways of collaboration in agile ways.
Well, we’re not able to finish that as our personal lockdown began, you might imagine. So, there I was, asked to stay at home in my Bavarian reclusion and take good care not to make any contact physically as far as possible to anybody.
What I longed for was some form of connecting to others, discussing how things evolved anywhere else and how they‘re coping with it over there.
Luckily, some people I knew from the city whereabouts I lived before decided to go online with their regular MeetUp, trying out what could be discussed and created together. Using some new tools and seeing where this helped us. I haven‘t been with them for a while as it would‘ve involved a 5-hour drive but now, as we stayed connected anyhow … two ‘clicks’ and we‘re there. We‘ve had a joyful experience, a little banter here, some learning there and many familiar faces around. I really loved this company and the family-like feeling this evening provided.
The next day I found out about others, also starting with an online MeetUp in another city where I‘ve worked a couple of years ago. So it began. My personal journey into my pasts and into the future. Some days I started in one city and moved on throughout the day to two others.
I joined groups all over Germany, cities I knew and others I didn‘t, to meet different people experimenting with what could be done together online. I joined a ‘Hackathon‘. An Open Space, a Lean Coffee, an ‘Unconference‘. For a while we‘ve learned about one new tool a day, I suppose, coping with frequent releases of all kinds of videoconferencing, organizing agendas tools, as well as whiteboards to work together remotely. Excited and happy to ‘see’ each other again, to show our learnings and discuss insights into our new circumstances.
Then I reached out for the first time to groups over there in Italy. People who I didn‘t know at all but located nearby of my old team and accepting me as one of their kind as I speak good enough Italian to work and joke with them. And in one Webinar, an Italian professional from London gave a talk about one of his special fields.
There it was, my ‘second click‘ – going where some experts might be found. And from there, I found more and more groups in Britain and Ireland, doing awesome things online. I‘ve joined them in London and Leeds, Nottingham, Cambridge, Bristol, and Dublin, in Edinburgh, in their ‘Pubs‘, ‘Concert Halls’, ‘Living’ and ‘Meeting Rooms‘. I joined some Scrum Masters I admire and follow on LinkedIn, Twitter, and the like to hear them speaking. We talked about collaboration and what might be helpful to improve it. About truly listening with the least possible amount of prejudice and own beliefs about the world and how it should be. About giving respect. About helping without asking something back. Things like this. People who‘s articles and books I‘ve studied were suddenly in reach. Reserve a seat – be there. As simple as that.
From there I ‘jumped‘ to San Francisco and New York, to Denver and Boulder. I learned about giving respect to others from Ronica, a now consultant and a former ranger at the ‘Burning Man‘ Festival. She reached us how to establish and practice an organization’s culture through making space for every voice, to see, appreciate, and strengthen, to encourage, connect, and create belonging in teams.
The ‘traveling’ meant not only some time differences and other ways to engage to me. I join different worlds of acting together, collaborating, and making space. Having lived and worked in Berlin for a year helped me to adapt. It‘s not only about language, it‘s culture, it‘s politeness, it‘s speaking and listening, discussing and playing with each other. Anyhow, the lockdown was always a topic and many experts were suddenly available to give insights into whatever interest you might’ve given your attention to.
I also ‘traveled’ to New Zealand and Australia, learned about openness and courage, about innovation coming from traditional roots, participated in Singapore and Mumbai, learned about quieter forms of joy than these I was used to, meeting people from Nepal, playing together, the Middle-East, creating together, South Africa, learning from them, Mexico, Argentina, …, seeing the world with their eyes. We were truly in this all together.
I learned about – third ‘click’ – many interesting fields like the pirates in the Caribbean between 1690 and 1730, their ways of not allowing things to get in their way, creating their own society at the borders of what was known to mankind as ‘territory’. I really didn’t know before about the advanced thinking of balancing power between the Captain and the Quartermaster on a Pirate ship (checks and balances as the Captain was not allowed to hand out booty or punishments), the ‘one man, one vote system’ or the health insurance system for injured Pirates.
Furthermore, I learned about how to establish and maintain a good flow of work between people adapting insights from the production of physical goods. About ‘fun’ in India. About ‘playing‘ from a playful monk who lived for 15 years in monasteries, who learned to connect to people differently, and this as he accepted voluntarily months of self-isolation.
I decided to take an online course at a renowned university in California. I discussed with the authors of the ‘Agile Manifesto‘. Learned more about ‘Liberating Structures‘ from a Russian teacher in New York. Reflected on the grieve curve and our tiny lives considering astronomical dimensions in San Francisco. Learned about ‘Improv Theater‘ and ‘Jazz‘ as communication in London. Coached a Life Coach myself. And many other things.
There was no considerable limit to what I could do, other then my own fatigue of ‘time-travelling‘ through all these time-zones and the fact of not being able to participate in two meetings at the same moment. Well, one of those could‘ve been recorded, thus. I participated so far in 200+ events since my lockdown started. Connected to more than 1.000+.
- reach out, it‘s open,
- we profit all from coming together with respect for each other,
- we can have a lot of fun, regardless of gender or culture,
- it‘s easy,
- I don‘t want to stop this connecting between ordinary people around the globe ever again,
- let‘s continue at least with some ‘hybrid‘ forms of collaboration and sharing!
I would like to thank all the wonderful people who organized and participated in these events. I like to say ‘thank you‘ to everybody I‘ve met and who shared their views, knowledge, creativity and wisdom. I admire my teachers and coaches. I just want you, my dear readers, to consider experiencing something like this as well by yourselves.
What would you like to have happen in your lives? And when you could have that by reaching out to others, what will that be like? And why‘s that important?