Twenty years ago, Richard and I were both on the IIDA Board when we hit an unexpected financial snag. It was serious enough that we had to curtail all programming and events while we sorted out the mess and rebuilt IIDA’s brand and purpose. While the circumstances were dire at the time, in retrospect, they provided an opportunity for IIDA to re- invent itself. All associations need to periodically refresh their mandate but proposing to make changes or cuts to established programming is usually a tough sell. No one wants to give up anything, which is why change takes a long time.

However, a sudden crisis offers no choice but to view the organization as an empty vessel and then start to add back events, activities, and member benefits, evaluating each one in terms of its real value to the organization’s core business. IIDA emerged from this crisis stronger and more stable than ever and has not looked back.

In considering the disaster that COVID-19 has wrought, it’s hard to imagine a silver lining, but there is one. As designers, architects and industry partners, we have allowed our lives to become governed by multiple demands, reacting to the needs of others and trying to juggle deadlines, social obligations, and family activities. It seemed that every hour of the day was booked, or double-booked as we raced from meeting to meeting, juggling conference calls and business travel. We have accepted being ‘too busy’ as the norm.

Then, suddenly, our world shut down. No running to meetings, no dinner parties to organize and execute, no vacations to plan and no leaving the house. The pandemic has given us an unexpected gift – the gift of time. Time to spend with children that doesn’t include car- pooling to hockey practice or rushing to ballet classes. Time to re- discover the joy of cooking and eating meals with family members. Time to garden, to connect virtually with friends old and new, time to read, time to reflect, to think, to breathe and to identify the things that are truly important in our lives. Would this have happened pre-COVID? Would we have been able to carve out time from our very busy schedules, while everyone else was running at top speed? Not likely.

So, what will post-COVID look like? We know that what we thought of as ‘normal’ is gone, probably for good. Instead of letting busy-ness and urgency consume our lives again, let’s rebuild an external life with intention, not reflex. Having discovered our priorities, our ‘core business’, let’s make them the building blocks of a new and meaningful existence – a truly curated life, which will strengthen the skills we bring to our clients and customers.