I have heard the phrase “well, that’s just 2020” very often since May of this year.
From company transitions, to COVID, to riots, and then supply chain disruptions and hurricanes, it has been a real character builder. As our innovation wall says, “conflict builds character, and crisis defines it.”
While reflecting on the year, I considered the strength this team has built while overcoming serious adversity in 2020. I then looked up how to define strength: “the capacity of an object or substance to withstand great force or pressure.” It occurred to me how grateful I was for the experience as these trying times have forced our team to perform above the norm. They have forced us to rise above our environment and come together to find solutions that we will carry into our future.
Then I defined the word team: “a group of players forming one side to achieve a common goal.” For us that goal is our purpose: Creating A Place Where Life Gets Better.
The team at the time of this reflection was 44 people, all who were driving to improve, perform, and create. Then another 2020 hit us, one that was not a problem we could come together and solve. It was an event that took us to our knees. Overnight, we went to 43 as we tragically lost a valued member.
As I contemplated how to act and what to say, I again reflected on strength, questioning what it means in this situation. Is strength our ability to move on? No…Brandon Jarrett will always be in our hearts. Is strength our empathy toward those who were close? No…that is compassion and love. Is there strength in emotional composure? No…because emotional vulnerability takes strength itself. The emotion that instantly followed this thought was sorrow, feeling sorry for myself to have lost someone who I worked with daily and feeling sorry for his family and those in his department.
Then it hit me — the way in which to define strength. Strength, in this situation, isn’t moving past a tragedy but instead embedding it into our future. Ensuring lessons learned from Brandon remain in our hearts as if he were still here physically.
As I write this with tears in my eyes, I can clearly see Brandon’s legacy at Elliott Homes:
– His passion to keep our promises as a company in customer care (pride)
– His feedback to increase customer satisfaction (meaning)
– His prodding questions as he learns how to improve (purpose)
– The resolutions toward problems he saw (inspiration)
Tomorrow, we will be sad. Next week, we will be sad. A month from now, we will be sad. But our team did not go from 44 members to 43, as his voice remains within us.
To a great man, friend, son, and member of this team,
Today we celebrate your life. We will be strong, and we will take you into our future. A future that is “A Place Where Life Gets Better.”