Art by: Anna Kövecses

Complete your Pandemic Performance Review

Prepare yourself for a second year with fewer fails.

Elaine Broe
5 min readMar 8, 2021



Correction. I love change that I choose. I’ve found this year has challenged me in ways I couldn’t imagine, and I have a pretty vivid imagination. As someone who facilitates change workshops and knows more change models than humanly useful, this year I’ve been at a loss more often than not.

Change is something I love when;
I choose it.
I anticipate it.
I plan it.
I control it.

Which was basically Opposite World in the year 2020.


Change is a tricky thing. Especially the kind that is imposed upon us. In February, 2020 I facilitated an activity that examines our relationship to change. I remember it fondly because it was one of the last in person programs I led.

Oh, the naive land of February.

In the pair activity, one person has 30 seconds to secretly change aspects of their appearance, then they turn to face their partner who tries to guess what has changed.

The entertaining part, mostly for me, is the assumption that they’ll trade off the role of changing their appearance. Not the case. The same individual has to continue changing their appearance each turn, trying to find increasingly creative ways to alter how they look so their partner can guess what’s changed. Here’s what happens:

  1. Immediately after the first turn, the individual returns back to their original appearance, it wasn’t comfortable
  2. Depending on the perspective, change can be obvious or very subtle
  3. They get frustrated with being asked repeatedly to change, it’s hard
  4. They want to understand the purpose, what’s the point
  5. Teams start to take it less seriously and feel a lack of control or choice
  6. Eventually after multiple turns, they become disengaged or someone is wearing a shoe on their head

Sound familiar? Whether you rocked this past pandemic year, or you cannot wait to close the book on an incredibly tough time; I am certain at some point each of you have felt like you were wearing a shoe on your head wondering ‘what is happening’.

I know I did.


My ability to embrace change imposed by a global pandemic was seriously lacking. When I coach clients on performance issues, we examine the situation from a skill and will perspective. I’ve found this frame helpful to coach myself when I’m not doing my best work. Basically, I gave myself a pandemic performance review.

When the pandemic began, I put my energy into increasing my skill. I bought new equipment, signed up for courses and learned new technology. I failed to check in with my will. I think because I was afraid. I didn’t reflect on what I was letting go of, in order to fully embrace what I was creating. A death grip is the opposite of creative response. Examining my attitude of acceptance is now part of my check in, because it’s a mindset I want to strengthen. Also, the death grip is exhausting.


Do I want a second pandemic year? Hell, No. However, I’m coming to terms with my reality. This second year means I get to apply all that I learned from that first year. I’m no longer a novice. While there remains much uncertainty, I’m clear on what I’ve learned and what has changed (including me).

New clients. Zoom Magic. Zero air miles and way more sleep. My pandemic leap; share my work with the world in new ways. Experiences accessible to companies or individuals. Virtual, engaging, learning that is both beautiful and meaningful.

The Leadership Collaboratory is my pandemic baby. Letting go of what my business was, in order to continue to work with leaders in the world. Whether you’re a solo entrepreneur, a CEO of a global company or somewhere in between — we’ve all had to be in the act of letting to in order to find our way this past year. No one had the answers, that was clear no matter where you were in the world.

An image of six people in zoom video squares stacked on one another in the shape of a pyramid welcoming you to the Leadership Collaboratory website.

I accepted the Pandemic Change Game that none of us signed up for. Ok, accepted may be a stretch, but I keep stepping up. I check in with my will to examine what I can control and create. Most mornings I choose the future of the work I love to do in the world. It still exists. You’re out there. Just a little further away.

Take time to check in with yourself and potential changes for this second pandemic year. Reset your priorities based on what you’ve learned. Take time to honour what you’ve lost and recognize anniversaries are milestones between who you were and who you’ve become. You’re smarter than you were a year ago (remember washing delivery packages and the toilet paper famine?).

I know many of us are looking forward to a more widely distributed vaccine and renewed freedom. Maybe this second year will be easier, maybe it won’t — but we know it will involve more change. Which isn’t a bad thing. I promise.

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Elaine Broe

I am the founder of the Leadership Collaboratory where I design and facilitate experiences that inspire new ideas & challenge old patterns.