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Ava Ramblings 5: The Art of Letting Go

(This is the fifth installment of Jaymie’s ‘Ava Ramblings’ blog series on being a pregnant CEO during COVID-19. If interested, check out the first, second, third and fourth installments as well.)


Dear Ava, 

It’s Memorial Day Weekend and just a couple of weeks before your dad and I can finally hold you.  The summer has unofficially arrived – and there’s a global move to reopen cautiously after Coronavirus has been keeping all of us sheltered in since March.  There’s a feeling of hope and rebirth, particularly in this little beach town we call home these days.

You’ll be glad to know that Dolly, the little dove who made herself a nest in our outdoor patio, hatched her baby, fed her baby, and within just a few weeks, the baby grew quickly and flew the nest.  Dolly has now made a new nest in the next window over, just in case her baby comes back, and/or onto baby #2 perhaps.  We shall see.  Or maybe she’s waiting for you, too.   

I wouldn’t be surprised as Dolly and I have maternally bonded, particularly one day when I chased a crow away from her nest, big belly, broom and all.  Dolly didn’t budge from her eggs, but instead thanked me, with a noble, maternal coo.  

Even Holmes, your Weimaraner brother, seems to have accepted our new nester Dolly.  Holmes is the ultimate ‘King of Letting Go’. His instincts as a bird dog makes him perk his ears every time Dolly coos. But he looks over to me, sees my worried glance towards him, and curls back into his bed.  

I’ve been trying to learn from Holmes these past 9 months.  I started on my ‘maternity plan’ for JSA the second we found out you were nestled inside. I presented detailed slides to my team when announcing the pregnancy before the holidays.  My thought then was that in Q1 we would review and finalize, and in Q2, be in full practice with me overseeing, so we were all ready for your arrival by June.  

But COVID-19 arrived first instead.  March and April we pivoted 40+ companies’ marketing plans to adjust to the ‘new norm’. Our JSA family came together and rallied for our clients, despite individual hardships on the homefront.  It was inspiring to witness.

Now, in these last few weeks, we hired more team members, and re-announced my maternity leave plans internally.  No one seemed to blink.  Perhaps our growing belly was an obvious, constant reminder to everyone, even through all this chaos.  And perhaps the hardest part of letting go is knowing this is meant to be, and all will be as it should be.  It’s the realization that the items you spent so much time on, that you swore were so meaningful and critical, were just items after all, and others picking them up like matchsticks you dropped, and making these things their own, ushers in a new time of creativity and evolution.  No, it won’t be the same – it will be better. 

I look back over the JSA ‘growth chart’ – and it reads like a staircase going up from left to right.  Every time I hired and turned over a new piece of responsibility to a qualified team member, we bolted north.  Every time I held firm to try to ‘do it all’, we plateaued.  Truth is, and yes it’s cliche, but it’s a good one: no one can do it all. But furthermore, there’s an art, a courage, to letting go. 

This became obvious when many of us in our industry, due to COVID-19, had to quickly adjust to remote working, and then to remote leadership.  There were no more fast walk-bys to your team members’ cubicles, for a quick check-in on that challenging deadline, or quick weekend plans update when grabbing coffee by the office Keurig machine.  Instead, it’s now a Skype reminder note, a Teams video huddle, and an official  Zoom all-hands Monday debrief.  We have to find new ways to connect.  We have to over-communicate.  We have to trust more.  We have to let go. 

And perhaps we are letting go as a collective workforce.  I’m no longer so stressed when Holmes barks right in the middle of a client video call. Truth is, we all have necessary distractions these days, and we are all seeing each other as more human than ‘robot professionals’. 

The world is readjusting, and humans have an unshakable ability to adapt and rise.  There have been too many deaths, sorrow and sickness -and sadly this will continue – but there will also be the human spirit, letting go, passing the baton, and exhaling.  I never knew how much I was holding my breath until I exhaled.  

Life is about to usher forth, your life Ms. Ava, and I think of Dolly’s first baby who will hopefully fly back home to us when the season changes again.

To my family, including my JSAers, my Board, my clients and my amazing telecom and data center community who have supported my growth over the years, thank you.  And here’s to our new seasons yet to come.

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